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Arts in collage

February’s Celebration 2010 showcases Whistler’s arts potential



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— Feet Banks, co-founder of the B-Grade Horror Fest and co-founder of Heavy Hitting Films

Artists – especially writers and visual artists – are, by nature of their craft, solitary. There have always been artists in Whistler, the Isobel MacLaurins and later the Vincent and Cheryl Masseys. The arts has always been alive in Whistler, but not high-profile, nor in adequate abundance to have sewn the arts into Whistler’s early and for the most part, current identity.

"The Arts Council had been around for several years prior to my arriving, but they had difficulty generating support for their activities. There were very few local artists, and virtually a non-existent infrastructure to support them."

— Anne Popma, founder of the Whistler Centre for Business and the Arts in 1988

A big part of the growth in arts, and in particular the Whistler Arts Council, can be traced back to the Whistler 2002 report, completed in 1998. The report found strong public support for encouraging artistic and cultural programs. Whistler council translated that support for the arts to its Cultural Plan, which included increased funding for the Whistler Arts Council and making it the umbrella organization for arts in Whistler. Instead of a volunteer organization reliant on municipal grants in aid, the Whistler Arts Council secured stable, long-term funding, which allowed it to hire a professional staff while still maintaining its charity status.

Due in part to the Whistler Arts Council, the last five years has seen a surge in the prominence and presence of the arts in Whistler. And look what is going on now:

• Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival

• The Whistler Film Festival

• The B-Grade Horror Fest

• Whistler Arts Council’s Celebration 2010

• Millennium Place and the Whistler Arts Council’s Performance Series

• Short Skirt Theatre

• Bushwoman Productions

• The Writer’s Festival

• Bizarre Bazaar

• Artrageous

• The Whistler Dance Academy

• The Artists Guild

• Stagecraft

• Neil Schell’s acting classes

• The independent filmmakers group