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Feature - Angels of Whistler

There are many people who donate their time to make Whistler a better place, here are five of them

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"The arts are what make us human. Mankind has expressed himself through the arts since prehistoric times and it’s a natural inclination to use music, dance, and art to visually express ourselves.

"Providing opportunities to do that is difficult in a community that is as based on athletics and outdoors activities as Whistler is, but it is coming."

Sharon Broatch’s lifelong passion for the arts is no secret, and for the past 13 years or so her mission has been to bring that passion here.

"I tried to maintain all my season tickets to arts clubs, playhouses and the ballet when I moved to Whistler 20 years ago," she laughs. "I drove up and down the highway because I was determined that I would still be able to do all those things, but eventually it just gets to be too much. But I still maintain the ballet ones."

The primary focus of Broatch’s work though the arts council has been improving arts opportunities for children. The annual Children’s Art Festival, whereby kids get to participate in hands-on art workshops over a weekend, is one of her special projects. She and a friend also initiated the highly popular Missoula Children’s Theatre, an annual event that brings actors to town to work with local children over the course of a week to produce a full musical show. Auditions typically attract up to 100 hopefuls for 60 spots.

"I think the opportunity to perform on a stage in full costume with lights and scripts in front of a live audience is huge," she says. "It’s always intriguing to see different children shine in different areas."

Her other, more general, projects include co-coordinating the annual Bizarre Bazaar Christmas craft fair, which showcases local artists, and the council’s series of performances, which brings musicians, artists and theatre into the community.

To Broatch, it’s all about achieving balance between physical activity, and arts and culture.

"It’s so rewarding to see where we were 13 years ago with some of these events and see how solid and well respected they are in the community, and how people count on them to go ahead for their kids."

However, she says Whistler is still light years away from what similar-sized resorts such as Banff, Aspen and Vail have achieved in the arts.

"Down the road, when Whistler can sustain the operation of a cultural centre, that will be great," she enthuses. "The planned library-museum building and the First Nations Cultural Centre near Blackcomb will be wonderful additions to the community and enhance the Whistler experience, both for residents and visitors. We may attract people because of the skiing, but we will attract them a second or third time because of all the other things we have as well."

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