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Whistler Arts Council, museum denied gaming grants

Two organizations each lost $40,000 in funding, aren't sure how they'll compensate



In a devastating blow, both the Whistler Arts Council and Whistler Museum and Archives learned last week they won't receive any money from the provincial government's annual Direct Access gaming grants.

Now, the two community organizations are scrambling to figure out just how deeply the cut will affect their operations.

Neither group will benefit from Minister of Housing and Social Devleopment Rich Coleman's announcement last Wednesday morning that the provincial government will fully fund organizations that received three-year community gaming grant commitments.

For the arts council, which recently relocated to MY Millennium Place, executive director Doti Niedermayer said she doesn't want to completely slash a single program or staff member, but it will be difficult to balance their finances without making drastic changes.

"The funding traditionally goes towards our summer programs like the Children's Arts Festival, Art Walk and the summer art workshops," said Niedermayer. "They form the foundation of our summer programs. I would hesitate to cancel any one program because it really then has an impact to the local artists and local community, but at some point, someone is going to get impacted."

The arts council has received money through Direct Access for at least 10 years. Last year arts council received $40,000, and Niedermayer said they already have contracts lined up for next year because they assumed the funding would be in place.

"When everyone sent in their applications in January, there was nothing on the gaming website that said they weren't going to be approving funds that they had previously approved," she said.

Over at the Whistler Museum, located in the old library building, things are looking similarly bleak.

Jehanne Burns said last week her board is still discussing exactly how to compensate for the $40,000 loss, and they will have more concrete answers later this week. Regardless, though, the cut will resonate deeply within the non-profit society.

"We only have X number of dollars, so something has to go," said the museum's education manager. "We don't know what that something is, but it is going to be something."

The museum's new president, John Hetherington, added this week no one will be laid off from the museum's staff until the end of December at least.

He said the museum is hoping to find new sources of funding in the next two or three months.

"A lot of these programs are going to be revised and the emphasis is going to be on revenue generating programs because we don't have the funds to put on programs that don't generate revenue," said Hetherington.