Surrey Arts Centre is losing a familiar face and voice.
After nearly a quarter-century of work there, in one job or another, Lyn Lay is calling it a career.
She’s retiring from the city’s arts services department, 23 years after finding work as a front-of-house usher at the Bear Creek Park facility.
Since then, Lay has performed a number of jobs including performance co-ordinator for the Millennium Children’s Festival (May 2000), work on the arts centre’s grand-reopening committee (2002), facility rentals co-ordinator (from 2000 to 2008), leader of Wandering Angels Lantern Festival workshops (2008), hospitality co-ordinator for Surrey International Children’s Festival (2009-2016) and volunteer co-ordinator for the arts centre’s calendar mailout (2009-2013). She’s also instructed art classes there since 2008.
“I was finding that I needed my days to be more flexible time-wise, and there are so many opportunities out there in the arts community,” Lay told the Now-Leader. “Once I had that in mind, I discussed it with my husband, Steve, and everything soon fell into place.
“I’ll still be working in the non-profit sector with the Youth Arts Council (Arts Council of Surrey), plus you might see me working in turn of the century clothing in the near future at the Historic Stewart Farm.”
Do you like dancing to a live band? Join us at our Spring Fling Swing Ceilidh on Saturday, March 7 at 7:30 in the Rose Room at Valley View. Bring your best dance shoes because we’ll have lots of great tunes for you!… https://t.co/eIRiySGfOG
— Lyn Verra-Lay (@lyn_verra_lay) February 21, 2020
Lyn’s last day of work is Feb. 28, and co-workers will help her celebrate her retirement during a couple of private events – one at the arts centre and another at Central City Brew Pub.
Lay started work with the City of Surrey in 1997, but had a deep association with various culture/arts organizations in the city prior to that, Kent Gallie, Performing Arts Manager, noted in an email inviting co-workers to celebrate Lay’s retirement.
“We will miss Lyn’s friendly welcomes and cheerful demeanor at the Surrey Arts Centre front desk and wish her all the best in her future endeavours – some likely arts related,” Gallie wrote.
At work, she’s known as Lyn Lay, but as artist/performer she prefers Lyn Verra-Lay, “because I was an artist before I got married. Using Verra is an homage to my parents who taught me art and performance,” she explained.
Lay, inspired by her musician dad and craft-savvy mom, has enjoyed being involved in Surrey’s performing and visual arts community for more than 40 years, as a musician, singer, community theatre production manager, actor, dancer and mixed-media and fabric artist.
In 2017, Lay led a project to celebrate the arts centre’s 50th anniversary, in her role as one of seven Culture Days ambassadors in B.C.
“I’ve been hanging out in that area (of Surrey Arts Centre) since I was 14,” Lay said at the time. “I used to go there and scrape clay out of the creek and make things, and now I teach clay classes to kids at the arts centre, so it’s kind of a big full-circle thing for me.”