It's well known that artists are a fickle and elusive bunch. But in an impressive feat of artist wrangling, the Whistler Arts Council attracted about 80 people for the first-ever artist's meeting on Tuesday evening,
The meeting was essentially a large social gathering and brainstorming sessions, with flip charts set up around the GLC where people could jot down ideas on how to improve local arts institutions and events, with the hope that the ideas will help the WAC help the artistic community in Whistler grow.
Whistler-based artist Chantelle Pellerin said she came to the meeting to share and collaborate on ideas for the future of the arts in the community. Having lived in town for 13 years, she's met only a small portion of the artists living and working in Whistler so the meeting was a good chance to gauge passion for the arts within the community.
"I like the fact that the arts council is providing a forum where people can get together and talk. It seems like they're opening the floor more to individuals rather than just making decisions within their own group," she said. "It's kind of like it's an actual council that's involving the community.
Lisa Geddes, a local artist who has volunteered for WAC several times in the past, said she was "pleasantly surprised" by the turnout and was encouraged by the kinds of suggestions that people were offering.
"I got the idea that a lot of the artists there really believed that there's going to be some serious action and cultural tourism isn't just a catchy phrase, that there is some incentive in the community," she says.
People's ideas ran from insightful tweaks of existing programming to wildly impractical fantasies. Some ideas included an exchange of art/artists through the Scotia Creek Gallery with art/artists from other galleries in other cities around the world; the option of busking and auditioning local performers for RMOW's Whistler Street Entertainment program; "survival workshops" for Whistler artists; and possibly making ARTrageous a month-long event rather that a one-night-only party in order to promote the sale of work by local artists.
Chili Thom, the evening's host (and increasing Bob Ross lookalike), said that the arts council has attempted to gather this information in the past through surveys, but the full scope of the community's needs have been difficult to gauge when its being expressed through computer.
The goal of the night, he said, was to get like-minded people in the same room to start brewing the creativity to build on one another's ideas.
"You guys are the people who can give us the ideas that can help us make each one of these events all spike and all go way further than we can rather than if we were all sitting around in a board meeting talking budgets and thinking of ideas," Chili said.
WAC executive director Doti Niedermayer said that the arts council will be leading the charge in compiling Whistler's cultural community plan over the next year, and several more meetings like this one will be held in the next six to eight months to get more feedback as the process unfolds. Input from the community's artists is going to be essential.
"Really, it's a symbiotic relationship between the arts council and you as artists," she said.
"If we're really going to try and grow as a cultural destination, which is what we're trying to do, as well as being known for sports and recreation, we really do rely on each other."