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In Conversation: Doti Niedermayer

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New WCAC executive director reflects on new role

Doti Niedermayer began her role as executive director of the Whistler Community Arts Council this past week, but she’s been working in the arts all her life.

"The arts are a reflection of who we are, and that’s how we know who we are," says Niedermayer.

"I’m interested in finding the heart of the arts community – there’s so many people in and out of Whistler, so finding that stable centre will be important."

Niedermayer, who comes to Whistler from Nelson, where she was director of the West Kootenay Regional Arts Council, says her primary tasks include meeting with members of the arts and business communities, as well as the municipality.

"We will meet with each of the arts groups and see where they’re at, and look at where it is the arts council is going to be built from," she adds.

"It’s a challenge to meet all the needs, but I see all the pieces as fitting together. Each arts council is different – I’ve noticed art councils in smaller communities tend to include all different aspects."

Niedermayer says the attraction to the Whistler job was the opportunity to look at how cultural tourism works in a resort, in addition to Whistler’s close proximity to Vancouver.

"There are better opportunities for professional development of artists here, whereas Nelson is very isolated. So if you want to produce a workshop or event, it’s expensive even to fly someone in.

"Off the top of my head, affordability is also a challenge I will look at. A vibrant arts community is affording (people the choice) to live somewhere, and my ongoing role will be to look at the needs of Whistler to know the goals (for council)."

She will also look to the strategic plan produced by the WCAC in 2000, which is gradually being implemented.

The hiring of an executive director was one key step to help implement this plan.

"In any service organization, I think asking ‘why are we here?’ and ‘what are we doing?’ are questions to keep things fresh. I think that’s it’s always good to be asking those questions."

Niedermayer brings a wealth of arts administration experience to the job.

"My father was an artist, and is now a travel writer, and we moved to Banff when I was 14. I attended the Banff School of Fine Arts, so I grew up with that sensibility."

In addition to working in Nelson Niedermayer has experience working with the Vancouver Fringe Festival, Artropolis, and the Greater Vancouver Cultural Alliance.

"Art is as important as anything else. It’s our spirit and our soul," she says.

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