MELANIE MINTY: Let’s drum up some support for the arts in Surrey

Minister Fassbender, we are looking to you to help our community arts now

Billy Knutson will bring his Rhythm Wellness drum workshop to Surrey Arts Centre in September.

SURREY — We have to adjust to climate changes – weather and political. Learn to use less water, even when it’s raining, and keep informed of who is doing what in the political scene. So take shorter showers.

Premier Christy Clark made a surprise cabinet shuffle. Surrey-Fleetwood MLA Peter Fassbender takes over from Coralee Oakes as B.C.’s Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development. That appointment may have escaped your notice, as we were all evaluating Fassbender’s appointment as Minister Responsible for Translink.

I guess that is fair. After all, we can all see the value of transit in our community. Building a better community through arts and culture is more of a challenge to get attention. And we all know what transit means. And we know what sport is. But what is covered under Cultural Development? We need to know, and Fassbender – the cultural organizations in our communities are now relying on you to help with their survival.

Oh, not just Peter either, folks. Cultural development has to be grassroots as well. Parents need to advocate for solid arts programs in schools, get funding for these programs and encourage kids to participate in cultural events as much as they are encouraged to participate in sports. Both are important in building healthy, vibrant communities. But it seems that sports gets more attention and funding. Gotta admit, it is easier to encourage a child to be a sports hero, where there is potential for a multi-million dollar income, rather than looking at an iffy income as a performing artist.

So there it is. Rich sports star or starving artist. Somewhere we are missing the main point. The object is to build better people who contribute to making a better community. Through involvement with community theatre, arts clubs, dance lessons, youth orchestras, choirs, bands and theatre programs, we are giving our kids the opportunity to be creative, learn a skill good for life, interact with others, gain confidence and be valued for whatever talent they may have. Encourage, not discourage. Take kids to live theatre, drive them to dance lessons, let them know that loving to sing or draw is more than OK.

Our politicians may not admit that we are in an economic recession. Times are tough, and have been for a while now. Our community theatre clubs are looking at eroding income from ticket sales. Digital toys occupy the younger generations. It is so easy. Nintendo does not make Surrey a great place to live. Getting families involved in the arts is a positive step in creating good communities. Just sayin’.

OK, there is the challenge. Get involved. How about starting with the SAGA Thursday Artist Talk with Billy Knutson on Sept. 10 at 7:30 p.m? I hear all you soccer parents out there moaning. Artist talk? Are you crazy? Well, maybe – the jury is still out on that one. But here is a crazy idea from Knutson.

A drummer, he believes music has a way of breaking down barriers. This artist talk, an evening event, will discuss “rhythm wellness.” This form of recreational music making removes the challenging learning curve by using accessible percussion instruments, creating a fulfilling experience for everyone.

“Rhythm is as ubiquitous as gravity, acting on us for good or bad, regardless of our awareness of it,” Knuston says. After an evening with Knuston, you will become more aware of it and learn how rhythm and music helps us relate, listen and build community.

Get that? Build community. You go, Billy.

Knutson started in the health and fitness industry 28 years ago and in 1998 founded Functional Fysical Fitness Inc., a Total Wellness Company. He combines a wide variety of studies and experience aimed at the integration of the whole person and community. Knutson discovered the power of group rhythm and drumming in 2005 and, since that time, has immersed himself in a variety of musical and drumming studies, for individuals and groups. Visit his website,

You know, I was just thinking that Knutson could use a few tap dancers to go along with the drums. Well, why not? I know a whole community of tap dancers making a better community. It’s our own brand of rhythm wellness. And now Billy. The possibilities are as endless as they are creative.

Minister Fassbender, we are looking to you to help our community arts now. Get those grants out so we can rebuild and survive right now. As we build our better community with more interest and public support, we won’t need the grants. Everybody wins. We got the rhythm going now.


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