February 21, 2003 Features & Images » Feature Story

Feature -Mountain culture and performance art 

Alien observations of Celebration 2010

The circus is coming to town!

A travelling caravan of IOC members, officials, media and assorted clingers-on, for whom Whistler will crank up its charm-meter, like debs at a ball looking to lose their virginity. With the arts council taking the conductor’s baton, Whistler groups have been tuning up for over a fortnight of festivities and celebration; all to play to a score composed by the bid corporation to convey the image of a thriving, energized place that’s simply ideal for hosting a globally telecast event like, uh, say, how about the Winter Olympics?

Celebration 2010 (Feb. 14-March 8) is being touted as a province-wide celebration of Canadian culture in support of the Games bid. The $880,000 behind Celebration 2010 has been kicked in by all three levels of government. The money is a clear acknowledgement that a key aspect to a successful bid is a thriving and diverse arts and cultural community. With the spotlight on, a host country suddenly drags its neglected artists to centre stage, to show off its incredibly enlightened culture. (This might best be exemplified by the Australian government’s eagerness to embrace and showcase indigenous art during Sydney 2000, even as they simultaneously refused to offer the aboriginal people any kind of apology for a systematic forced removal of young Aboriginal kids from their families into mission schools during the ’50s and ’60s.)

The Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation has also implied that if we are successful in the Vancouver/Whistler bid, the pot will suddenly be overflowing for local cultural initiatives. And we can showcase to the world a place humming with mountain culture.

But hang on there. Mountain culture? Isn’t that like military intelligence. Government organization? Or a sustainable Whistler? An anthropologist from another galaxy (let’s use an alien to assume a level of objectivity that Olympic officials are hardly renowned for) sitting on Citta’s patio and observing the local bipedal wildlife would surely be forgiven for drawing a question mark next to that entry in their notepad.

Culture : ? Abundance of fleece and Gore-tex. Always armed with some kind of prop – wheeled contraptions, decorated planks, either broad, or long and narrower in pairs. Subjects smoke profusion of a forbidden weed. No other signs of significant cultural development or advancement.

Culture, from the Latin word for cultivating or tilling, encompasses both a growing medium, and the fruits of that work. Alexander Solzhenitsyn defined "culture" as the development, enrichment and improvement of non-material life. Our alien observer might hypothesise, uncannily astutely, that culture, meaning a thriving, vibrant, energized, artistically inspired community, can’t exist where the average family dwelling is… galactically priced. Yawn. People’s resources are already stretched thin just scrambling to meet the demands of material life. Assuming they’re interested in anything other than snow sports and real estate, anyway.

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