Olympic bid impacting arts and culture now 

When it comes to the 2010 Olympics we’ve all heard about the infrastructure, the costs and the politics involved with hosting the main event but what about the fun part? The parties, the concerts, the festivals and the cultural showcase that will be a major feature of the Games before and during the big event?

Those opportunities were the main theme behind a brain storming session hosted by the Whistler Arts Council recently. Approximately 40 members of the arts community from Pemberton, Squamish and Whistler and several of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Bid Committee were in attendance.

"It’s very exciting when you consider what some of the opportunities will be if we win the bid," said WAC director Doti Niedermayer. "You can expect many special festivals showcasing local talent during the Games and in 2007 and 2008 there will be national programs and touring productions. In 2009 the international phase comes in with Canadian productions touring the world."

On-hand at the meeting were several people working closely with the cultural component of the 2010 bid including Burke Taylor, executive director of 2010 cultural programs; Marti Kulich, consulting producer for ceremonies and festivals; and Maureen Douglas, director of community relations in Whistler.

Some of the main themes discussed included:

• the temporary site seating 9,000 at the driving range for the live ceremonies and medal awards won in Whistler;

• All paralympic ceremonies except for opening ceremonies will be staged in


• There are enormous opportunities for individual artists and arts

organizations in development, showcases, co-productions and co-marketing;

• There are huge leveraging possibilities with provincial and federal governments with millions of dollars being invested in B.C.

"There are three levels of opportunities with the Games," explained Neidermayer. "Firstly, creating events completely sponsored by the Games; secondly events that are co-produced between local groups and the Games; and thirdly, events that are produced locally and marketed and sanctioned by the Games."

Producer of Celebration 2010 (the preview event showcased throughout the province in March) Duncan Low said the enthusiasm for the Olympics in the cultural community speaks for itself – 400 events in 46 communities in four weeks to 30,000 people.

Maureen Douglas said the benefits are being felt with or without the Games.

"Maureen noted that Celebration 2010 was the first time so many arts groups in Whistler worked together on one large project. This is a huge opportunity to build on that and continue to work together to build the arts in Whistler. Working together provides more strength in seeking funding, community support and corporate partners," said Niedermayer.

Local arts council members and the Olympic bid members put together an Action Plan. Some of the key points were:

• to start lobbying provincially and federally as a group;

• to discuss seeking funds from the provincial Olympic Arts Endowment as a group;

• To decide (as a community) whether we want to continue with a Celebration 2010 in 2011, 2012 etc. so that by the time the pre-Olympic festivals begin in 2006 we are already positioned with a successful festival/events;

• To decide as a community whether we will continue with a Celebration 2010-type event regardless of the Olympic bid’s success. A cohesive and co-operative showcase of the arts was considered. This event was thought to be very successful in raising the profile of local arts groups, had excellent attendance and, as a combined effort, made an impact that was recognized by other communities in B.C.;

• To create a Sea to Sky Cultural Task Force to facilitate communication between Pemberton, Whistler and Squamish and ensure participation from the entire corridor in Olympic arts initiatives.

WAC will be calling another meeting with arts groups to discuss the action plan and determine interest in moving ahead as a group rather than individually. Call WAC at 604-935-8419 for more information.

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