To the average arts patron, Maurice Young Millennium Place (MY Place) has probably seemed rather quiet over the past year and half, with only a few public events staged there. But there has been plenty going on behind the scenes, as staff from MY Place and Whistler Arts Council (WAC) have been hashing out a plan to merge the two organizations into one.
The merger rose from a functional review of operations funded by WAC and the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) that took place in fall 2008, which made a number of recommendations, including the key suggestion that MY Place and WAC merge.
That recommendation did not come as a surprise to Doti Niedermayer, executive director of WAC. In fact, she saw it as an important first step towards growing the local arts community.
"I believe that a healthy arts community involves numerous groups and organizers and presenters and organizers and passionate people," she said.
"But in this case, where there are two organizations that have such a similar mandate in so many ways, it doesn't make sense to have two separate boards of directors and two separate offices and equipment and buildings."
It has taken over a year to merge the two organizations, a process that has proven to be fraught with paperwork.
"It's pretty challenging to try and take two organizations and make them into one. But in between that we have to remember that we also had a four-month chunk of time where each organization had very specific objectives towards the Olympics and that was sort of time that we had to take away from the integration," said Louise Lundy, who stepped into the role of interim general manager of MY Place in March 2009.
"...We had to focus on what we had to get done and that was integration, cleaning up Millennium Place and getting ourselves ready for this merger, and that's what we did. And really we just couldn't take our eye off of that, and that's why we didn't do any programming."
To avoid expensive legal fees of immediately dissolving a non-profit society, which are estimated at around $20,000, they have opted instead to simply phase Maurice Young Millennium Place Society out of being over a few years.
"It's actually really expensive to wind up a society, so we basically consulted our lawyers and tried to work out what makes the most sense and what's the most affordable way to wind up the society," Lundy explained.
Now, provided that the board and Charities Directorate approve the changes to WAC's bylaws and constitution at WAC's annual general meeting on Wednesday, June 2, the merger will be complete.
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