A&E » Arts

Umbrella organization for arts moving forward



Sea to Sky Cultural Alliance now seeks municipal approval and funding for administration


By Nicole Fitzgerald

An umbrella organization that will co-ordinate and promote arts throughout the Sea to Sky corridor is formally taking shape.

“The (2010) Games are really seen as the catalyst, just as the Vancouver Cultural Alliance arose out of Expo ’86,” said Cathy Matheson, who sits on the Sea to Sky Cultural Alliance Committee.

“I think for many arts organizations and cultural initiatives, it’s about working together and we have a unique region and there is an opportunity for us to be stronger together. My hope is that in 10 years, we have a strong website and brand, and people come to experience the Sea to Sky not just for the natural environment, but for a cultural and arts experience as well.”

The Sea to Sky Cultural Alliance was formed a year ago by representatives from West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Squamish, Squamish Nation, Village of Lions Bay, Whistler, Pemberton, Mount Currie, Bowen Island, Britannia Beach, Gibsons and the Lil’wat Nation.

The goal was to create cultural links between the various communities and develop a corridor-wide cultural agenda. A forum was held in November 2006, where various arts and culture representatives were invited to develop and explore a cultural alliance vision.

Brainstorming sessions resulted in a number of recommendations, which were summarized in the Sea to Sky Cultural Alliance Forum report released earlier this week.

From the 10-page report, the committee is moving forward with two initiatives: to have the alliance officially recognized by the regions and formulate a business plan based on the report, which will require funding.

“We need to be recognized as a legitimate entity,” Matheson said.

“The second real outcome is to create the report into a business plan framework and look for some seed funding. We need to get together with the steering committee to potentially look for additional funding through other funding entities to secure some administration.”

Five key initiatives were identified in the report: to raise the profile of the corridor to arts and culture audiences by recognition of the alliance, securing funding for a part-time administrator and demonstrating the economic benefits of arts, culture and heritage; the design of a corridor marketing and branding plan to attract global audiences; stimulate collaboration and co-operation among corridor communities; leverage resources within communities to improve corridor infrastructure; and encourage development of artists by hosting a regional survey to determine their development needs and providing training opportunities to further hone their craft.

Once regional approval is achieved, the committee will move forward with seeking out administrative funding then hosting quarterly meetings to formulate and move forward with a business plan.

“One of the things that was a high priority from the forum was branding and a website to raise the profile of arts and culture in the corridor,” Matheson said. “We have already seen benefits, just the fact that people came together for the forum, relationships are already being built.”