Cultural corridor plans expand 

Collaborative group proposes new cultural initiatives

More and more Sea to Sky organizations and government officials are jumping on board with the Sea to Sky Cultural Collaboration Initiative.

"It is so important for communities to work together rather than be competitive with one another," said Joan McIntyre, MLA for West Vancouver-Garibaldi.

"People need to understand arts and culture as an economic driver for tourism. There is a great opportunity here. We appreciate arts and culture for what it is, but there is this whole other aspect of it being able to contribute to tourism efforts in the corridor."

The newly formed group invites dialogue among corridor communities to build partnerships and collaboratively work towards the building of a cultural corridor for the 2010 Olympic Games and beyond.

Attendance almost doubled with a dozen arts, heritage and government officials attending the society’s second meeting last Friday. In addition to corridor arts council members, the attendance also included McIntyre, West Vancouver Mayor Pam Goldsmith-Jones, Lions Bay Mayor Max Wyman, Whistler Councillor Ralph Forsythe and Squamish Nation representative Deborah Jacobs, just to name a few.

With more minds to contribute to the cultural brainstorming session, came more realized opportunities. Some ideas and opportunities the society explored included building connections with cultural institutions in the Pacific Northwest, using the centrally-located Squamish Adventure Centre as a gathering place, a corridor roving art show, host a cultural summit in the fall, and link into new corridor businesses such as the Whistler Mountaineer.

"There is a huge opportunity with the train service," McIntyre said. "It will bring hundreds of thousands of people into the corridor. There are opportunities for people to proactively benefit from: brochures, tours up to Pemberton and down to Squamish for different events and festivals – let your imagination go."

Five potential initiatives identified at the meeting include the development of an Arts and Cultural Tourism Strategy, scheduling and promoting existing festivals from January to March as well as the development of a Sea to Sky Cultural Forum, Spirit of Sea to Sky volunteer initiative and a Sea to Sky cultural corridor website.

"The group will identify and discuss priority initiatives that can be developed and implemented collaboratively based on existing resources," said group facilitator Catherine Rockandel of the next meeting. "and, the corridor-wide initiative(s) that the group would like to propose to Arts Now for funding. The group hopes by taking the lead on these initiatives that they can create benefits for all communities, arts, cultural, and heritage organizations in the Sea to Sky corridor from West Vancouver to Mount Currie."

Creating a united front for the Olympics is one of the group’s goals. Suggestions such as a Sea to Sky Sleepover would encourage residents to get to know other communities in the corridor. The group also tossed around the idea of branding the Sea to Sky corridor as the cultural corridor to the Games.

"We have a strong desire to find that common bond between us," said Kristin Clausen, B.C. Museum of Mining director in Britannia Beach.

"By the time the Olympics come, we need to have a strong brand for ourselves. We don’t ever want to lose the grassroots. We all have such unique qualities. There is something that ties us all together as well and that is what we need to find."

Doti Niedermayer, executive director of the Whistler Arts Council, says the time is right for collective regional planning.

"A lot of artists live up and down the corridor," Niedermayer said. "They are coming out for Bizarre Bazaar, ArtWalk. A lot of Whistlerites now live in Squamish and Pemberton. There is a huge sharing of resources, especially between Squamish, Pemberton and Mount Currie. We are really becoming a wider community from Mount Currie to North Van. It’s going to be a lot more fruitful for all of us to work together."

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