The Whistler Excellence Awards like to trick the audience.
The rotating cast of presenters in each of the eight categories describes the winner in a vague way that could apply to any of the three finalists—until a little nugget of information gives it away.
That's why, when Angie Nolan won the Champion of Arts and Culture category during the awards ceremony at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler last Wednesday, April 25, no one was more shocked than she was. The other two nominees were Ace MacKay-Smith and Dave "Pepe" Petko.
The first words out of her mouth after accepting her trophy: "I fully thought they were about to say Ace's name."
The next day, that feeling still hadn't worn off. "I was truly, absolutely shocked," she said. "Ace and Dave in their own rights are two absolute Whistler legends who have brought so much to the arts and culture in Whistler and should really be honoured. I feel like we're each in our own lane and they deserve huge accolades for what they bring."
But Nolan is in that category too. The longtime local has worked and volunteered in Whistler's theatre and film scene for over a decade. She sits on the board of The Point Artist-Run Centre, teaches acting classes, works as the Whistler Film Festival's Director of Industry Programming, not to mention all the theatre and film productions she's been part of over the years.
"When it comes to championing arts and culture in Whistler and beyond, Angie Nolan is the real deal," said Stephen Vogler, the artistic director at The Point who nominated Nolan. "When she's not stepping in to help others with their theatre, film or comedy projects, she's spearheading her own unique creations."
For her part, Nolan seemed keener to give accolades to the pioneers of Whistler's theatre and film scene. "I was always doing stuff, but didn't fully throw myself into it until 1999 or 2000 with full force," she said. "(The arts scene) has grown so much. For me, the community support is so much greater now. Back then it was people really trying to pioneer their way through at least having a few things to go to or be part of. Now it's really viable."
Her hope for the future of Whistler's arts scene is that it will continue to grow, be supported and provide an avenue for artists to make a viable living.
"We have people here who are so qualified and skilled and can help grow the next generation of artists," she says. "I'd like to see some mentorship programs too. The thing is we need dollars and support to really grow those things. Part of that is just showing up, but sponsorship is good too."