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Stephen Vogler takes grassroots to the top

Artistic director of The Point Artist-Run Centre named 2016 Champion of Arts and Culture
Prized performer Stephen Vogler was named Whistler's Champion of Arts and Culture at the Excellence Awards on Thursday, June 9. Photo by David Buzzard/

It takes several days to pin down Stephen Vogler for an interview — which is not surprising.

The artistic director of The Point Artist-Run Centre is always busy, always organizing the next show at the centre, located on the far side of Alta Lake from Whistler Village.

This time it's the Writers Camp that has his attention.

It's an idyllic spot and one that Vogler tries to use to full advantage. There are shows and food inside the old bungalow that houses the centre and moving outside, where possible, producing plays on a raft on the lake in the summer or cutting ice from that same lake in the winter for ice sculptures.

His grassroots excursion into music, theatre, comedy, writing, dance, visual arts and more has been going on for years and has finally been recognized by the whole community — Vogler is Whistler's 2016 Champion of Arts and Culture.

When he is finally tracked down he is working on his own art for a change, a novel currently in progress.

"I work on it five days a week and I fit all the other stuff in and around it," Vogler says.

"The Point allows me to work with so many other artists around their exciting projects and it is an offshoot of my own train of life. It's natural... a place where we can all bounce off each other and share ideas, energy and collaborations."

He agrees that a life in the arts has its risks and takes a great deal of dedication.

He says he was surprised to be honoured by the Whistler Chamber of Commerce with the award after being nominated three times.

"When I picked up the award I said in my speech I was thinking that it would be three strikes and I'd be out," he laughs.

"It's nice to be recognized for something that is so grassroots like this. When it comes to art and culture I think this is the way it succeeds and grows. It has to come out of the people.

"When you start something like The Point, it is a long shot and it's great to go from an idea 12 years ago, to a fledgling arts centre, to something that is getting its legs."

Now 52, Vogler grew up in Whistler and can recall the resort's development from the 1970s on.

"In the '70s, culture was the Whistler Answer (the resort's alternative newspaper at the time) and it had a big influence on me as a teenager... it's a thread of continuity that gets passed on from generation to generation," he says.

Vogler cites new developments such as the Audain Art Museum and the Maury Young Arts Centre as important but adds that Whistler needs more.

"Equally important is for Whistler to have a thriving arts scene of living, breathing, local artists," he says.

"We need to make piece of the puzzle fit in this town and I think that's what myself and many others are trying to do."

For more information on The Point and its events, visit