Arts organizations reel in wake of cuts 

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"We've always been looking at 'what is the value added?' And of course we put on a big party and that doesn't necessarily build infrastructure, but I think we have built considerable infrastructure over the past few years and that's not going to disappear. The challenge is going to be, 'how do we sustain it and strengthen it?'"

Now, Popma said WAC will need to consolidate and choose the most important pieces of the artistic puzzle to hang onto and build on, while shifting some of the responsibility from higher levels of government to the private sector.

"Some of the local businesses well, they had a tough time too, so the relationships are going to really have to be nurtured," she said. "Also, the people who have experienced the arts in a different way are going to have to come to the table, too."

Now that these provincial funding sources have almost completely disappeared, the WAC team is looking at "creative" ways to make up for the shortfalls. Rather than just live with a bare bones programming budget, WAC will be stepping up efforts to raise funds at the corporate and private levels, appealing to benefactors to join their patron program and continue to support their work.

"Even $50 to $100 makes an enormous difference," Niedermayer said. "I mean, if you multiply that by 40, you've got $2,000, and that makes the difference with the Children's Festival and ArtWalk."

But it won't be an easy task. The provincial grants boosted the credibility of their organization, making it easier to leverage alternate funding sources.

"It's a matter of priority, too, and some people say, 'well, if it's not the provincial priority, then why should it be a federal priority?' It sets a tone."

Niedermayer is confident that the RMOW won't follow suit, and will remain supporters of arts and culture in the community. According to the draft financials for 2009, the RMOW made over $400,000 in contributions to WAC through various grants and fee for service agreements.

Staffing cuts are another option, though Niedermayer points out that their four full-time employees, two term workers and two contract summer employees are already stretched thin.

Niedermayer said it is "daunting" to face such radical cuts at the provincial level, especially knowing that Whistler won't have $500,000 from the Cultural Capital fund again this year.

"Last year, with the Gaming cuts, it really didn't impact us an enormous amount because we had the Cultural Capital funding, which was a huge boost to the cultural sector here," she said.

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