BC World Music Collective.

Surrey Arts Centre’s 50th anniversary celebrated at March 14 gala/concert

BC World Music Collective will perform at the special event

Surrey Arts Centre’s golden anniversary will be celebrated during a special event there on March 14.

Tickets start at $26 for a 50th-anniversary gala that Wednesday night featuring music by BC World Music Collective, a large, high-energy “supergroup” that features Vancouver-area musicians originally from Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, Africa and London.

The party at the Bear Creek Park facility also promises a chance to “mingle, reminisce and enjoy some finger food,” followed by the collective’s performance.

“Gather with friends and family for a grand golden gala,” reads a post on the web page where tickets can be purchased (tickets.surrey.ca).

“Wax nostalgic and celebrate the legacy and inspiration that Surrey Civic Theatres has brought to the community and the artists that have graced its stages through its 50 years.”

Surrey Centennial Arts Centre, as it was then known, officially opened its doors on Feb. 29, 1968 – Leap Day – with a production of Brigadoon, a musical about two American tourists who visit a mysterious Scottish village that appears for only one day every 100 years.

The municipality budgeted $200,000 to build its new cultural centre, which expanded and evolved over the years to include a black-box Studio Theatre and the creation of Surrey Art Gallery in the facility’s north wing.

Photos and history of the facility are included in “anniversary pages” of its 2017-18 season brochure.

Longtime event presenters at the arts centre include Surrey Festival of Dance (from the very start), Fraser Valley Gilbert and Sullivan Society, Arts Club Theatre Company, Royal Canadian Theatre Company and Surrey International Children’s Festival.

• READ MORE: Surrey’s Culture Days ambassador will celebrate 50th birthday of arts centre — a place she knows very well, from June 2017.

Last fall, in her role as one of seven Culture Days ambassadors in B.C., Lyn Verra-Lay led a project to celebrate the arts centre’s 50th birthday during BC Culture Days.

“I’ve been hanging out in that area (of Surrey Arts Centre) since I was 14,” she noted earlier in the year. “I used to go there and scrape clay out of the creek and make things, and now I teach clay classes to kids at the arts centre, so it’s kind of a big full-circle thing for me.”

The building holds a lot of memories for Verra-Lay, who remembers playing flute and piccolo there in Whalley Legion Junior Band.

“It was sponsored by Legion #229, and (we) recorded a record there, a vinyl record, in 1976, and they had eight microphones on stands interspersed between the band members. That recording has been transferred to CD, and it actually sounds pretty good.”

(STORY CONTINUES BELOW VIDEO)

During the anniversary event on March 14, BC World Music Collective will feature musicians Adonis Puentes, Celso Machado, Tonye Aganaba, Kurai Blessing, Locarno (Tom Landa, Pedro Mota, Robin Layne, Liam MacDonald, Nick La Riviere, Kalissa Landa, Ronnie Swirl) and Ostwelve, a First Nations rapper (Stō:lo/St’át’imc/Nlaka’pamux territories). 

The band first performed together in the summer of 2015, when the artists were asked to come together to perform at the Vancouver Island Music Festival.

“After an intense week of rehearsals, the group made their first appearance on the mainstage of the festival,” according to a bio posted at bcworldmusiccollective.com. “After their set, they were all elated with how it went, and decided one performance just wouldn’t be enough. A few weeks later, a plan was hatched to turn the one-off project into the province’s most exciting World Music band.”

Doug Cox, director of Vancouver Island Music Festival, was instrumental in bringing the project together, and is quoted as saying this about the band’s first performance: “The BC World Music Collective was one of those special projects at our festival that worked from the get-go. Quite a wonderful celebration of the multiculturalism that makes up our fair province. Beyond all that, it was just good, high-energy fun as well.”

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