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Get to The Point

Saturdays at The Point will feature artists’ workshops, live music and an artisans market



For six Saturdays starting this week, The Point on Alta Lake will be a small haven for artists.

Saturdays at The Point will run through the summer until Sept. 3 and will include a six-week creative writing workshop with Rebecca Wood Barrett; introductory and advanced guitar sessions with Papa Josh; drop-in photography workshops with David Buzzard on July 23 and 30; and a leather working course with Julia Vagelatos on August 6 and 13 for $100.

Barrett's $120 writing workshop is a six-week course aimed at introductory writers with some guidance for the more experienced. Papa Josh is also offering a six-week course along with $25 drop-in sessions.

There will also be free weekly songwriters' circles with Rob Ebbs, a small artisans market and live music. Whistler author Stephen Vogler, the mastermind behind the program, will set up the Book Shop Café selling locally authored and used books, coffee, tea, salads and barbequed smokies.

"It's been a hostel for well over 30 years so a lot of the community is not familiar with this place," Vogler says. "People who have lived here for 20 years have never been down here and so this a community hall approach to it. We're welcoming the community down into it."

Vogler hopes Saturdays at The Point will be a way to drum up support from the community and the tourists for an artists' workspace to be set up there permanently. For over a decade, Vogler has dreamt of turning The Point into Whistler's centre for the arts. The municipality owns the land and until last year had been leasing it to HI Hostels.

Last summer, after the hostel split for a bigger space in Cheakamus Crossing, Vogler jumped on the chance to work his vision - a smaller version of the Banff Centre that's busy year-round, where the public can interact with artists while they work. Ideally, The Point would host workshops for the public as well university programs like UBC's creative writing program or any of Emily Carr's programs. It 's a hub that Vogler hopes will produce some interesting work.

"It's become at least a short-term physical reality, which is exciting when you work on an idea for a long time and it's all just emails and meetings and stuff. It's rewarding to actually see it," he says,

Saturdays at The Point may be the first step in reaching this goal.

"It's a way of showing what it could be on a more regular, full-time, ongoing basis, but we are definitely on a trial run here," he says.

Today, the old hostel is mostly empty. It smells of dust and mothballs. Volger has spent the last couple of weeks buying new furniture, collecting local artwork and painting the south-facing wall. He has a group of supporters - most of them from The Point's board of directors - helping him on a volunteer basis.

"Part of what we're trying to do is not cost any money to the municipality. We're paying rent to use the place, we've had some paint donated by a local business and we're going to do the work ourselves," Volger says.

He says the municipality has been supportive of the project, as it fits under its intentions for the Cultural Tourism Development Strategy, promoting the local arts as well as its heritage - the old hostel is the only lodge of its kind left in Whistler.

The municipality has yet to decided what to do with the land and is viewing Saturdays at The Point as one pilot project among several others for possible future use. Currently, the old hostel is vacant and the property is only used for youth summer sailing classes.

By Saturday, it'll be a lively alternative for locals and visitors who'd like to explore outside the village.

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