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Arts in collage

February’s Celebration 2010 showcases Whistler’s arts potential



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— Maureen Douglas, 2010 Director of Operations and Community Relations, Whistler and Sea to Sky Corridor

"I think that the hunger (for the arts) was always there, but there were not as many individuals around organizing and setting up various art groups. For anything to be established, you need a few individuals who are motivated and prepared to do the hard work it takes to make a group or an event a success"

— Stella Harvey, founder of the Whistler Writing Group (a.k.a the Vicious Circle)

Right now, there is incredible opportunity for the arts. There are healthy grants available specifically for the development of the arts, as a precursor to 2010. This program, however, has potential far beyond 2010. Lori Baxter, manager of the Arts Now program for 2010 LegaciesNow, gave a brilliant presentation a few weeks ago on a few 2010 granting opportunities. The money available is matching funding. This means that artists will need to seek out funding in the same amount, either privately or publicly. Matching funding also promotes a sense of ownership and encourages collaboration and local support of business and government. Arts requires financial assistance and support in order to take root and flourish in a permanent manner.

"As local artists, we are not owed a place in the 2010 Arts program, but with funding, support, and celebration, we have been given the rare opportunity to try."

— Heather Paul, Short Skirt Theatre and RMOW Systems Analyst

As for the present, most of the arts groups are spawning rapidly. The vogue and rapid growth of cultural tourism coupled with the bleak weather in January strengthen the case for alternatives to athletic activities. It was fascinating to observe what transpired as a result of the poor conditions. The Westin Resort and Spa hired local character Michele Bush to run a hilarious bingo tournament in the afternoons. Tourism Whistler held a couple of free movies, dream catcher workshops and fairy face painting afternoons at the Telus Conference Centre. The Whistler Arts Council and Millennium Place had a sold-out Monday night jazz concert; unprecedented for both jazz and Monday shows in general. The resort and community had to throw together events to appease locals and visitors. Many people are hopeful this season will encourage businesses to invest in the arts so future alternatives to the mountain will be readily available, not just thrown together when the weather goes bad.

Sandra Kochan, director of the Okanagan Cultural Corridor gave a talk at the Business and the Arts Award luncheon on cultural tourism and the Okanagan Cultural Corridor. Cultural tourism is on a strong steady rise. Individuals are looking for experiences and stories and history, more than sports holidays. They are mostly baby-boomers, they have money to spend and they are educated. They are seeking something meaningful in travel, and a "power-rest." This trend will continue and Whistler needs to change gears in order to remain a premier destination. Key points in the presentation were teamwork, marketing and partnerships.

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