Lyn Verra-Lay, seen here outside Surrey Arts Centre, is the adult mentor for the Youth Arts Council of Surrey (YACOS), which will host an Artist Garage Sale at Newton Cultural Centre on Saturday, Jan. 13. (File photo: Tom Zillich)

MINTY: Artist Garage Sale to raise funds for Youth Arts Council of Surrey

Also, the group’s Write On! one-act play competition is on again for 2018, with Feb. 24 deadline

By Melanie Minty, arts columnist

When a story is written, there should be a beginning, a middle, and an end. Ah. I knew there was a challenge. What is the beginning? Sometimes you just have to jump in and start somewhere, because if you don’t at least start, you will never cross the finish line. So here is the “start” for 2018: The Arts Council of Surrey.

The arts council is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Wow, 50 years. When I first became aware of the arts council, the “office” was in a tiny nook and a desk inside Surrey Arts Centre. And no, before you ask, that was not 50 years ago. But it is my beginning.

Like Surrey itself, the arts council has grown out of its nook, and is a tremendous asset to the City of Surrey. Offices are now at Newton Cultural Centre, and the arts council – largely with volunteer power – runs the 72nd Avenue facility, the business end of the arts council itself and also helps co-ordinate and promote the arts strategy for member groups and individuals.

Business members of the arts council number more than 100, and include Blue Frog Studios, Guildford Town Centre, Surrey Now-Leader, Surrey Libraries, Newton BIA and Surrey Board of Trade. Member groups number about another hundred and include an alphabetical collection from ArtsWest to Young People’s Opera Society of BC.

Impressive. Betcha somewhere you are connected to the Arts Council of Surrey by association with one of the member businesses or groups. May the arts be with you in 2018. You don’t have to travel to a galaxy – or city – far, far, away to find your beginning. It’s right here. Follow the arts council on twitter (@SurreyArts), Facebook (@ArtsCouncilofSurrey) or on the organization’s website,

One division of the arts council is the Youth Arts Council of Surrey, with the alphabet acronym YACOS. This council is lead by youth, aged 13 to 21. It creates opportunities for young people in the arts, through events like talent shows, playwriting competitions, film festivals and fashion shows.

The annual Write On! one-act play competition, hosted by YACOS, is on again for 2018. Cash awards are distributed, and hey, it is a beginning point for your story. Email for an application form. The deadline for submissions is Feb. 24. Note, entry is limited to youth aged 13 to 21 who live or attend school in Surrey.

Need more help getting started? No worries. YACOS is presenting its second annual Write On! Writer’s Workshop on Jan. 27 from noon to 6 p.m. at Newton Cultural Centre. Its free to attend, with lunch and snacks provided. Space is limited; to register, email The panel of presenters includes Ellie King and Barbara Warwick, both of whom have written plays and pantos. Hannah Christensen, a youth member of the panel, wrote “Sock Wars” when she was 11 years old. Oh yes, I am also on the panel, and it is OK to say I recommended the workshop when you register.

Running programs and workshops has a cost attached. You know, there really isn’t a free lunch. Lyn Verra-Lay, YACOS adult mentor, is pleased to announce “the first-ever fundraiser” for YACOS. It’s called the Artist Garage Sale, which will have YACOS members selling donated items from artists and various arts groups. Short notice, the sale is this Saturday, Jan. 13 from noon to 3 p.m. at Newton Cultural Centre.

Donated items for sale include costumes and props from FVGSS, A Musical Theatre Society. They recently had to move warehouse locations, so there is a big bundle of quality theatre stuff for sale – great for schools, or anyone needing some really brilliant costumes. That includes the insanely adorable fish costumes (they light up) that I created for the the company’s recent panto, “Little Mermaid,” which played at Surrey Arts Centre in December.

Sue Klapwijk has donated a collection of art books. Lots of “gently used” art supplies have also been donated by other Surrey artists. I know a trombone is for sale, and some dance shoes plus knitting supplies. Admission is by donation, and that entitles you to door-prize draws and light refreshments. Door prizes all donated by DanceCraft – and they are not dancewear!

So here is your story, ready to start. The middle of your story is what you actually do with the start – and the ending is up to you now. Let’s make it a happy ending for everyone. We are all part of the arts council, in one way or another. Now you know.

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