More than 60 local artists of all disciplines gathered at Rockwood in Sechelt on Feb. 10 for a day-long arts and culture forum to hear about project funding through the provincial Legacies Now program and to exchange ideas with other artists.
Moderator Ed Hill urged the assembled performers, musicians, painters and writers to network with one another and dream about what could be accomplished for the arts when the world turns its attention to the 2010 Olympic Games. Salt Lake City, host of the previous winter games, was definitely an inspiration, said Hill, in how small communities surrounding the city could reap benefits of tourism and promotion long after the Olympics were over.
One of the major reasons for the forum was to hear from Arts Now representative Lori Baxter, who gave a lengthy summary of all the different arts agencies involved in creating the Olympics. While many of the components, such as performance artists at the opening and closing ceremonies, will not be selected for some time yet, the initial pilot programs for arts funding are in the works now. "There have always been legacies from the games," said Baxter. "They've always been sports oriented. We will be the first jurisdiction to sponsor an arts legacy."
This legacy will include all arts, cultural and heritage projects in the years leading up to 2010 as part of a four-year Olympiad of the Arts. The initial funding pilot project has a mandate of three years and will work with approximately $12 million of provincial funds. Already, the Arts Now project has received 230 applications from across the province, more than they expected, says Baxter.
Those who applied by the January deadline will hear by the end of March. Locally, about 10 project proposals have been submitted, including proposals for public performances and workshops from a theatre group, several festivals, including the Sechelt Winter Festival, a heritage celebration and a school mural project for youth. The Arts Now funding is aimed at arts groups and organizations with an emphasis on partnering with other groups and businesses in the community. The next application deadline will likely be June of this year. "If we do it right, we'll be the model for every other games," said Baxter. Ice artist Gordon Halloran of Roberts Creek spoke about capturing the interest of the 2006 Winter Games committee in Torino, Italy, where he will produce a series of ice paintings on a giant rink in a 250-year-old church. "On the Sunshine Coast we end up showing each other our work," Halloran said. "This gives a wider potential audience, an international audience, for our work."
He advised that any artistic concept aimed at the Games should be simple and straightforward, one that could be understood outside this area. Prior to this project, Halloran exhibited his work at the World Figure Skating Championships where he caught the eye of the Canadian consulate in Rome who was instrumental in making contact with the Italian Olympics.
Jenni Rogers of the Powell River Spirit of B.C. Committee, fresh from being voted the cultural capital of Canada by the federal Ministry of Culture and Heritage, spoke about the great strides the area has taken in the arts. Efforts include a new academy of music, the second year of a successful writers' festival and the continuing support of the international choral festival. Rogers points to their strength in the performing arts and wants to work with the lower Sunshine Coast to create and promote cultural events. She also said they have just been given notice that they will be the 2007 choice for the B.C. Disability Games.
In response to an audience question asking how Powell River was pulling off such achievements, Rogers replied that there are a lot of really inspired people in the area, and also that the municipality and the Sliammon Nation work together. That's the key, she said. The local Spirit of B.C. Community Committee sponsored the Arts Forum, one of many local organizations across B.C. designed to link communities with the province and to 2010 Legacies Now projects.