BC Culture Days launches at Surrey City Hall with fanfare

SURREY — If the BC Culture Days launch at Surrey’s City Hall was any indication, arts and culture patrons of the city have a lot to look forward to Friday through Sunday.

The lobby and council chambers at Surrey’s new City Hall were abuzz with activity midday Thursday as the city and community players kicked off the province-wide Culture Days for the upcoming weekend.

Stilt walkers, poets, artists, musicians and more walked about the opening ceremonies, which included collaborative painting demonstrations by the South Surrey White Rock Artists’ Society, dance performances, historically-sound re-enactments, live music and more.

“This is a huge undertaking that was made bigger than what we’ve done in the past by the incredible support that the city of Surrey threw behind Culture Days this year,” said Rob Gloor, chair of the B.C. task force for Culture Days.

Culture Days, an opportunity for cities to showcase community arts in the form of a festival, is part of a country-wide initiative. B.C. in particular will be seeing 540 culture-related events happen across the province this coming weekend (Sept. 26 to 28), including workshops, discussions, collaborative art projects and tours.

“It’s just a great way to remind everyone of how many diverse activities are going to be happening over the weekend and across the province,” Gloor said of the opening ceremonies. “We’re happy to celebrate it in Surrey, but it’s also about kicking off the entire province-wide festival.”

Entertainers at the event included Surrey’s own Lisa Brokop, country singer, who serenaded the crowd, as well as Spirit of the West frontman John Mann who performed alongside Allan Rodger as a duo.

Heritage re-enactors wowed the crowd with on-point impersonations of momentous Surrey figures, like Reeve Sullivan who served the city from 1910 to 1921.

At the same time, the closing ceremony for Surrey’s Pianos on the Streets initiative took place at City Hall, with sisters Natalia Pardalis and Akylina Pardalis performing jazz standards.

“Surrey Arts Centre has some great activities planned, the Surrey Art Gallery and the libraries also have some storytelling activities,” said Nazanin Shoja, coordinator for BC Culture Days. “There’s a few dozen events in Surrey alone, it’s really pretty cool, they go across performing arts and visual arts and arts workshops. It’s a huge breadth of activity.”

The criteria, Shoja and Gloor said, to hold a Culture Days event are that the activity must be free, registered on the Culture Days website and gives a “different perspective of the view of cultural activities compared to what might be offered throughout the year.”

“There’s quite a variety and the main idea is to get the public engaged and hands-on with the activities that are happening,” Gloor said. “It’s like a province-wide open house for the arts.”

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