The final version of Whistler's Community Cultural Plan is in, and it reiterates the need for accountability if the resort is to further evolve its arts, culture and heritage, based on the recommendations provided in the report.
Initiated in the fall, the development of the report was spearheaded by the Whistler Arts Council (WAC), who hired Professional Environmental Recreation Consultants to draft the plan. Its goal was to provide a long-term vision for the resort's cultural development by creating experiences that are uniquely Whistler and express the community's core values, which led to the list of 31 recommendations.
Each recommendation provided fell under several different headings, and highlighted such things as the need to provide economic opportunities to local artists, increase usage of existing cultural facilities and improve communication and cooperation among members of the arts, culture and heritage community.
“We think that collectively, the (recommendations) create a package, which needs to be looked at as a whole,” said lead consultant Brian Johnston in a presentation to council Tuesday (Aug. 20). “We need to consider being able to deliver at least to some degree on all 31 of these (recommendations), we believe, because they are interdependent in large measure.”
In order to ensure the recommendations are implemented, and to track progress on the initiatives set out in the plan, Johnston stressed the need for the creation of a staff position that could oversee the process.
“The message came through very loud and clear to me both this afternoon, but also in the presentation of the draft report in June at that meeting, that we have these plans prepared, like (2011 cultural tourism report) The Tapestry of Place, and that had an enormous number of recommendations and is a very important report, but it sat on the edge of the desk of several very busy people, and no one person was accountable for implementing the recommendations, and we don't want that to happen with the Community Cultural Plan, “ said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.
The mayor indicated the RMOW could create the cultural development position within its own ranks, or, for example, increase funding to the arts council to do so.
Johnston said more than a 1,000 inputs from members of the community went into finalizing the report, which was fine-tuned after the consultants received feedback from the local cultural community at a presentation of the draft plan in June.
Another major finding in the report identified the potential for more utilization of both public and private facilities in the resort by local arts and culture groups. Johnston said several of the comments received during the plan's development asked for “a specific kind of space that people felt we need right now
“We believe that investments in hard assets, like facilities, need to follow audience development and market development and justification for need,” he added. “Some of the facilities are not fully utilized and they need to be fully utilized before you start making additional investments.”
With Whistler's long-term vision for local cultural development fully in place, WAC executive director Doti Niedermayer hopes the plan will remain an evolving document that reflects the needs of the community it serves.
If we make sure (the plan) stays off the shelf and is a living, breathing document, I think we can make some huge changes moving forward with building our local cultural community and really integrating that cultural community with some of the bigger events and festivals that come here,” she said.