Arts-related gifts destined for Surrey Christmas Bureau are loaded up by (from left to right) Now-Leader arts columnist Melanie Minty, Ryan Broderick, Fred Minty, Patty Halliday and Jenny Lewis. (submitted photo)

MINTY: Artsy gifts for older teens collected by Arts Council of Surrey

Newton Cultural Centre a dropoff hub for toys and gifts that celebrate the arts

By Melanie Minty, arts columnist

Give the gift of art for Christmas. No surprise here that the Arts Council of Surrey is promoting this campaign. It doesn’t necessarily mean buy an original painting, or get tickets for a concert or Christmas play. That’s nice, but the ACS is taking a step out of the ordinary and connecting with Surrey Christmas Bureau.

The bureau has been busy in November registering families who need some help this Christmas – and our community has been generous in responding. The arts council is using Newton Cultural Centre (13530 72nd Ave., west of the Esso gas station) as a dropoff site for toys and gifts that celebrate the arts. Sought are music instruments, colouring supplies, crafting kits, books, dance shoes – anything that has a creative attitude. “We’d like to target the older teens,” says Patty Halliday, who is co-ordinating the effort.

This is an age group that often gets overlooked, so think outside the gift box this year! If families have a teen who would perhaps like to join the Youth Arts Council of Surrey (there is no cost to join), membership forms and the December copy of Spotlight (the arts council’s monthly magazine) will be available at pickup times. Santa has already done one pickup from Newton Cultural Centre, and is ready to fill his Mini Cooper reindeer car with more gifts of art.

It is never too early to introduce a child to the performing arts. Having real people – not animated drawings – doing real things in real time is actually a priceless gift. Surrey Youth Theatre Company is celebrating its 23rd anniversary with a holiday family tradition of musical productions and plays for kids to experience live theatre.

A Winnie The Pooh Christmas Tail, written by James W. Rodgers and based on the books of A.A. Milne, will be presented at White Rock Community Centre (15154 Russell Ave., White Rock) on Dec. 7 at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., and again Dec. 8 at 4 p.m. Visit surreyyouththeatre.ca for a link to tickets and more show info. This is perfect! Songs and beloved characters bring adventure and the joy of Christmas to the Hundred Acre Wood. It is like the Dickens tale, A Christmas Carol.

Lots of theatre clubs are presenting A Christmas Carol in some version or another. Surrey’s Naked Stage Productions Society is presenting a staged reading (no sets, costumes or props, thus the term “naked”) of A Christmas Carol at Newton Cultural Centre on Dec. 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m. and also on Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 at brownpapertickets.com or at the door, or visit nakedstage.net. What a bonus: you can go see the show and bring an artsy gift for the Christmas Bureau (until Dec. 7 only).

There are more Dickens-style Christmas events to attend. The Young People’s Opera Society of BC is presenting A Dickens Christmas in two locations, first on Sunday, Dec. 8 at St. Marks’ Anglican Church (12953 20th Ave.) and then on from Dec. 13 to 15 at Bethany-Newton United Church (14853 60th Ave.). The Dec. 8 event, performed with St. Mark’s Choir, will be a benefit concert for the five-person Syrian refugee family sponsored by the church. Tickets are $22 for adults, $18 for students and seniors, or free for children five and under. Look for details and ticket information at yposbc.org.

The Young People’s Opera Society is a huge asset to our performing arts community. Young people – as young as nine – can participate in the world of opera. We can enjoy the music and the traditions. Great gift.

Surrey Libraries has an inexpensive and creative way for you to donate to their children’s programming. Visit your local branch until Jan. 4, and buy an ornament for $5 to decorate the tree. You can make your own personalized ornament at the holiday craft stations – all supplies provided. Children’s programming is so very important. These little donations can help nearly 200,000 children and youth in Surrey to access premier literacy programs. That is a very worth gift.

Here is one more opportunity to contribute to Surrey Christmas Bureau: FVGSS presents Cinderella, the Panto at Surrey Arts Centre from Nov. 27 to Dec. 8. Tickets are available at the box office, 604 501-5566. Take a young person to the panto (great gift) and bring an unwrapped toy for the Christmas bureau. Now, that is the spirit of the season.

Melanie Minty writes twice monthly for the Now-Leader. Email: melminty@telus.net.

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