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Olympic Plaza details unveiled



Whistler Olympic Plaza won't be completed until August's end but it will be busy all summer long. And that means you, the good people of Whistler, will be busy all summer long as well.

Beginning with the Canada Day weekend, the plaza will host programming every week throughout the summer. For Canada Day, the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) is throwing a four-day festival loaded with street performances and music by Ashley MacIsaac (for the fiddle lovers), Vince Vaccaro (for the hippies) and Fred Penner (for the kiddies), among others.

On July 9, the plaza will host Ska Fest, featuring Whistler regulars Redeye Empire, Vancouver's Giraffe Aftermath and Whistler's own Kostaman.

All RMOW-funded programming is worked through the Festivals, Events and Animations program - set up to drive more tourists to town through more cultural offerings - which is paid for through the Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI).

Third-party events like Jazz on the Mountain at Whistler will also host programming at the plaza by renting the space out from the municipality.

Bob Andrea, manager of village animation and events for the RMOW, says the municipality does not fund any third party festival programming but this year has hired Crankworx Events Inc. to deliver music programming as part of the festival, making Olympic Plaza the centre of music programming for this year's infamous mountain bike festival. Details will be announced in the coming weeks.

"It's just going to be this really entertaining place," Andrea says. "Not only will it draw people here but when they're here they'll have a great time and go away talking about it, becoming our promoters."

Andrea told council on Tuesday that construction on the pavilion - the stage - will be completed by the end of August, in time for the opening celebration. Also on Tuesday, the Olympic Lightening totem figure was added to the plaza. Andrea says the second phase of the children's playground will be completed on June 30 while both the pavilion and the Games Legacy art piece, commissioned from Susan Point, will be installed sometime in the fall.

The RMOW has hired Watermark Communications and Mobilize Strategies to oversee programming at the plaza for the summer. Watermark, known for organizing the World Ski and Snowboard Festival and Cornucopia, will plan a series of concerts during the first three weeks of August while Mobilize, run by Maureen Douglas an executive producer for 2010 Olympic and Paralympic events, will tackle the opening celebration at the end of August and additional program during the GranFondo in September.

Both companies were contracted last week so fine details of the events have yet to be sorted out but Douglas says she's hard at work.

"We're really working on an opening show that will be different than what Whistler has seen. It will certainly have musical entertainment but it's going to be a show. We're still developing the concepts so it's still too early to say too much," she says.

Burlesque drawing class date change

As you may know, the cabaret-meets-life-drawing Dr. Sketchy anti-art school has landed in Whistler. This is good news for those hoping to sketch live humans in leather corsets and stiletto heels.

Now there's even better news! The premier session has been moved up three days, to Sunday, June 26 and will now be held at Players Chophouse in Creekside. Participation costs $12, but that's not too bad because you'll get to sketch the one and only Johnny Utah, possibly clad in leather and almost definitely in some kind of air guitar pose.

Bass Coast ticket give-away

Oh Bass Coast, precious Bass Coast. It's one big, long weekend-long party at the beach with the best DJs the West Coast has to offer, and some of the best DJs worldwide. Not to mention some of the friendliest people on the planet, milling about, grooving on art and music and the sun with the sand between their toes. Ah, Bass Coast....but at $170 per ticket, it can be a bit too expensive for some people.

On Tuesday, Maxx Fish will be holding a ticket draw for two festival passes. Do you know what that means? It means you could go for free. For free!




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