Alliance takes first look at cultural landscape 

Corridor arts organizations and supporters gather in Squamish

By Nicole Fitzgerald

Those who attended the Sea to Sky Cultural Alliance’s first corridor-wide meeting showed strong support, or at least curiosity, for the newly created organization that seeks to unite communities from North Vancouver to Mount Currie to create a cultural corridor.

More than 130 people from business, government and arts sectors attended Saturday’s daylong Cultural Forum of workshops and presentations at the Sea to Sky Hotel in Squamish.

In its infancy, the organization is not yet formally structured or recognized. Forum findings will help the group of approximately 20 steering committee members establish guidelines.

The Alliance could take a number of forms: one end of the spectrum is a virtual office with government/arts representatives; at the other end is a permanent, physical office with staff.

Currently, the political leaders in the group include Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, West Vancouver mayor; Max Wyman, Lions Bay mayor; and Joan McIntyre, MLA for West Vancouver-Garibaldi. Administration leadership is shared between Cathy Matheson, West Vancouver cultural services manager, and Catherine Rockandel, a Squamish-based consultant.

No funding is currently in place for the organization. However, with government heavyweights behind the movement, already the Alliance has garnered forum funding from West Vancouver’s Cultural Capital Canada Grant, with other municipalities contributing a small sum for food costs.

The forum aimed to build a collective vision for the arts, examine the benefits and gather feedback on common goals, issues and interests. The committee will draw up a report of the forum findings, make recommendations and formalize the next steps.

Although no action items were formally put forward at the meeting, amongst discussions in between workshops and presentations, groups started conversations about possibilities — a Sea to Sky ticketing office, a corridor website, a visitor’s trail guide to all of the artist hot spots and festivals along Highway 99.

The networking taking place was exactly what alliance founder Rockandel envisioned for the forum. After living in many Sea to Sky corridor communities over the years, Rockandel, a proponent of the arts, began to hear common challenges amongst arts communities. She wanted to create a corridor-wide network where groups could connect to build a stronger arts community.

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