A Lo­cal’s Per­spec­tive


The can-do at­ti­tude that helped make Whistler one of the world’s most ex­cit­ing and suc­cess­ful year-round re­sorts also drives Mau­reen Dou­glas, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Arts Whistler. “Mo,” as she’s af­fec­tion­ately called, is per­haps best known for her role as the Sea to Sky Cor­ri­dor spokesper­son for the Van­cou­ver 2010 Olympic and Par­a­lympic Or­ga­niz­ing Com­mit­tee. Dur­ing Sochi 2014, she was part of a Van­cou­ver del­e­ga­tion that vis­ited Rus­sia and con­vinced the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee (IOC), later that year, to add an an­tidis­crim­i­na­tion clause to all fu­ture Games hostc­ity con­tracts, which in­cludes a com­mit­ment to re­spect the rights of les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der peo­ple.

Why did you de­cide to make the Sea to Sky Cor­ri­dor home?

I was work­ing for the Van­cou­ver Play­house back in ’86 and got in­jured, need­ing three rounds of surgery for a bro­ken tib-fib. A lot of my friends went to work for Expo ’86 while I had to re­hab. I watched Expo ex­plode into a ma­jor cel­e­bra­tion of the arts and felt it had to con­tinue; so my friend and I cre­ated an or­ga­ni­za­tion called the Street Ac­cess So­ci­ety to show­case street per­form­ers in the city. In early 1987, the Whistler Re­sort As­so­ci­a­tion asked if we could start pro­gram­ming street en­ter­tain­ment in the Vil­lage; we started Cor­nu­copia and the First Night cel­e­bra­tion. It’s great to see that so much of what we cre­ated still ex­ists. I’ve al­ways been a big ad­vo­cate for the arts and cul­ture, so com­ing back (to Arts Whistler) is kind of like I’ve come full cir­cle.

What do you see as the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s key chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties?

It’s like tak­ing on that first black-di­a­mond run. It’s an ad­ven­ture, and we (Whistler) take cal­cu­lated risks, push­ing the en­ve­lope higher and higher. We em­brace the arts and have a man­date to help artists and their au­di­ences em­brace what’s pos­si­ble.

How do you feel about your con­tri­bu­tion to the suc­cess of the 2010 Olympics and Par­a­lympics? And your ef­forts to pro­mote in­clu­sion of an­tidis­crim­i­na­tion in the Olympic char­ter?

Any­one who worked on our Games can look back with in­cred­i­ble pride that we not only de­liv­ered great Games but also show­cased Cana­dian val­ues. We had to deal with some chal­leng­ing cir­cum­stances, but I am in­cred­i­bly proud to have been part of de­liv­er­ing a great ex­pe­ri­ence. (At Sochi) I had the op­por­tu­nity to go and fight for what I felt was right. It wasn’t about chang­ing Rus­sia. It was about chang­ing the IOC. That was prob­a­bly one of the most in­cred­i­ble meet­ings of my life. We had tre­men­dous sup­port from Canada for that, and that was in­spir­ing.

What is your favourite thing about Whistler?

For me that’s easy — it’s the in­cred­i­ble can-do at­ti­tude. It’s that, “Hey, I have an idea!” men­tal­ity. Peo­ple are like that here — in ev­ery sec­tor — and it just helps us get things done and cre­ate suc­cess at ev­ery level.

What is your favourite Whistler hang­out?

Three places: Maury Young Arts Cen­tre, where there’s al­ways some­thing hap­pen­ing; Whistler Olympic Plaza, a legacy of the Games that has that in­cred­i­ble stage and spec­tac­u­lar back­drop; and KR’s (friend Kris­ten Robin­son) back­yard along Alta Lake, which is just an amaz­ing place to visit and en­joy Whistler.

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