The Surrey Board of Trade has released a recommendation paper that urges the City of Surrey to create a “more robust, aggressive and focused” arts and culture strategy to “bring positive change in communities.”
The report, released Tuesday, notes that Surrey’s inventory of significant arts facilities “compares poorly to other Canadian cities, many of which have lower populations than Surrey.”
According to the report, Surrey’s performing arts seat inventory was significantly lower than any of the bench-marked cities – and less than half the inventory of Vancouver or Seattle.
The report argues Surrey needs “to make significant strides, leveraged by City capital investment, other levels of government, and private sector funding, in building new cultural infrastructure.”
“We are building a city of great cultural spaces, but there is still so much more work to do,” said Anita Huberman, CEO of SBOT, in a release. “The creation of new arts and culture infrastructure continues to lag behind population growth. For the next 10 years, it is vitally important that we focus on activating arts and culture infrastructure in all areas of Surrey.”
The paper’s release comes as Surrey council is amid budget deliberations. Last year, several civic amenity projects were “postponed” in the city’s controversial budget that passed in a split 5-4 vote. Delayed projects included an ice arena in Cloverdale, as well as the acquisition of land for a performing arts centre in City Centre.
That delayed arts facility is among the amenities the SBOT argues the city needs.
“We need Anchor Spaces such as a Music Centre; Incubator Spaces; Major Community Arts Centres such as a Performing Arts Centre, Galleries, Art Incubator, and Film Centre; and Small Community Arts Centres such as a Performing Arts Youth Centre, and other community spaces,” the SBOT’s recommendation states. “These new spaces can have a positive effect on the lives of artists and the cultural life of Surrey residents and workers.”
SBOT also calls for infrastructure that reflects demographic changes and population growth, with an eye to focus on underserved areas in the city, and wants to see the protection of current amenities.
Tourism is another focus of the SBOT report, which calls for continued investment in the creation of new tourism infrastructure.
SBOT’s recommendation paper explores the following other areas: Surrey as an arts capital; Surrey as a destination; marketing/branding to businesses/residents; supporting local artists; and Surrey’s musical city potential.
“To ensure Surrey continues to be an opportunity city, an economic development focus on tourism, arts and culture, with a commitment to building or working on needed assets in collaboration with the private sector, is essential to supporting and attracting business and ensuring a sustainable workforce,” said Huberman.
Read the full report at businessinsurrey.com.
The Now-Leader has contacted the Mayor’s Office for comment.