PARC hopes to get to The Point 

Local artists propose artist-run centre at site of former HI Hostel


Whistler may be a young town, but it has been home to artistic souls since its inception. Stephen Vogler and Vincent "Binty" Massey are two of the town's long-time residents who also make their livings as full-time artists. Recently, they've begun to devote their time to a new, grassroots arts initiative: the Point Artist-Run Centre (PARC).

This small group of artists, which includes Andrea Mueller, Christina Nick and Stan Matwychuk on their board of directors, is interested in seeing the former site of the Hostelling International Hostel, which was recently taken over by the Resort Municipality of Whistler, transformed into an artist-run centre, which would act as a cultural and artistic hub for the community.

"Whistler doesn't have a lot of grassroots space," Massey pointed out.

That's a common refrain from local artists: Whistler's real estate market makes it almost impossible to find affordable studio space.

PARC doesn't envision the centre as a new village core, but rather as an off-the-beaten-path attraction, akin to Vancouver's Granville Island.

"I think of it as being a behind-the-scenes thing, like a little gem that people hear about and they want to check it out," Vogler explained.

Under PARC's in-progress plan, there would be three central components to the site: a main arts centre to feature exhibits and small-scale performances; day studios that could be rented by visiting or local artists; and an educational centre where artists could take classes and study under visiting and local instructors. And they want the centre to be influenced and inspired by locals, in hopes of creating an authentic, thriving arts life and scene.

"We were sort of comparing Hornby and Saltspring and that kind of thing, where there's this community of artists," Massey said. "But if it comes from within, that's what draws people to it, because if it's us that are doing it, versus say, Cap College did an art program up here or something, it just doesn't have the feel of being a local thing."

Vogler actually lives just steps from the hostel site, perched above the rail line that separates the main lodge and waterfront area from the caretakers cabin that was Dick Fairhurst's original home. Even on a drizzly, grey day, it's easy to see how this lakeside site could be an inspiring retreat for any artist: it's almost completely silent, and the expanse of the lake stretches from one end of Vogler's dining room window to the next. It's easy to picture an author settling in for a month to work on a novel, or a painter working on the front patio of the lodge on a sunny day.

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