By Nicole Fitzgerald
“It will be a loss to the arts council,” said Doti Neidermayer, Whistler Arts Council executive director. “Both have done a lot for the arts council. It was (wonderful) having these skilled, talented people.”
Over the past two years, Popma was a fearless leader for Whistler’s arts advocate group, empowering the council’s ability to influence the arts. With sights set on new horizons, Popma wanted to open her schedule to new possibilities, traveling at the moment.
“She’s been a great chair,” Niedermayer said. “She kept the ship on an even keel. She’s done a ton of work for nothing. She’s done a lot for the corridor as well.”
Traveling also instigated Clarke’s resignation from her three-year position with council as she sets sails for Australia. Niedermayer attributed the hard work of the “energetic miracle worker” to the growth of many of the organization’s events, including the Whistler Children’s Art Festival, ARTrageous and Bizarre Bazaar.
“She kept that connection to the roots of an event while at the same time taking (that event) to the next level,” Niedermayer said. “She really put in a lot of energy for this community.”
While the council searches out a new events manager, the role of board chair is already filled by a woman with more than 20 years of experience on both the Whistler Arts Council and Whistler Public Library board. Joan Richoz was a founding member of the Whistler Arts Council. She remembers the days when the council’s address was nothing more than a cardboard box of files passed on from one board chair to the next. Those days of meeting in people’s home have grown to a staffed organization with more than 150 members and countless culture events hosted throughout the year. Richoz played an instrumental part in the inception of events such as the Whistler Children’s Art Festival and the Performance Series.
“Joan is so rooted in this community and so grounded as a person,” Niedermayer said. “She really has a long history with the arts council, but she is also really excited about the future and moving into the future.”