Bridge over cultural divide 

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Young says the mandate of Tourism Whistler is just to bring more guests to the resort. TWA is actively marketing the week through its Central Reservations office, offering packaged rates for a three night stay. In doing so, it generates revenue for area hotels, restaurants and shops, but Young argues only a very small amount of cash, if any, actually makes it into the hands of the artists. Young questions why only the artists leading workshops during Arts Experience are being paid. Why not pay the Artists At Work, just as the performers in Tourism Whistler’s street entertainment line up are paid?

"The mandate of Tourism Whistler is indeed to bring guests to the resort," says TWA communications director, Connie Rabold, "and therefore bring business to the community and our members. While we’re not directly delivering the business to the artists we are delivering the audience and the market to the artists. Therefore, a connection can be made at that point. That’s where the Arts Council takes over."

"(The Whistler Arts Council) is still a small organization and we frankly can’t afford to do that yet," confides Savage. "But we are providing a venue at no cost for the artists to showcase their work. They can hand out business cards and now they can sell (through Lotus). We are doing our best to help the artists. And there are a lot of local artists that are just delighted. I just had a carver call me and say ‘you mean I can carve and showcase my work under a tent for nothing all week?’.

"The rest of the arts community does seem very excited over this event," continues Rabold. "We just want to stress that the outdoor venue is the only place where one can’t sell any type of goods due to the bylaw. But there is certainly lots of opportunity during this festival to sell indoors (at Artrageous). This is a win-win for everybody, in that it’s creating awareness of our arts community and presenting this community to the public and the tourists that may come here."

Aside from the concerns raised by Young, Arts Experience does promise to be an outstanding event. There are nearly 20 workshops to choose from, with a wide variety to capture just about anyone’s interest.

The opening of Maurice Young Millenium Place coincides well with the festival. MY Place will debut workshops in its new video, audio and theatre facilities during Arts Experience.

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