MY Place refocuses plans for photography, video 

Whistler?s MY Place is experiencing some of its first growing pains.

The newly completed building is to act as a community centre for religion, culture and the arts. The multi-purpose theatre is well-used by the resort?s many faiths and is showing promise as a host for music, dance and theatre. However, the facilities in the bottom floor of the building are taking a little longer to get off the ground.

A proposed video production studio has been put on hold while MY Place secures a new deal with an equipment sponsor. Originally the studio was to be managed and operated by Jim Budge of Longrun Video and business partner Steve Podborski, with state of the art equipment donated by Apple. The studio would have provided the opportunity for workshops in shooting, editing and production, as well as studio time for those already skilled in video.

Budge and Podborski ? who have other projects on the go ? have withdrawn from the building, but MY Place general manager, Rob Hallam, assures the space will still be utilized. Instead of renting the room to an independent company, MY Place will take control of its operations, organizing the necessary equipment, programs and staff.

"We are now dealing with the Whistler Photography Society in trying to build that video editing side back up with some other digital applications. We have a donor who is wanting to supply us with some intricate equipment and if everything goes as hoped, we will be replicating (what Budge and Podborski would have offered) but in a different way. The function will still be there for the community," says Hallam.

The Photography Society was also to have been involved in overseeing MY Place?s darkroom. Photography Society executive member, Ellen Atkin, was heavily involved in the design and layout of the room. Atkin had initially hoped to run her personal business, Whistler Photographic Workshops and Tours, out of the facility in addition to addressing the general needs of the Photography Society. Atkin too has withdrawn her services, saying the space wasn?t financially feasible for her company.

"We very much relied on her expertise to provide some direction for the darkroom," agrees Hallam. "In the initial plan, we provided the structure and she provided her own equipment. As time went on, that felt uncomfortable to us and it was onerous on her so we bought all the equipment. But we just couldn?t find the right balance for her and for us.

"I give Ellen a lot of credit. One of the initial concepts included the Whistler Photography Society acting as an umbrella to the darkroom activities, but Ellen was really the only one who stepped forward to say ?I really want this to work? and took the initiative. I think that?s due to the fact that the Society is still in its infancy and the timing was just a bit out," says Hallam.

On a brighter note, the darkroom is now fully functional and available for rent to skilled developers at just $15/hour, including chemicals.

The Photography Society is also pressing forward. An executive board has come together to include Atkin, Leanna Rathkelly (president), Rick Clare (vice president), Maureen Provencal and Jeanette Nadon. The board will hold its first public meeting in early November, when it will invite ideas and input from all interested photographers in the valley.

"We?re still defining our purpose right now, but we?re trying to offer an organized body to offer inspiration and interaction among photographers as well as possible avenues for showing and selling work. It?s a group for all levels including professional and amateurs," explains Atkin.

The Photographic Society has also completed an application for charitable status and hopes to hold its first show and fund-raiser in January.


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