The eighth annual Whistler Readers and Writers Festival saw a 15 per cent increase in attendance this year, attracting a crowd of almost 200 people who had a selection of 20 seminars to choose from, including an evening poet's walk, "Haiku Idol," and a range of workshops.
The new Poet's Walk event even attracted the attention of the Globe and Mail , with its mission of making writing accessible to people while naturally integrating the literary arts into the community of Whistler.
The school outreach program also brought an author to town to visit with the local school, delivering three sessions to high schoolers and attracting several youth to workshops, including a 12-year-old who took part in the Writing a Screenplay workshop with Rebecca Wood Barrett.
After each session, participants were given feedback forms to fill out, and according to organizer Lisa Richardson, the response was very positive.
"The feedback really identifies that the strength of the festival is in its intimacy and accessibility, the ability to interact with people, authors, publishers, editors etc., and the chance to put the theories of writing into practice with drills, exercises, practice pitches..." Richardson said in a recent e-mail.
Even instructors were impressed; guest author Nancy Lee commented that this is the best, most well-organized, professional and amazing festival she's attended, even when compared to literary festivals in Paris and the UK.
The bulk of the events was moved to Legends in Creekside this year, where participants were able to enjoy free parking and a picturesque mountainside locale. Participants came from as far away as Vancouver, Salmon Arm, Vancouver Island, and Vernon to attend the festival, which translated into room nights for local hotels.
"...We did give people a reason to come to Whistler, and as part of an integrated resort arts/retreats strategy, I think those kinds of things can help the resort move into it's post 2010 reality," Richardson added.
Whistler Live! looks to locals
During the 17 days of the 2010 Olympic Games, the Village Stroll will come alive with not only athletes and sports enthusiasts from all over the world, but music and entertainment from performers from far and wide as part of the Whistler Live! events roster. But not all of the talent is coming from outside of the community.
The Whistler Arts Council and Whistler Live! team are now on the lookout for local and regional artists who are interested in participating in the family-friendly, daily and nightly programming that is slated to take place at the network of integrated live sites along the Village Stroll.