Work on the proposal to turn the old Whistler hostel into an artist-run centre continued at an open meeting last Wednesday (Dec. 15).
A group of local artists has created the Point Artist-Run Centre Society and is campaigning to use the municipally owned buildings as a creative base and centre for working artists to interact with the general public.
Called The Point, the centre would be available for use by all creative artists, including painters, sculptors, photographers, musicians, film makers, and writers.
“We are working away fiendishly,” said local writer Stephen Vogler. “Tonight is all about conception.”
Twenty local artists came to Creekbread to discuss ideas over pizza and beer and the meeting was hosted by board members Andrea Moeller, Vincent Massey (a.k.a. Binty), Stan Matwychuk, Christina Nick and Vogler.
“We’re here to get people’s ideas and knit those into a really great proposal. We want to do it in two steps: a short-term, and a long-term purpose — that fully fleshes out what this could become and how it could be economically viable,” said Vogler.
The group hopes to have the proposal ready to give to the municipality in February 2011.
Ideas for the centre include work areas, exhibits, events and performances, live-work studios for rent, art courses, festivals, associations with galleries in town and an eatery to buy food and drinks.
The society sees the area as an inclusive community space, inspired by venues such as Granville Island in Vancouver.
The Whistler Sailing Association already uses the hostel grounds and The Point is happy to share.
“There are some other groups and we are very open to working together,” said Vogler.
Many of the artists spoke of how naturally the space lends itself to the proposal.
“I teach all over B.C., and that place is perfect,” said Massey, who is a stoneware potter.
“Right now I feel that there’s not a place to work here,” added Nick, painter and sculptor. “I feel that culture in Whistler has been just a fleeting thing and this would make it more concrete.”
Matwychuk, an artist and creative consultant, feels that supporting The Point’s proposal would be good for Whistler as a whole.
“It would definitely add to the cultural tourism model Whistler wants,” he said.
Vogler agrees that cultural tourism can help Whistler financially, generating interest from different types of visitors. “I do see this as part of spurring the economy; it’s long-term though — and the right time is now.”
The old hostel was boarded up when the new hostel opened this July in Cheakamus Crossing. It is one of the oldest buildings in Whistler and a historical reminder of when the area became a cottage community earlier last century.
The hostel has space to sleep 24 and includes six cabins and a storage garage. The Point is discussing using the cabins as studios, and converting the garage into a unique working space.
“There’s artist-run centres all across Canada and the world — this is exciting to try to create it from the ground up,” said Vogler.