West Vancouver-Garibaldi MLA Joan McIntyre spoke about the crucial partnership between the arts and business at the third annual Business and the Arts Award luncheon Tuesday at the Trattoria Restaurant.
"We would have never been left with the Mona Lisa or the Sistine Chapel frescoes without patrons," she told Whistler Chamber of Commerce members.
In Whistlers case, without the astute patronage of the Whistler Real Estate Company, the Whistler Writers Groups annual, week-long writers festival might have remained a blank page, or at least a short story.
President Pat Kelly accepted the award, a painting of Whistlers mountaintop Inukshuck by local artist Debra MacArthur, which recognized the visionary leadership and support Kellys company has shown for the writers group and the Whistler Arts Council.
He thanked fellow realtor Heather Clifford for bringing the writers groups needs to his attention and expressed what an important role the arts plays in the Whistler community, not only enriching our culture, but bringing forth Whistlers story to the world.
McIntyre noted the partnership between arts and business is a two way street: Companies benefit from the advertising cultural events provide and their relationship enhances a company brand profile.
"Some partner to foster creativity in the workplace, productivity and moral," she added. "Vibrant arts and culture is critical to the building of a vibrant and healthy community."
She noted how culture exercises education, diversity and tolerance. The arts are also a huge attractant for people looking for a place to work and live.
"The rise of the creative class is the key to economic growth to attract and retain talented people," she said. "People are attracted to culturally diverse regions."
Creative and economic wellbeing go hand in hand. Arts and culture contributes $4.2 billion to Canadas economic base every year. The Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit in Victoria attracted 342,000 visitors, injecting $94.2 million into Victorias economy. Locally, the 2005 Whistler Film Festival generated 15 million media impressions for Whistler and pumped $2 million into Whistlers economy over the four-day festival.
McIntyre stated more than 50 per cent of B.C. visitors are interested in culturally-based travel.
Whistler offers year-round events including ArtWalk, where businesses and artists work hand in hand to offer visitors a unique cultural and commercial experience. Cornucopia is an international showcase for local restaurants. The 23-year-old Whistler Childrens Festival caters to family fun, and the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival unites sports and culture under one umbrella just to name a few.
Aboriginal culture is a growing sector in B.C.s tourism economy to look out for. McIntyre said a 10 per cent growth in the area is expected, generating a total of $50 million a year by 2010. She noted how the Aboriginal Tourism Association of B.C. is conducting its first comprehensive study of aboriginal cultural tourism in Canada. She called the Lilwat and Squamish Cultural Centre the jewel in the Cultural Olympiad.
Business and the Arts Award nominees of note this year included the Four Seasons Resort for accommodating artists and donating space, Rocky Mountain Production Services (last years winners) for lending technical support for local productions, and the Whistler Marketplace IGA for its commitment to not-for-profit groups.