Various Olympic celebrations have struck up in Sea to Sky corridor communities between January and March: Whistler hosts Celebration 2010, Squamish Wild in Arts, West Vancouver Winter Song and Pemberton Winter Fest.
All groups have operated independently despite common goals to increase arts, culture and heritage in the corridor and seize opportunities presented by the 2010 Games.
Catherine Rockandel, founder of Rockandel & Associates and a long time supporter of the arts, saw a need for dialogue among the communities to build partnerships and collaboratively work towards a cultural corridor and hence the Sea to Sky Cultural Corridor Collaboration was born last month.
"The objective is to bring together cultural organizations and communities in the Sea to Sky corridor to collaborate on arts, culture and heritage initiatives," she said.
Invited steering committee members who have expressed support for the non-profit group include mayors from West Vancouver, Lions Bay, Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton, Gibsons, Sechelt and Bowen Island. The Squamish and Lilwat Nations have signed on, along with MLA Joan McIntyre, the B.C. Museum of Mining director, B.C. Centre for Tourism Leadership and Innovation general manager and Sea to Sky Regional Development officer. Representatives from the Whistler, Pemberton and Squamish arts councils are also involved.
Rockandel, who is volunteering her time and passion for the project, was the perfect fit for the initiative. Her consulting company provides research, analysis, strategic planning and social partnership services to the public and non-profit sector.
"I believe that through collaboration we can develop a network of connections, supported by appropriate resources, that identify strategies to sustain our organizations and communities, assisting them to adapt to change while maintaining local identity and culture," Rockandel said. "Arts, culture and heritage initiatives contribute to community revitalization. They deliver significant public value and provide opportunities for individual transformative experiences."
Only half a dozen of the invited steering committee members attended the first meeting, held March 30 in Lions Bay to identify common opportunities and challenges arts and culture faces.
Some of the frustrations expressed included the capacity of arts, culture and heritage organizations, the need for more advocacy in terms of public value for arts and culture, lack of public buy-in on the arts, minimal arts and culture studies in schools and competition for much-needed volunteers.
Some of the opportunities identified at the meeting included the ability to build local community through the arts, enhance the cultural corridor through regional marketing strategies and develop a volunteer initiative for the whole corridor.
"The group really agreed each of our communities are very unique and has their own local identity," Rockandel said. "When you look at those identities in terms of a whole corridor, it is very rich in terms of attracting visitors and residents. What this group wants to do is celebrate the diversity and local identity while at the same time linking them all together."
Rockandel said the initiative is about more than taking advantage of the opportunities 2010 presents; its about developing a cultural economy and community in the corridor.
"Its about communicating the value of arts and the role of arts organizations in building cultural capacity," she said.