Surrey-based musician Richard Tichelman sings a cover of Starship’s hit song “We Built This City” during an online broadcast of Surrey Arts & Business Awards on Tuesday, Oct. 12. (YouTube photo)

Surrey-based musician Richard Tichelman sings a cover of Starship’s hit song “We Built This City” during an online broadcast of Surrey Arts & Business Awards on Tuesday, Oct. 12. (YouTube photo)

‘We Built This City’: A new project pushes Surrey as ‘Canada’s up-and-coming Music City’

Two separate Surrey Music directories are part of the city’s new Surrey Music Strategy

A new “Surrey Music Strategy” aims to create a thriving local music economy in the city and support artist development.

The launch involves a “Music in Surrey” webpage ( where musicians, music-related businesses and not-for-profits can register for two new Surrey Music directories, which will launch in early 2022. Musicians who register for the directory can enter for a chance to win a $250 Long & McQuade gift card.

The Surrey Musician Directory is separate from a Surrey Music Business Directory.

Surrey is home to a diverse number of musicians and music businesses, the website notes, including booking agencies, instrument stores, live music production support, publicists, music schools, event producers and recording studios.

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“Surrey is Canada’s up-and-coming Music City,” the website proclaims.

“As one of the fastest growing metropolitan centres in the region, Surrey has a diverse community of musicians, music businesses, industry workers and fans. A Surrey Music Strategy is being created to provide recommendations on how best to further develop a thriving music economy within all Surrey town centres.”

Project funding of up to $60,000 will come from Music BC, with support from Creative BC and the provincial government.

Three years ago, in 2018, Surrey Board of Trade created a Surrey Music City Centre Office to help raise the profile of live music in the city, in partnership with Sami Ghawi’s FUSIONpresents company.

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(Story continues below video)

On Tuesday (Oct. 12), the board’s 2021 Surrey Arts & Business Awards online broadcast featured a video of local musician Richard Tichelman singing a cover “We Built This City,” Starship’s hit song from the 1980s. The video is posted to Tichelman’s YouTube channel.

“Surrey BC – A Music City!” Tichelman raves in his description of the video, filmed at sites around Surrey.

“This cover video was created for the Surrey Board of Trade (SBOT), for the 2021 Surrey Arts and Business Awards. I was honored to win this award in 2019 for my Music business and am honoured once again for being asked to represent Surrey by creating this cover.”

Surrey Music Strategy is “a good move,” according to Anita Huberman, president and CEO of Surrey Board of Trade.

“As we saw the movement of music artists and related businesses from Vancouver to Surrey and the South Fraser economic region due to gentrification, and as Surrey is going to be the largest city in B.C., the Surrey Board of Trade has been asking the City of Surrey to develop its own music strategy since 2018,” Huberman noted in a news release.

“We did ask the then-named City of Surrey Cultural Advisory Committee in 2019 if the Surrey Board of Trade’s Music City Centre could lead the creation of a music city strategy, but no response – and over the Summer of 2021 we heard that the City of Surrey will be leading the research on their own. Still, we are pleased about this, and hope the Surrey Board of Trade’s Music City Centre and our portfolio of ideas, work and action will be considered.”

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For the Surrey Music Strategy, city hall will work with a consultant to implement “three phases of growth,” starting with research and discovery, followed by community engagement and then strategy development and recommendations.

“As part of community engagement, and to ensure the creation of a sustainable and resilient music economy, the City will seek feedback from local music industry experts and key stakeholders, including musicians and business owners,” explains a news release from city hall on Thursday (Oct. 14).

Surrey is “a robust contributor” to B.C.’s “wealth of creative music talent and infrastructure,” according to Bob D’Eith, Parliamentary Secretary for Film and Music.

“The Surrey Music Strategy strengthens the local music community and creates opportunity to share such diverse talent with all British Columbians,” stated D’Eith, MLA in Maple Ridge-Mission and a musician whose bands have included Rymes with Orange and Mythos, dating back to the early 1990s.

Mayor Doug McCallum said the Surrey Music Strategy is being developed “to create new opportunities and resources that support our local artists and venues. The talented musicians and performers we have in Surrey should be given every opportunity to shine, and that is what we are aiming to achieve with the Surrey Music Strategy.”

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