Arts council looking for space in library-museum 

The Whistler Library and Museum campaign to raise money for a new building kicks off Saturday.

At an invitation-only wine and cheese reception people will get a chance to meet the architects of the new facility from the just-appointed firm of Roger Hughes Partners.

"This is just to let everybody know that we are starting the capital campaign and then we will be approaching people for donations," said Anne Fenwick, chairperson of the capital campaign steering committee and the library board.

"It is more of an information session. We are getting a lot of support and we are very excited about it."

The new building is budgeted to cost $9.5 million and be completed in 2004. Half of money will come from the municipality and the rest will come from fund-raising said Fenwick.

It will be located on the current site of the library and museum portables. Although the site is conveniently located for users there are challenges to the site. It will exposed to the public on all sides, surrounding hotels and condominiums look on to it or across it, and views can be had from almost every angle.

For those reasons and others, said Fenwick, the design and look of the building is very important.

Inside there are challenges too, as the library would like as much natural light as possible while the museum needs spaces without natural light to protect exhibits.

While these issues have been dealt with more are on the horizon.

This week at a municipal council meeting the Whistler Community Arts Council formalized a request for space in the new building.

"Our needs are primarily for permanent office space and possibly working space for artists," states the letter to council by John Hewson, president and chairman of the Arts Council.

"We would like to be included in the planning process to also consider potential meeting space and community workshop space, in addition to being involved in the planning of gallery display and retail space so that Whistler’s local artists can be fully represented and included."

The letter from the Arts Council and a reply from the Library Board were referred to staff by council.

The request is a concern said Fenwick, chair of the library board. Not because the boards of the library and museum don’t welcome Arts Council involvement but because the process is so far along already.

"We are concerned that to launch into a lot of extra uses at this stage will hamper the timeline of the building project," said Fenwick.

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