Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Arts and culture front and centre

By on Tue, Mar 6, 2012 at 2:34 PM

The hornets’ nest that RMI funding had threatened to become should get a little less frenzied with council’s appointment tonight of an RMI oversight committee and a Festivals, Events and Animation oversight committee.

These are steps council identified last month as priorities when it introduced its Council Action Plan, (not to be confused with Canada’s Economic Action Plan).

They are also steps the Hotel Association of Whistler has been looking for. RMI funds are roughly equivalent to what the hotel tax used to bring in. The hotels feel they are responsible for generating that revenue and so they should have a say in how the money is spent.

The province has announced $10.5 million in RMI funding for resort communities this year, the same amount as last year when Whistler received $7.5 million of that total. Municipal staff is operating on the assumption Whistler will receive about $6.5 million this year. There’s no money yet, and no oversight committee until tonight, but the lineup for RMI funds started some time ago.

Off the top, the RMOW has budgeted $2.685 million of RMI funds for Festivals, Events and Animation this year.

The Whistler Film Festival Society is also on tonight’s council agenda, with a request for $338,000 in RMI funds to go towards the renovation of Rainbow Theatre. Previous estimates for the renovation came in at about $2.6 million. The renovation of the lobby/entrance area has been put on hold for now, leaving the WFFS to concentrate on renovating of the auditorium and adding new technical equipment, at an estimated cost of $1.626 million. An application for federal funding of $661,000 is another item on tonight’s agenda, subject to the province’s approval of $338,000 in RMI funds.

The WFFS is also looking for the municipality to increase its annual contribution to the festival, from $50,000 to $300,000.

Not all arts and culture funding is drawn from the RMI funds, but with the commitment of $250,000 annually for three years to the X-Games, council indicating in its Action Plan that development of a cultural plan for the community is a priority, the $2.685 million allocated to Festivals, Events and Animation and now the WFFS’s request, the arts and culture are front and centre.

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