Whiski Jack Resorts guest services manager Anna Francis accepted the first Business and the Arts award on behalf of her organization at a luncheon hosted by the Whistler Chamber of Commerce Wednesday.
The award was co-created by the Whistler Arts Council and the chamber to honour those business organizations or individuals with "significant impact on, or contribution to the local Whistler arts and culture community."
Whiski Jack, a condominium timeshare organization that was started in Whistler in 1979, was the unanimous choice of the four-member jury, made up of arts council members a chamber member and a member of the community. According to arts council executive director Doti Niedermeyer, Whiski Jack has been "truly philanthropic" in providing accommodation for visiting artists and performers in town for events such as the Whistler Arts Council/MY Places Performance Series or the Whistler Film Festival, and asking for "nothing in return."
Film festival director Shauna Hardy noted that Whiski Jack has been supporting her three-year-old event since its inception.
"We couldnt do it without them," she said, no small words considering the festivals guest list weighed in at 200 this year, up from 30 in 2002.
Preceding the award was a speech by guest speaker Max Wyman, who was introduced by Whistler Arts Council board president John Hewson.
An author and arts advocate as well as the Vancouver Suns longtime arts critic and commentator, Wyman made a passionate and articulate plea for inclusion of the arts into education and everyday life for the betterment of society. He quoted Jack Palances film-producer character from the Jean-Luc Godard film Contempt, "Whenever I hear the word culture, I take out my chequebook," in a tongue-in-cheek tribute to those corporations that practice true philanthropy: artistic support without demanding that parameters be created for their patronage.
"Funding culture is neither an imposition of taste nor an act of charity, its an investment in the health of the community, the same way building hospitals and roads is an investment in the health of the community," stated Wyman.
While Francis was chosen to accept on behalf of Whiski Jack and current president and CEO Mike McGough Jr., she and others also paid homage to retired founders Mike McGough Sr. and his wife Triss Bubbs. The couple, who bowed out of the day to day affairs of Whiski Jack in the mid-1990s, received accolades for having ingrained the spirit of support for the arts in the Whiski Jack corporate culture.
The award itself was a painting by long-time Whistler artist Isobel MacLaurin, titled Bruins Bedtime at the River of Golden Dreams.
Niedermeyer said it was important the award itself be something representative of what the winner had been supporting and emphasized the award creators had felt it was important to buy the painting outright from MacLaurin as their own way of supporting the local arts community.
Niedermeyer also said the Whistler Arts Council will be posting the transcription of Wymans speech on the organizations Web site at www.whistlerartscouncil.com