For Immediate Release
March 5, 2019

Announcing the Chili Thom Scholarship Fund

WHISTLER, BC – Heather Paul, Chair of Arts Whistler Board of Directors, and Carol Coffey, Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Whistler, announce today the official formation of the Chili Thom Scholarship Fund.

The Chili Thom Scholarship Fund will provide bursaries primarily to graduating public high school students in the Sea to Sky Community who are pursuing the brave, expressive and divine calling of being a professional artist.

Chili Thom was a community volunteer and a strong advocate for the arts and culture community. He made a connection between sport, nature and fine art and captured the spirit of the Sea to Sky with his dreamy imagery and wild at heart perspective. After a courageous and spirited fight, Chili, 40, lost his battle with cancer on November 30, 2016.

The Chili Thom Scholarship Fund was created after a month-long Whistler community celebration of the artist, held in June of 2017. Arts Whistler Presents: The Chili Thom Experience lit up five of Whistler’s cultural buildings with Chili’s art and soul: Audain Art Museum, Maury Young Arts Centre, Whistler Museum, Whistler Public Library and the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre.

Scholarship recipients will be selected based on a short list of criteria, including a small sample of their work, and the answer to a question inspired by the spirit of Chili Thom himself: “Briefly describe how the art you make in the future will have the potential to inspire a community and sustain our environment”. In recognition of Chili being a mostly self-taught artist and man without limits, enrollment into post-secondary education will not be a requirement for the Chili Thom Scholarship.

“Chili was instrumental in the development of arts and culture in Whistler,” says Heather Paul, Chair of the Arts Whistler board. “He was a brilliant painter and an unwavering advocate for our community’s artists. But even more importantly, Chili was someone who encouraged others to be all they could be. It is an honour to see this legacy begin, and humbling to know that the unbounded generosity of the citizens and businesses of Whistler has guaranteed that Chili Thom’s name will still be called out loud long after our own lifetimes are over.”

Arts Whistler and the project team of volunteers who produced The Chili Thom Experience recognizes and thanks those patrons and businesses who were instrumental in making this scholarship happen, including the founding donors of The Chili Thom Experience: Sushi Village, The Whistler Grocery Store, Gibbons Whistler, Houssian Family Foundation, World Ski and Snowboard Festival, and Whistler Blackcomb Foundation.

The qualifying students must identify as an artist with the eventual goal to be a professional artist in one or more of the following fields: fine art, theatre, film-making, creative writing, digital media or music. The first scholarships will be given to the graduating classes of 2019.

The bulk of the Chili Thom Scholarship Fund is created with funds raised at the Arts Whistler Presents: Chili Thom Experience. A total of $45,200 was raised. The Foundation hopes to reach $60,000 in order to provide four scholarships per year. The funds are invested by the Community Foundation of Whistler and the income generated supports annual scholarships in perpetuity.

“The Community Foundation of Whistler is honoured to manage the Chili Thom Scholarship Fund. Chili represented so much of what this community holds dear; a love of combining the experience of nature and adventure with art and friendship. The scholarships will help to nurture and celebrate those core values in our community.”

Applicants can find more information about applying for the Chili Thom Scholarship on the Community Foundation of Whistler website:

Applications are now being accepted, and must be submitted by April 15, 2019.

Community members are invited to make donations at any time to the Chili Thom Scholarship Fund at the Community Foundation of Whistler. Contact or visit

Pictured Above:
Arts Whistler board chair, Heather Paul (left) and Community Foundation of Whistler board chair, Sue Lawther (right), celebrate the launch of the Chili Thom Scholarship Fund, while holding a Resort Municipality of Whistler-owned original Chili Thom painting. The painting, entitled “A View Without A Room,” will soon hang permanently in the Maury Young Arts Centre for the community and visitors to enjoy.



Media Contacts:

Community Foundation of Whistler
Carol Coffey, Executive Director

Arts Whistler
Laura Walker, Communications Specialist

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