February 18, 2011 Features & Images » Feature Story

Olympic Games raise profile of Whistler as cultural destination 

Continued funding key to ongoing success

Page 4 of 6

"Even when I talk to people who haven't been to the corridor, they're like, 'hey, let's go to Whistler! The Olympics were there!'" says Matwychuk.

He adds that people will probably come to get their photo taken at the rings, get a coffee and walk the plaza, reliving the Games through the interactive sculptures that are scheduled to be installed.

"At the end of the day - I hate to use the word 'legacy' because it's just been too touted and cliché - but it's that long term benefit on-site in Whistler to give people the excuse to check the town out," he says.


Defining our artistic legacies


In Niedermayer's opinion, Whistler's true artistic legacy lies in the relationships that were created between all of the key agencies in the resort: the Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Whistler, the RMOW, Whistler Arts Council and Whistler Blackcomb.

"It was an opportunity to sit in a room and work as partners and really build a trust with one another," she says.

"Suddenly, it's like, 'Wow, the Arts Council is delivering on something very big,' and I think that credibility and that trust and that relationship that we created across Whistler, that's the legacy for me!"

Niedermayer has been immersed in Whistler's art scene since she took the helm at WAC back in 2002. When she first arrived in the community, she immediately noticed that everything arts-related was volunteer-run, and that those volunteers had set a solid foundation "for someone to come in and take it to the next level."

And take it to the next level, WAC did.

"The arts weren't really at the top of anybody's mind," says Niedermayer.

"The RMOW had the vision and had seen with an arts plan that there was a future in cultural tourism, because they looked at their competitors in Aspen and Vale and Banff - so they had looked outside - but the rest of the community... Tourism Whistler was like, 'We don't have any product,' other than TWSSF, and the mountain was like, 'What are you talking about?'"

"And that's where we started."

Those attitudes (especially within the "big three" - Tourism Whistler, Whistler Blackcomb, and the RMOW) have changed pretty drastically in the past few years, during the lead-up to the Games. In addition, we now have surveys that show that visitors feel arts and culture is an important component.

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