By Lisa Richardson
Under the Olympic spotlight, government coffers are creaking
Whistler’s arts sector, accustomed to scrounging for spare
change under the floormats, looking for what was left once the dogs and bikes
and lattes were taken care of, is suddenly flush.
The RMOW spent over $1.6 million on cultural services in 2005.
That’s the equivalent of 30 per cent of the annual operating budgets for
Whistler’s cultural organizations, which according to a recent cultural scan
conducted for the municipality is pegged in excess of $4.8 million.
Another $30 million has been committed within the last decade
to the construction of cultural facilities, from Millennium Place to the art
room at the high school, to current projects like the library and the
Lil’wat/Squamish Cultural Centre.
On top of the $1.6 million, Whistler’s hotel tax fuels the
Community Enrichment program, which allocated $200,000 in municipal grants to
community groups in 2006, benefiting the Forum for Dialogue, the Children’s
Chorus, Peak Performance Dance Force, the Whistler Theatre Project, and the
Whistler Writers Group.
The RMOW’s 2006-2010 financial plan also shows allocations from
the hotel tax fund to the Whistler Film Festival ($50,000), 2010 Celebrations
($50,000), Events Whistler ($62,000 in 2006, increasing to $162,000 annually),
the Whistler Arts Council ($100,000) and events support ($140,000).
My dodgy calculator reckons on an $11.2 million injection of
capital into Whistler’s arts sector this year from the municipality.
Add in provincial distributions from the Arts Now legacies
fund, Bell Canada stepping up to sponsor the February Celebration 2010 event,
VANOC’s Paralympics launch concert, the first pan-corridor forum of the Sea to
Sky Cultural Alliance funded by member municipalities and the province, and the
newly established $200,000 Arts Endowment Fund overseen by the Community
Foundation of Whistler, and the calculator print-out reads Ka-ching. Ka-ching.
If the municipality’s efforts in putting together a Cultural
Capital of Canada bid come to fruition, Heritage Canada will inject another
$500,000 in funding in 2009.
If ever there was a time to find decent paying work in the
arts, you’re looking at it.
Events Whistler hired Greg Albrecht in May to increase the
quality of events programming throughout the resort. His mandate is to increase
Whistler’s international profile by bringing in third party productions, and to
assist ongoing events to be more efficient in their programming, human
resources and sponsorship.