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Let the Cultural Olympiad begin

Concerts, theatre added to Whistler festival in February

Whistler has readied the arts community for the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games with a yearly arts showcase called Celebration 2010 ever since Whistler and Vancouver were awarded the 2010 Olympics — the only town to do so.

There is now more arts to go around, with Olympic organizers announcing on Nov. 29th the launch of the official Cultural Olympiad, a showcase that will stage more than 300 performances and 10 exhibitions during the months of February and March in the Lower Mainland and Sea to Sky corridor.

“It really is about presenting the finest artists we have in B.C. and across Canada to showcase the great creative talent we have,” said Robert Kerr, VANOC’s Cultural Olympiad Director. “We are thrilled to partner with the Whistler Arts Council. Celebration 2010 has proven itself as a great showcase of the arts, literary and film. It seemed like a very natural partner for us.”

The 2008 Cultural Olympiad will include everything from the Spanish Harlem Orchestra and a Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad Countdown Concert with Feist to wheelchair dancesport ballroom dancing and the We yah hani nah Coastal First Nations Dance Festival, primarily staged in the Lower Mainland.

“What we wanted to do is really capture to the greatest degree we could the full breadth and scope of the creative community… Canada is a very diverse place,” said Kerr.

The Cultural Olympiad will take place this year as well as 2009, readying arts communities for the Olympic Arts Festival and Paralympic Arts Festival that takes place from January to March in 2010. Currently the Lower Mainland and Sea to Sky corridor are the only areas to host events, however, Cultural Olympiad organizers hope to grow the celebration across Canada.

“Our objective is to extend the reach of the Cultural Olympiad across the province and country,” Kerr said. “We are working with ministers of arts and culture to help develop a national program. If we are successful, and we have very good indications to date, they will unfold in 2009 and 2010.”

Cultural Olympiad events will work their way up the corridor with New Music in New Places and Scrap Arts Music 2 at the B.C. Museum of Mining in Britannia as well as Celebration 2010 in Whistler.

Celebration 2010, presented by the Whistler Arts Council, will carry on with its signature events, including the Whistler Museum’s Community Now Whistler history documentary series; Out of Bounds: Tales from the Backcountry photo exhibit; and Snow Sculpting on Whistler Mountain.

The program has significantly grown this year. Cultural Olympiad organizers and Whistler Arts Council members have partnered to host Celebrate Live in Whistler, a five-day outdoor concert showcase of Canadian artists.

“It will be basically two bands a day,” said Doti Niedermayer, Whistler Arts Council executive director. “We’ll have a local’s day with bands like A Whole Lotta Led and She Stole My Beer as well as bands from Alberta and the Lower Mainland.”

Also new this year is the Old Trout Puppet troupe’s presentation of Famous Puppet Death Scenes. The Alberta theatre group performs famous scenes from puppet shows.

The Vancouver theatre company The Animal will also build Canada’s first theatre of snow and ice to present a multi-discipline show called NiX inside. The show of theatre artists, glass blowers, composers and technology designers will be set in the great outdoors at Lost Lake.

“They will do a workshop this year, premiere it in Calgary in 2009 and then bring it back in 2010,” Niedermayer said of NiX.

MY Millennium Place is also hosting a number of theatre productions from The Arts Club as well as music from the Pacific West Coast Symphony.

Some events are free, others ticketed.

For more information or for tickets, visit or