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Moore says Conservatives have increased funding for the arts

Heritage minister’s visit to Whistler part of MP’s efforts to shorten the distance to Ottawa



The Government of Canada is as supportive of the arts as ever, the minister responsible for Canadian Heritage told a gathering of the Whistler's arts community last week.

James Moore said at a discussion at Millennium Place entitled Arts, Culture, Heritage: 2010 and Beyond that the government is "strongly committed" to providing funds for arts and cultural programming.

"Our government recognizes the importance of investing in arts and culture," he was quoted saying in a news release.

"We chose to continue to increase our funding for arts, culture and heritage in our Economic Action Plan in order to ensure stability for an industry that provides 648,000 jobs for Canadians and contributes $46 billion to our country's GDP."

Moore came to Whistler at the behest of John Weston, MP for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, who said he's been working to bring cabinet ministers to the riding in order to lessen the distance with the federal government.

"Minister Moore's visit emphasized the theme of my work as MP - shortening the distance between Whistler and Ottawa," he said in a news release. "Having Cabinet members here in the corridor helps us highlight our needs, whether it's to promote the arts; to secure jobs; build infrastructure; or ensure lasting legacies from the Winter Games."

As part of the discussion, Moore talked about the importance of arts and culture programming in Canada and how the government sees it as a priority and will continue to invest in it. His talk was followed by presentations from the Whistler Arts Council, the Whistler Film Festival, Whistler Museum and Archives Society and others.

Weston, speaking via e-mail through a spokesperson, said he talked about his advocacy work to create jobs within the Whistler community and mentioned an arts initiative he's discussing with the Whistler Arts Council that will help them promote Sea to Sky artists on a national scale.

In 2009 Whistler became a beneficiary of the federal government's Cultural Capitals of Canada program, which doles out funds to recognize and support Canadian municipalities for activities that harness the benefits of arts and culture in community life, according to the program's website.

Whistler, one of six 2009 Cultural Capitals, has received a contribution of $500,000 to develop Celebration 2020: A Natural Step Towards Cultural  Sustainability. It's a project that aims to show the community's commitment to culture and support a variety of arts and cultural activities.

Celebration 2020 aims to integrate ecology and the environment in its work, as well as use non-traditional sites to host festivals.

Other beneficiaries of the Cultural Capitals of Canada program within Whistler include the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival, which the Resort Municipality of Whistler said has benefited from Cultural Capital status and started a celebration of cultural elements such as art, music, film and photography that has "eclipsed the sport components."

The Whistler Film Festival is also considered a beneficiary of the status through its short film program titled "Whistler Stories" which asks British Columbia filmmakers to reflect on contributions and characters that enrich the area.