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Growing Up Whistler

Whistler may be the ultimate playground for the rich and famous, but at the heart of the community can oftentimes be found in the sand and on the slide at the real playgrounds

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Layna Mawson is one of those people. Through her tutelage at Orkidz Art Studio, kids learn to draw, paint and sculpt in a gentle, creative atmosphere. Although she is temporarily without studio space, she is still running programs out of her home, or bringing her projects to homes in the valley. Clearly there is a desire for this type of activity, as her programs have sold out for the summer. This fall her courses will include Pop Tart Art for parents and tots, and an after school program three times a week that includes pick up from any of the elementary schools in town.

In the meantime however, kids can still get a taste of her offerings at this weekend's Whistler Children's Art Festival, where she'll be leading two sessions each day on creating mosaic mirrors. Kids will learn how to work with tile and grout.

"After this they'll know how to tile their bathroom at home!" says Mawson.

 

Growth of the Whistler Children's Art Festival

 

It's hard to imagine that the first Whistler Children's Art Festival began almost 30 years ago. It grew out of a group of moms just like Howe, who wanted to create artistic opportunities for their children. The first festival took place in 1983 and it has been an annual event ever since, with this year's event happening August 13 and 14 at Creekside.

The festival originally took place at Myrtle Philip Community Centre, with a focus on workshops led by emerging and professional artists and artisans. The priority was to give local children direct exposure to local artists and their crafts.

Over the years the festival has seen many changes. It was run as a volunteer event until 2002. That year the Whistler Arts Council hired professional staff that now put time toward the festival. It grew in scope again in 2005 when the event moved to Whistler Creekside. This year 3,500 kids and adults are expected to attend.

The Creekside location has brought more of an outdoor focus to the weekend event. Live performance has been incorporated to a much greater degree, with street performers, bands, musicians and magicians now making up half of the programming.

This year, kids can make Japanese fans, bear print T-shirts, crazy kites and fairy houses among a plethora of other workshops. For some of those workshops, pre-registration is necessary and parents can register on site from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Entertainment will include Kokoma, an African heritage dance and drum ensemble, children's performers The Kerplunks and Gogo Bonkers, and magician Sheldon Casavant.