The music, the art, the action, the entertainment, the food — Whistler's special way of combining mountain culture, artistic culture, sport and activity, and FUN was ramped up on several levels in 2013.
There was a bigger writer's festival, a Cornucopia that doubled in size, Crankworx broke records for attendance and even the ever-popular Garibaldi Lift Company had its best day ever during that festival.
And in keeping with the desire for economic diversity in the resort, major plans for Whistler's arts and entertainment future were announced in 2013.
The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) tabled its Community Cultural Plan report, with 32 recommendations that ranged from short term — such as changing bylaws to prohibit home-based business in residential areas — to medium term, like building a community art gallery. Long-term recommendations include things like updating the Rainbow Theatre — which received a huge boost in 2013 (more on that below) — and the creation of a new museum.
"This is a unique community that has invested very heavily in arts, culture and heritage, especially over the last 10 to 12 years. There is no community this size in the province that does it as well as you... But it's possible to do more," said Brian Johnston of Professional Environmental Recreation Consultants, the company commissioned to produce the report, at a public meeting in June.
Johnston added that Whistler's arts development should continue at the same pace as in the last decade. That means no new taxes or radical changes, but rather steady growth. "A fine-tuning of a well-developed system," he said.
In February, Festivals , Events and Animation (FE&A) funding from the RMOW went to the World Ski and Snowboard Festival ($135,000), Crankworx ($80,000), Wanderlust ($90,000), GranFondo ($75,000), Cornucopia ($75,000) and the Children's Art Festival ($45,000). Test and development money went to the Spirit Within First Nations' Festival ($35,000), Longboard Festival ($19,000) and the Readers and Writers Festival ($30,000).
The Whistler Film Festival, Crankworx and Wanderlust were three events that saw a reduction in municipal funding.
In October, the RMOW increased its FE&A Funding to $3.1 million, a growth of $320,000 over the previous year. Simultaneously, augmentation funding to support existing festivals, or events to boost programming was decreased.
And in December it was announced that 2013/14's winter event FE&A funding was going up by $160,000 to $431,000. This included more money for Family Après ($50,000), one-time Sochi Olympic celebrations ($80,000), New Year's celebrations ($130,000), family-focused Winter Animation for March ($50,000), the Whistler Holiday Experience ($75,000), and Whistler Blackcomb's Fire and Ice ($46,000).
It wasn't all smooth sailing for Whistler cultural event organizers, or the RMOW.
The Jazz Festival lawsuit by Arnold Schwisberg against the RMOW is set to continue in 2014. Schwisberg told Pique in a December interview that the dispute stemmed from Whistler allegedly damaging the success of his 2011 festival by advertising it as part of the municipality's own free-concert series, Whistler Presents.
And in the final moments of 2013, Dean Nelson of Whistler's gay ski week celebration WinterPRIDE said he was receiving $37,000 of FE&A funding for the 2014 event, which runs from Jan. 26 to Feb. 2. This has left it too late to secure the performers and talent that Nelson had hoped to bring to Whistler. He told Pique he is asking the RMOW to hold the money in trust for the 2015 event.
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