Arts organizations reel in wake of cuts 

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"We've all worked together very, very hard to build this and suddenly it does feel a bit like the rug's been pulled out, because it's a huge cutback," Niedermayer said. "It's not a small cutback, it's not a small reduction that you might expect after all this lead-up to the Games and a lot of money invested. It's an enormous step back."

While Niedermayer was expecting that the Gaming Grants would be eliminated again this year, and that they might see a 15 to 20 per cent cut in funding from the B.C. Arts Council, she was "hugely surprised" to see the magnitude of the cuts.

"I kind of figured it would take a few years to even out. I didn't put Gaming money in my budget this year and I knew we needed a new strategy for the next three to five years," she said. "But I really wasn't expecting the cutbacks from the B.C. Arts Council. I really did think the provincial government would continue that funding, knowing what they had invested up to this point."

While cultural legacies may be more intangible than the infrastructure investments in Highway 99 and venues like the sliding centre and Whistler Olympic Park, Niedermayer said they were meant to be just as lasting. She is concerned now that much of their hard work could be undone.

"What was the point? It's sort of like putting in a highway and then taking it out again," she laughed. "Because really, the reason you put in the highway in the first place was to ensure that there was an ease of traffic to Whistler in the future and to ensure that tourism would grow and that the highway would be a long-term legacy. It's the exact same thing."

Anne Popma founded and operated the Whistler Centre for Business and the Arts for 10 years and did consulting work for WAC in the years leading up to the Games. She expects the provincial cuts to have a "significant" impact on the local arts sector.

"It was a wonderful opportunity and now we're going to have a tough time," Popma said. "I don't think there's any way we're going to be able to retain the same level of activity as we've had over the past couple of years."

Popma was always concerned that funding would diminish after the Olympics, so they worked towards raising the profile of local arts and cultural offerings and setting up lasting legacies, like the Whistler Museum's new exhibit and the Community Foundation of Whistler's Endowment for the Arts fund, which were designed to help after the Olympic funding dried up.

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