AGM outlines busy year at Whistler Arts Council 

Meeting explored 2015 activities and future growth

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Change was the theme at the Whistler Arts Council (WAC) annual general meeting (AGM), as the organization's executive reported its 2015 activities and spelled out future plans.

"We've gone through a lot of change. This is our 34th year; the arts council was formed in 1982," acting executive director Maureen Douglas told attendees.

"It is a very different organization from where it started... We are proud of the direction we've been able to take, we've worked to be a collaborative leader in arts and culture in this community."

There were 513 members in 2015.

WAC remained a busy, growing supporter of the arts in 2015 as outlined in the annual report.

The Performance Series was in its 28th year in the 2015-2016 season. Fifteen shows, ranging from jazz, classical, children's theatre and CBC's This is That: Live! were presented.

The WAC secured the BC Touring Council's inaugural "Warming up the Act" grant in 2015 to support the engagement of aspiring local performers and musical groups. Three local acts — Blue Phoenix, Ruckus Deluxe and harpist Allison Hunter — opened for visiting performers.

In terms of the recently renamed The Gallery (formerly the Scotia Creek Gallery), 174 artists were featured in 2015, 97 per cent of these numbers being local.

And $12,388 in local art and artisan goods were sold at the Maury Young Arts Centre. And 234 local artists — including musicians and other live performers — were hired over the year, with the annual report noting that 75 per cent of all artists fees in 2015 went to local performers.

At the annual Bizarre Bazaar artisan Christmas market, out of the 130 professional and emerging artisans taking part, 38 vendors were first-time participants and 57 per cent were local.

The new shared-booth option for smaller and emerging artisans was considered a success.

Over 7,000 members of the public attended the two-day event last November.

Twenty-four weekly Made in Whistler winter markets took place in 2015, too.

Volunteers remained essential to WAC operations, with 138 volunteers working 1,673 hours for the arts council in 2015.

Whistler businesses were also important to WAC, with 36 local businesses acting as sponsors and 46 businesses donating value-in-kind to the arts council.

Other aspects of WAC activities explored included the activities of Community Cultural Officer Anne Popma, connections with the Sea to Sky Arts Councils Alliance, awards and bursaries, and community engagement.

WAC treasurer Karen Playfair gave the financial report for the year.

She said cash was down in the Statement of Financial Position — $111,360 in 2015, compared with $225,864.

"Cash is down quite substantially from last year, but that is largely due to timing. Accounts receivable is up somewhat, and accounts payable and liabilities are down a little bit," Playfair said, citing changes in cash flow.

The WAC Statement of Operations noted that donations and sponsorships were "up substantially," Playfair added.

"A big chunk of that had to do with the pop-up studio... we had a donation in kind of lease space... and facility rentals is quite a bit higher over last year."

Playfair also drew attention to a slight increase in wages and subcontracts year over year, which was to do with increased fee-for-service funding.

Douglas paid tribute to former WAC executive director Doti Niedermayer, who left the organization in February. Niedermayer was absent but her influence was very much in evidence, not least because there was a life-sized photo of Niedermayer's face at the meeting.

Board members Sue Adams and Keith Bennett stepped down after completing six-year terms. New members acclaimed to the board were Michelle Ratcliffe, Joan Richoz and April Andiel.

Following the AGM, two presentations were made to members about the name change and rebranding of the Whistler Arts Council to Arts Whistler, and an update on the Cultural Grant of $489,500.



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