A watershed moment for local arts

North Delta gallery paints a picture of artists’ resilience

What do artists with a collective sense of identity do when their funding disappears?

They band together and get creative.

Watershed Artworks Society’s gallery and gift shop in North Delta gives visitors an idea of the talent and enthusiasm in the local arts community.

With a fresh – and eye-catching – paint job on its exterior and a refurbished interior, 500 square feet of space is filled with paintings, sculptures, jewelry, decorative objects (including wood), photography and textiles.

Watershed Arts Society came into being earlier this year after the Delta Arts Council (DAC) gave up control of their gallery shop to the Corporation of Delta following major provincial funding cuts announced two years ago.

At the same time, Delta took over the nearby Firehall Centre for the Arts, as well as the Tsawwassen Arts Centre – although the DAC was given an extra year in the buildings to sort things out.

In March, several members of the DAC decided to keep the gallery shop open themselves.

“We want to bring art back to the community. I think it’s been sadly neglected,” says Watershed president Bev Mason. “If a group like ours gets together, it becomes a lifeline of artists in the community.”

“The arts council was in a lot of flux and they had a lot of issues between them and the Corporation (of Delta) to sort and we felt like we didn’t want to be possibly missed out in all the decision-making,” says Kathy Lane, a Watershed director. “If we wanted to maintain a shop, we’d have to be proactive and maintain it ourselves.”

Watershed, a non-profit society, is a separate entity from the DAC, but its artists are still members of the arts council.

“Our mission is to provide a space for local artists to display and sell their work,” says Watershed vice-president June Bergen-Holt.

While the DAC continues to organize theatre and musical events at the firehall and Tsawwassen Arts Centre, it lets Watershed run the day-to-day operations of the gallery.

“We stay open based on volunteer hours,” explains Lane.

Several artists share duties running the shop; those putting in more hours pay less commission to Watershed when their pieces sell.

The challenge for Watershed is to make itself known to the public as well as the arts community.

“We have to be really creative about how we reach out to the public when we don’t have money to spend on advertising,” says Lane.

To increase the society’s visibility, Watershed members mingled with the crowds at June’s North Delta Family Days, directing visitors to the Social Heart Plaza area and the gallery shop, and co-sponsored a wine-and-beer event at the Tour de Delta bike race in July.

On Sept. 11, they held their grand opening show and sale, called A Whole Lot of Art, in front of the building Watershed shares with the North Delta Potters Guild and Reach Child and Youth Development Society.

Things are fairly quiet at the gallery, for now.

“It’s a tough location because we don’t have a lot of walk-by traffic,” says Bergen-Holt. “You literally have to decide you’re coming here.”

That may change in the future, as Watershed’s building will be replaced with space in an expanded North Delta Recreation Centre.

Delta council endorsed a design concept for a 25,000-sq.-ft. expansion of the rec centre at their Sept. 19 meeting.

Ken Kuntz, director of Delta’s Parks, Recreation and Culture, says Watershed’s building will be decommissioned due to its age during a restructuring of the entire Social Heart Plaza area.

The potters guild will move to a section of the Firehall Centre for the Arts (designated as a performance theatre), while Watershed and Reach are incorporated into the planned footprint of the new centre.

Further financial and design decisions – with some public input – will take place at Delta council in 2012, says Kuntz.


The Watershed Artworks Society will hold their artists’ Christmas market, the “Deck the Halls” creative gift sale on Dec. 4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the North Delta Recreation Centre, 11415 84 Ave.

The public is also invited to meet artist Marilyn Lyon on Dec. 10 from 1-3 p.m. at the Watershed Artworks Gallery Shop. Refreshments will be served. Lyon’s “Just Breathe” collection of paintings and photographs will be on display in the gallery shop throughout the month of December.


For more information, call 604-596-1029 or search Watershed Artworks on Facebook.

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey bus driver tests positive for COVID-19

Routes he drove have not been disclosed

Surrey mayor denies property tax deferral motion

Councillor’s notice of motion for Surrey property taxes to be deferred until Dec. 2 out of order

Team refunds OK’d for cancelled Surrey Mayor’s Cup soccer tournament

The decision follows the amalgamation of the Central City Breakers club with Surrey Football Club

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

Logan Boulet Effect: Green Shirt Day calls on Canadians to become organ donors

While social distancing, the day also honours the 16 lives lost in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos Crash

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

B.C. wide burning restrictions come into effect April 16

‘Larger open burns pose an unnecessary risk and could detract from wildfire detection’

B.C. secures motel, hotel rooms for COVID-19 shelter space

Community centres, rooms reserved for pandemic self-isolation

Most Read