VIEWPOINT: It’s Showtime!

by Amir Ali Alibhai,
Executive Director, Alliance for Arts and Culture

 The Cultural Olympiad, which began in 2008, culminates over the next few weeks, showcasing the work of an almost overwhelming number of artists from around the world. As a significant aspect of the 2010 Winter Games, the program of public art, exhibitions, installations, live performances and cultural programming is rich, diverse and deep. 
 
Congratulations to the organizers for presenting a balanced lineup that features the work of many of our own world-class arts and cultural institutions, organizations and artists. For an international event of this nature, there has been considerable effort made to include the exemplary work of local companies and artists.  

This incredible program of activity has been made possible by a very modest investment by different levels of government (mostly civic and federal), the private sector and VANOC. Credit for the depth of programming and the high quality of the offerings goes to our own community of creative administrators, curators, artistic directors, writers, musicians, dancers, media artists, visual artists, heritage and cultural workers. 
 
They stepped up to the plate and it looks like they will deliver in spades. I can’t wait!
 
A question I’ve been asked a lot lately is what the impact of the Winter Games and the Olympiad will be. Only time will tell. I am aware that for as many who have been given opportunities to participate in the Olympiad, there is a majority who have not directly benefited.   We are a community used to competition regarding artistic excellence. We can live with that. 
There are some who naturally point to the obscene cost over-runs associated with the Games, all while arts funding is gutted in our province. It is a bit ironic that as we invite the world to a great show, we face uncertainty about the future and lack of commitment from our provincial government regarding support for the arts. 
 
Well, at least for 60 days, Vancouver and BC will appear wearing her best jewelry; there may well be visits to the pawn shop soon after!
 
Our hopes for the Olympiad remain, nonetheless, high. Canadian and British Columbian artists have the opportunity to shine and reach a wide and international audience. I believe the world will be impressed. Our own citizens will have the opportunity to enjoy some of the best work by those artists. We hope that this engagement will result in a renewed recognition of the importance of the arts to our communities’ economies, health, education and quality of life.  
I hope that we feel pride in the achievements of our artists. I hope citizens will be blown away and motivated to letting our elected employees in Victoria (and elsewhere) know that Creativity Counts. 
 
The richness of the Olympiad reflects the diversity of talent that exists in our province and demonstrates what just a little investment can result in. The steadily increasing support that the provincial government has provided, until last year, made a tremendous impact. I hope that the cultural showcase which is part of the Games convinces them that investing in our arts and culture is economically prudent, wise and politically strategic.
 
It’s Showtime!

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