Imagine being ushered past a stunning
cedar carving of the Squamish Nation’s sun into the new Whistler Sliding
Centre. Well, imagine no more — it looks like this type of traditional
artwork is going to play a significant role in the 2010 Games.
On Monday morning, the Vancouver
Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games announced
the completion of the first new indoor competition venue — UBC’s
Thunderbird Arena — ahead of schedule. During the announcement at the
arena, which was attended by Premier Gordon Campbell, VANOC also formally
launched the Vancouver 2010 Venues’ Aboriginal Art Program, which will see Aboriginal
artwork integrated into all 15 Olympic and Paralympic venues.
Dan Doyle, executive vice president of construction for VANOC,
said it was always the plan to include Aboriginal artwork into the venues.
“It’s something that we had in mind all along, and what we
wanted to ensure was that our budget would allow that to happen,” Doyle said.
“…We’ve been driving to ensure that all our venues are constructed within our
budget and it’s very evident now that’s going to happen, so that we’re able to
do something that we’ve always wanted to do, which is incorporate aboriginal
Back in May, VANOC’s board of directors approved the transfer
of $2 million from the venue construction central contingency account to the
general venue construction account to support the new program.
A common misconception is that a contingency fund is just for
emergencies, but Doyle said that isn’t the case — contingencies are
actually built into the overall budget.
“We’ve always held what I call a healthy contingency for all
eventualities that would occur during construction, and as it turns out, we
didn’t have to use it all for construction-related activities and so we always
had a back up plan to put in the aboriginal art, because its very important to
us,” he explained.
Doyle recruited Connie Watts, a B.C.-based mixed media artist of
Nuu-chah-nulth, Gitxsan and Kwakwaka'wakw ancestry, to manage the new program.
Watts studied Fine Arts at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and
Design and Interior Design at the University of Manitoba. Her artwork has been
shown across North America, and she is continuously working on commissioned
work for various corporate and private collectors, with the largest
installation being the Thunderbird sculpture, Hetux, at the Vancouver
“I really wanted to have somebody on our team who really
understood the cultural aspects of art and who could ensure that when we’re
talking about an Aboriginal art program, that we delivered the very best,”
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