Mattias Boon, founder and director of StreetRich Hip Hop Society, speaks to crowd Tuesday at Whalley’s new arts hub, at 10660 City Parkway, with Ellie King of Royal Canadian Theatre Company to his right. (photo: Tom Zillich)

Hip-hop, theatre groups move into former auto shop in Whalley, under City Parkway Studio banner

Dance lessons, theatre workshops to be held at 10660 City Parkway, across from Lions practice field

SURREY — A former auto garage in Whalley is motoring forward with a mix of theatre, dance and music for kids, teens and young adults.

An opening celebration was held Tuesday (June 20) at Surrey’s newest arts hub, a youth-focused space at 10660 City Parkway, across the street from both the B.C. Lions’ training facility and Chuck Bailey rec centre.

The Now-Leader has learned the site, to be operated by Royal Canadian Theatre Company and StreetRich Hip Hop Society in partnership with the City of Surrey, will be known as City Parkway Studio, subject to city council approval.

“I’m excited to see what this unique partnership will foster in the coming years,” Councillor JudyVilleneuve told invited guests at the studio, which measures 2,500 square feet.

Freestyle dancers with the Burnaby-based StreetRich entertained the crowd, as did actors/singers with Royal Canadian.

Mattias Boon, founder and director of StreetRich, said the organization is excited to begin working in Surrey.

“The City of Surrey, I really want to thank you because there are not many cities in the world that really want to invest in hip-hop culture, because every day we fight stereotypes, yeah,” he said. “And if you really want to learn what hip-hop culture is, the values are peace, love, unity and having fun – that’s what we embrace, that’s what we want to bring out to the world. Also, hip-hop doesn’t discriminate, it’s for every religion, it’s for every colour, and that’s why hip-hop culture is important.”

StreetRich (streetrich.ca, 604-441-8205) will host a community barbecue and fundraising at the studio on July 16, and will hold “Summer Super Camps” there from Aug. 14 to 18. Also, drop-in breakdance sessions will happen on Wednesday evenings from 7 to 10 p.m., for a $3 fee.

“Please, come engage with us, and I can’t wait to meet you all and really get started here, alongside Royal Canadian Theatre Company and the City of Surrey – yeah, a bright future, like the sun,” said Boon, who moved here from his native Belgium in 2011.

Under the direction of Julian Legere, a youth-focused theatre academy will be launched by Royal Canadian (rctheatreco.com, 604-629-8744).

”We want it to be for everyone who’s interested, not just for kids who have experience and skills already,” Legere said.

“We’re looking at running in the fall, sort of in with our panto rehearsals from September through December,” he added. “We’ll do workshops, probably weekly with the youth, whoever joins, and then in the spring we’ll work to create a show based on stories they want to tell, whether they’re real or made up. They’re going to write the script and then perform that show in the spring.”

Next month, the company will stage Teen Summer Camp Acting Classes, starting on July 17. “Build Your Own Play!” says an event advisory at rctheatreco.com. “You write, design and act in your own play. Speak your own words as characters you create.” The fee to attend is $150.

Royal Canadian’s plays next season, starting this coming October, are The Hound of the Baskervilles, the Christmastime panto Sinbad, the Pirates and the Island of the Dinosaur and, next spring, the Ray Cooney comedy Funny Money.

tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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