Students and community members take in the works on offer at Seaquam Secondary’s first annual Community Art Gala on Tuesday, June 12, 2018. (James Smith photo)

PHOTOS: North Delta’s Seaquam Secondary hosts first annual community art gala

Works by students in grades 8 through 12 auctioned off to benefit arts programming at the school

Seaquam Secondary was awash in talent this week as the school hosted its first annual Community Art Gala.

The event, organized by Seaquam student council and held the evening of June 12, showcased the diverse artistic skills and interests of the school’s student body, including performances by singers, dancers, actors and musicians.

(Scroll to the bottom of the story to watch a slideshow of the gala)

“The main reason we are holding hit event is to just kind of promote the arts and culture in our school, but not only in our school but in our community,” said 17-year-old Grade 12 student Manvi Ansal, one of the event’s organizers. “We don’t think there’s much recognition in the community of the arts and we just wanted a night to kind of reward everybody for their talents.”

(from left) Seaquam Secondary seniors Manvi Ansal (17), Victoria Williams (17) and Chirag Chopra (16) organized the school's first annual Community Art Gala on Tuesday, June 12, 2018.
(from left) Seaquam Secondary seniors Manvi Ansal (17), Victoria Williams (17) and Chirag Chopra (16) organized the school’s first annual Community Art Gala on Tuesday, June 12, 2018.

James Smith photo

Seaquam has held events that highlight its resident artists in the past, namely the school’s Arts and Skills Night, however the gala is different in that it is bigger, solely focused on the arts and open to the entire community to attend.

“The Arts and Skills Night was usually an ‘only Seaquam’ event, so [only] parents would come in,” said 16-year-old Grade 12 student and event organizer Chirag Chopra. “We wanted to open it up to the rest of the community.

“As well, one more thing with the Arts and Skills Night was that it was very focused on … this class has created this project. I think with this we’ve melded together all the mediums and all the art forms into one night to make it easier for everybody to experience and to have kind of a synergic flow of all the mediums melding into each other.”

The gala featured dozens of paintings, drawings and sketches by youth in grades 8 through 12, many available for purchase via silent auction. Proceeds from the auction designated to fund more arts programming in the school and to purchase a display case to house works by both students and the community at large.

“We’re going to create more spaces for those [student] art pieces, so that we‘d be able to beautify the school that way and showcase their art and talents,” said 17-year-old Grade 12 student and event organizer Victoria Williams.

“Student council … has already bought a few pieces of art from local artists in the community and we just wanted that place to be able to display it,” Chopra added. “[We want] that local connection for our school and for whatever events happen here, we want it to kind of be a landmark for people to be able to experience.”

Ladner artist Natalie Way, who provided many of the easels used at the gala and had three of her own paintings on display, said she was impressed by both the scale of the event and the quality of the students’ work.

Ladner artist Natalie Way provided easels for the show and took the stage to offer the burgeoning artists in the room some words of wisdom.
Ladner artist Natalie Way provided easels for the show and took the stage to offer the burgeoning artists in the room some words of wisdom.

James Smith photo

“I think this is incredible. I can’t believe that the student council put on a big event like this,” Way said. “And the level of art is incredible, the level of performers nowadays in high school, I’m just blown away.

“I think of in high school, how we were, and I look at what they are [doing] today, and I think the level is much higher. It’s really exciting to see that they put the emphasis and show that the arts is an important part of society too.”

Drawing attention to the integral role that art plays in the community is why Ansal, Williams and Chopra felt it was important to give artists a night all their own and to invite the public to take part.

“The reason why we made this such a big event is because we want people to experience the arts. Because you have to go down to the Vancouver Art Gallery to absorb the art, but here you’re able to come somewhere near and still embrace this art,” Williams said.

“One of the coolest things that happened today was that a student who takes an arts program here came and said, ‘Oh thank you for organizing this, the school hasn’t forgotten about us, we still exist,” Chopra said. “I feel like that stigma about the arts programs being pushed off to the side really does exist in our school and in our district and in our society in general.

“So the people we advertised to for this event were people who haven’t been to art shows previously, haven’t experienced the arts already. And so getting them to come out and experience art firsthand … by people that they might know, in a kind of community-style friendly environment, is a great way for them to experience art for the first time.”

“We just hope that this event kind of opens everybody’s eyes to how important the arts actually are in the community,” Ansal said. “This is a really good opportunity for people to actually realize how talented the students are, and that art is actually a really crucial, important part of our lives, because we seem to under appreciate it a lot.”

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