Creating an artistic legacy from the Games 

Any artists who were in town to experience the Olympic and Paralympic Games should start getting their creative juices flowing; the Resort Municipality of Whistler's Public Art Committee is going to be offering up a "substantial" Games-related project in coming weeks.

Kevin McFarland, parks planner for the RMOW, explained that the general concept behind Whistler's Olympic legacy art project is to capture Whistler's experience of the Games. But it's taken some time for the Public Art Committee to develop more detailed terms of reference for the project.

"It's a tricky one, because we know from past experience on our much smaller projects that when we've provided a lot of detail and even themed the thing, we really lose artists' interest in submitting a proposal," McFarland explained.

"And then times when we've had no direction we get a wishy-washy response, so we really have struggled with striking a balance."

But he expects that with a much higher budget than ever before - $200,000 - they'll receive plenty of submissions.

They plan to reserve $10,000 of the overall budget for the applicants that are shortlisted in the first stage of the competition, so they can use those reserved funds to develop more detailed proposals. That means that the remaining commission is approximately $190,000. Apparently, that amount is comparable to other artistic legacy projects down in the Lower Mainland; the Richmond Oval project is budgeting for $250,000.

"We found one that is comparable to us is the curling arena in Vancouver, The Hillside, was a venue, and they've actually gone through a call for artists for something as a legacy art component, and they were actually more than us," McFarland said.

"For us, it's big," he added.

The Committee gave local artists a heads-up about the project before the Games, so they could keep their eyes open during the events, looking for inspiration and ideas. But that doesn't mean a local artist will be selected; the competition is open to artists around the world.

The application process is anonymous, so proposals are judged on their merit, with the background on the team of artists revealed in a second, sealed envelope later in the jurying process.

"So basically, the jury opens the first envelope and hopefully they're blown away by a terrific idea, and then they go to the second envelope to see: 'Okay, can these people deliver?'" McFarland explained.

"As it turns out, of late, Whistler artists have been winning these things, too."

Four locations at Whistler Olympic Plaza (the site formerly known as Whistler Medals Plaza) have been identified as possible sites for an artistic installation.

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