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Arts council meeting to plan its role


Vision and pathway strategies to be explored

Under its new definition as an umbrella organization for the arts in Whistler, The Community Arts Council is about to begin strategic planning.

A recent 85-page study of the Whistler Arts Plan by Legacy Heritage Consultants and Professional Environmental Consultants was adopted by the arts council and Whistler’s municipal council last month. The plan outlined the needed growth and possible directions for the local arts community. A weekend-long session of the arts council will examine how it too must grow and what role it will play in the larger scheme for the arts.

The council recently advertised for the contracted positions of Facilitator and Project Manager to oversee meetings Sept. 14-16. Already, the council says it has a positive response from quality applicants and is looking forward to the three days which will focus on developing their vision and pathway strategies.

"The first thing will really be to create that umbrella organization, what does it look like and how do we do it," explains arts council vice chair John Hewson. "In the past, the arts council has pretty much been a community-based organization, putting on events and performances and arts related showcases for the community, and now we’re being asked to be responsible for all the arts in Whistler. So what exactly does that look like?

"There have been comments like the arts council doesn’t offer enough support for local artists and are events for tourists or for locals. Do we want to be someone who just represents the talent that’s here or do we want to build on that to become something comparable to Banff or Sundance, to have Whistler recognized, not just as a world class ski destination, but as somewhere for the arts. We need to put some of the soul back into Whistler with the arts."

The structure of the board has already begun to change to include representation from the four key community stakeholders, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, Tourism Whistler, Whistler-Blackcomb and Millennium Place, who under the Arts Plan Study have agreed to be financial contributors to the restructured arts council. The first initiative of the September meetings will be to produce the council’s first full-time paid position of executive director, who will offer consistent community and internal communications, as well as implementation and follow through on new policies and procedures.

This will be a closed door session of about 12 board members, but Hewson is quick to add that if Whistlerites have concerns or comments for the council, put them on paper and they will be welcomed and addressed at the session. The full details and findings of the strategic planning meeting will be made public following its completion.