At the monthly Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Tuesday, the Whistler Arts Council presented Pique Newsmagazine with their Business and the Arts award. This was the fifth year that the award was presented.
According to Doti Niedermayer, executive director of the Whistler Arts Council, the award is presented “to a business that has been an ongoing supporter of arts and culture in Whistler” through promotion, sponsorship, volunteerism, and other contributions. A forum of arts community members and business representatives nominate recipients each year, and decide the overall winner.
Darren Roberts accepted the award on behalf of the Pique, and on behalf of Pique Publisher Kathy Barnett. Barnett was killed on Jan. 29 while cycling in New Zealand.
“When Pique was created more than 14 years ago, one of the goals of Bob and Kathy Barnett was to provide locals with more in-depth arts and culture coverage as well as weekly entertainment listings,” said Roberts, Pique’s executive director of advertising and operations. “While we’ve grown and evolved over the years, just as Whistler has grown and evolved, the focus on arts and culture is still core to what we do.”
Roberts said that ordinarily it would have been Kathy Barnett who would have accepted the award, and proudly.
“It’s a tribute to her vision,” he said. “Kathy knew from the beginning that arts are important, and that a town with the creativity and passion of Whistler can only be made stronger by the creativity and passion of its residents.”
One example of Barnett’s support for the arts was the decision to feature the work of a different artist or photographer on the cover each week. The paper has also supported and sponsored countless arts and culture events over the years, such as the Words and Stories author presentations at the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival and the Luna Flicks outdoor movie screenings.
The award itself is a piece of original artwork chosen each year by the recipient. After considering dozens of artists, staff chose painter Chili Thom because they feel his growth and success as an artist in recent years mirrors the growth and success of Whistler’s art scene.
The painting is a long vertical landscape that depicts two snow-covered trees at sunrise, Black Tusk visible in the background.
Past winners of the award include Nesters Market, Whistler Real Estate Co. Ltd., Rocky Mountain Production Services and Whiski Jack Resorts.