A milestone to celebrate — happy 30th birthday WAC 

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It is nearly impossible to imagine a world without art.

Art is in everything around us from the crazy finger-painted masterpieces our kids create as toddlers, to the art we choose to decorate with, to the content in Pique.

It is something so intrinsic to the human condition that I think most of us give it little thought in our day-to-day lives.

As youngsters, many moan at having to do art projects in school, some take it in post-secondary institutions thinking it an easy credit — not true by the way — few have the courage to actually pursue it for a living.

But there is no escaping that art is part of who we are and how we have lived from the days of the caveman/woman to today.

As I pondered that and the amazing fact that this month marks the 30th anniversary of the Whistler Arts Council (WAC) I wondered about the role of art in our community, indeed in our way of life.

Why was it that a group of Whistler locals all those years ago decided that the budding ski resort needed to have art as part of its way of life?

In some ways the answer is simple — it was impossible to imagine that Whistler could grow without art in its many forms. Inconceivable in fact.

It was a way to make our home special.

This "Making Special" is in fact one of the key foundations of a lifelong study done by author and intellect Ellen Dissanayake, who has made it her life's work to look at the link between art, psychology, anthropology and ethology.

"We don't have a verb, 'to art,' but what are artists, dancers, poets doing?" she asked during an interview with the University of Washington Alumni magazine Columns.

"They're taking the ordinary and making it special. You create a bowl out of mud but you don't leave it ordinary, you make it special by engraving a pattern or figures on it. A poet takes ordinary words and makes them special. An artist places an activity or an artifact in a realm different from the everyday."

Isn't that indeed what we see when we look around Whistler? From the art that hangs in local restaurants and businesses for WAC's ArtWalk, to the murals painted on our bridges, to the whimsical "yarn bombs" we are all enjoying around town.

Then there are the storytellers and playwrights who regale us with tales of Whistler's past or poke fun at the present — and, of course, music and dance which are also part of Whistler's soul.

The story of our art is also the story of Whistler's transitions — it can be seen in how our artistic offerings have changed from the purely volunteer-based organizations, which led the charge in the '80s, to the multi-million dollar plans underway to reinvent some of our artistic offerings, both on the street, and through music and more.

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