Emerson confirms Live Sites funding 

David Emerson

click to enlarge 1445emerson.jpg

Whistler and Vancouver will get $10 million each from the federal government to host Live Site celebrations during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“…Yes, we are confirming that $10 million is there,” said David Emerson, the federal minister responsible for the 2010 Games at a Live Site presentation in Whistler yesterday.

“We will have to go through the technical review process and put agreements in place, but we have set aside and approved $10 million for the Whistler Live sites.”

Whistler plans on hosting a 24-hours-a-day party every day of the 2010 Games. The stage performances, musical acts, theatre and dance will run in six different sites throughout the village with the largest venue being the purpose-built Celebration Plaza. Up to 25,000 people will be able to celebrate throughout the village.

The Celebration Plaza will also be the site of the closing ceremonies of the Paralympic Games, which will be almost entirely hosted by the resort. Athletes will also receive medals at the plaza.

“I love the concept,” said Emerson. “What is so important is to ensure that Canadians who maybe can’t afford to buy the ticket, or it is logistically difficult for their families to attend, or whatever it is, can feel that sense of connection to the Olympic and Parlaympic Games.

“It is an opportunity for us to create national pride and celebrate our culture…”

To date the budget for Whistler’s celebrations is $20 million. Another $12 million will come from the Vancouver Organizing Committee’s operational budget, and the Resort Municipality of Whistler will put in $7.5 million.

Most of the Whistler funds will come from the hotel tax and is not taxpayer funded.

The remainder of the funding will come from Olympic sponsors.

Emerson said it was too early to say whether there were any problems with the proposed budget, adding: “Generally speaking the budgeting associated with the Olympics has been very well done and responsible.”

Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed said the Live Site plan was based on months of discussions with all the stakeholders,

“The focus has been how do we capitalize on the opportunity and part of this is the partnerships that have evolved,” he said.

For Whistler the celebrations will not only leave the hard legacy of the Celebration Plaza to be constructed on Lot1/9, it will also act as a catalyst for arts and culture in the community, said Melamed.

“We are convinced that this will carry forward into the years ahead and one of the messages that people will leave Whistler with is the association with culture as well as recreation and service,” he said.

“Our intention is to create a party experience that you almost can’t escape. We want people to have an opportunity to experience the Games whether they are inside the fence of the venue or outside. We really want to make this a true Olympiad for arts culture and sport.”

To date, no artists or performers have been confirmed said Doti Niedermayer, executive director of the Whistler Arts Council.

“There will be the big names like say Nelly Furtado, for the ceremonies,” she said. “And then there will be some lesser known acts too, and some we don’t know at all.

“We are going to see some stuff in Whistler we just haven’t see before. If we are talking dance it might be aerial dance coming off a building rather than just on a stage as we might be used to.”

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