Making room for arts and culture 

Lot 1/9 plans incorporate potential space for artists

It’s hard to imagine when you walk past the pit that is Lot 1/9 right now, but in a few years that same barren area may be home to Whistler’s vibrant arts and cultural community.

According to an information report issued back in March updating council on the Whistler Village Celebration Plaza — what Lot 1/9 will be called after the Games — the site will be “the epicenter for Whistler’s arts, culture and heritage precinct.”

Martin Pardoe is the manager of parks planning for the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW).

He explained that they heard a demand for incorporating the arts into the space through the community’s masterplan consultation process.

Plans include an Institutional Building Program, which could provide an area to house the Whistler Arts Council (WAC), the museum and other local arts, culture and heritage groups after the Olympics. Council will need to approve the initiative.

“That’s a decision for Council, and I think it depends upon opportunities that perhaps present themselves as part of the Games or the Neighbourhood of Nations program,” Pardoe explained.

There is space available for a larger building, which could be used as artist workspace and display area, similar to the setup on Granville Island, with office and retail space above.

“At this point in time, there is no timeline for delivery of that building, but that would be up to future Council,” Pardoe explained.

While the Celebration Plaza has a lot of potential for the local arts and culture sector, Pardoe said it remains to be seen how it will end up being fully utilized after the 2010 Games.

The site was designed by Vancouver-based landscape architects Phillips Farevaag and Smallenberg, but updated sketches and plans were nor available as they first had to be presented to Council at a meeting in July for approval.

But Celebration Plaza will definitely feature a large outdoor performance venue to accommodate groups and productions of various sizes. While it won’t be a permanent stage, the necessary infrastructure like electrical and data wiring, and possibly lighting and partial staging system, will be put into place.

“Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park has a clear stage and dance shelter above that. That’s not what we’re doing,” Pardoe explained, “What we’ve heard from people in the performance business is that if you build a permanent stage, it typically is the wrong size and in the wrong location for just about everyone, so rather than doing that, we’re providing a number of different places within the venue that people could set up a stage, and providing some basic building blocks for the stage.”

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