Arts council creates BHAGs 

"To put a man on the moon and return him safely to earth by the end of the decade." A prime example of a BHAG — Big Harry Audacious Goal.

Although the arts shouldn’t be rocket science, creating a renowned and sustainable artistic community in a resort created around sports and the great outdoors will be no easy task for the Whistler Community Arts Council.

Under facilitator Brian Luckock, who has overseen planning processes for Whistler-Blackcomb, the WCAC met Sept. 14-16 for the first step in its strategic planning, where they created a few BHAGs of their own.

Their mission statement: "To be the Umbrella Organization for artists, locals, guests and stakeholders, enriching the Whistler experience through the arts."

Their vision statement: "By 2005, we will be firmly established as the umbrella organization for the arts in Whistler. We will promote and inspire and environment where the arts can flourish. We will ensure the provision of quality programs and events for children, families and the whole community – bringing people together. We will sustain and encourage the local arts. We will embrace global opportunities that foster artistic diversity for our resort community. We will work towards the establishment of arts facilities. Ultimately, Whistler will be recognized as a unique model for arts and culture in a resort community. Whistler will be world renown for arts and recreation."

Their guiding principles: "We will conduct our operations in a manner that creates an environment which promotes the arts and inspires artistic endeavors; that is responsible and professional; that delivers quality programs and events; that continually reinvests resources back into the local arts community; that creates a WOW factor for our customers."

They are lofty and broad goals, ones that the WCAC was requested to take on by the Whistler Arts Study commissioned by the Resort Municipality of Whistler last year. The weekend strategic meeting, attended by representatives of the WCAC, RMOW, Tourism Whistler, MY Place, School Board District 48, Intrawest and the Artistic Community, examined how the WCAC would step from where it is, to what Whistler wants is to be.

Among its short term goals is operating efficiency and the creation of the full-time paid position of executive director, a first for an organization run by two part-time employees and volunteers.

The WCAC is also looking to encourage more participation from a greater number of community stakeholders.

"We’ve got our core group of stakeholders who were all part of the planning process, but we’re not really tied in with the 2010 Bid Corporation or the chamber of commerce, business leaders and with the arts groups themselves," comments WCAC Vice Chair, John Hewson. "We need a key document that we can send out to these organizations.

"Hopefully the community is going to respond to this and we’ll get some positive feedback. I’m sure there will be those who don’t fully agree with what we’ve done or quite how we’ve done it. The mission and vision statements are very broad and what they are is a declaration for the future. Obviously we’re not there yet. But what we see is critical is that we understand what the community needs. One of our key action items is to build better and more communication, which means going both ways – knowing what the local community needs as well as setting a certain level of expectations for visitors and arts-related activity."

The voice of the artist was well represented by long-time Whistler artist, Gavin Livingstone. Livingstone emphasized the needs and expectations of the artist must remain the central focus, as opposed to creating another money-maker or tourist attraction for the resort.

"Gavin really spearheaded the idea that for a healthy community, we should be promoting the arts as part of a balanced lifestyle," adds Hewson.

Specifics on how these tasks will be carried out were to be confirmed Sept. 26 (after Pique went to press) at a meeting of the WCAC and will be available to the Whistler community the following week.


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