The third annual Surrey Mayor’s Art Awards are happening this year, but the word “mayor” won’t be in its name.
Surrey Board of Trade (SBOT) partnered with former mayor Linda Hepner in hosting the event for the past two years, but they are going it alone this year after not hearing from Mayor Doug McCallum if he would attend the 2019 event.
“I’ve been asking his office if he’s going to be attending the June 14 event. We’ve been asking for months,” said Anita Huberman, CEO of SBOT. “Indications were that I have to wait for a response, but no response has been forthcoming for the past two months. I have to move on, I need to raise sponsorships, and promote nominations and the event itself. I have a new logo for the event, and the word mayor is out of the title.”
The event has now been “rebranded” and has a new name: the Surrey Arts & Business Awards.
Huberman said the event has always aimtd to “really bridge arts and business together, to showcase what the city is doing for arts and culture, and to really award individuals as well as businesses that are contributing to Surrey from the arts and culture perspective.”
A Now-Leader request to interview McCallum for this story was denied.
“The Mayor has no comment on this,” according to an email from a spokesman in the Mayor’s Office.
Despite uncertainty about whether McCallum will attend, Huberman said the plan is for city staff to continue to participate.
“We’ve been conversing with city staff, with parks, recreation and culture, and they’re going to be providing a brief update on stage as they did last year. City staff are just such a pleasure to work with and they’re open to working with the Surrey Board of Trade,” she said.
McCallum and all of council are “absolutely” invited to attend, Huberman added.
“All government representatives are more than welcome,” she said, “and have attended in the past.”
This is the latest in ongoing tension between Huberman and McCallum.
The Surrey Board of Trade hasn’t seen eye-to-eye with McCallum on a number of issues and hasn’t shied away from vocalizing it, issuing a press release two days after the civic election last October saying the group will “continue to advocate for LRT, RCMP and ridesharing despite” the results of the election.
SBOT also said it was “disappointed” with the city’s budget, which delayed several civic amenities in an efford to reduce the city’s accrual of debt, and also meant no new police officers would be hired in 2019.
On Jan. 29 Safe Surrey Coalition councillors were a no-show at a Surrey Board of Trade-hosted forum on the city’s policing future amid the slate vowing to replace Surrey RCMP with a municipal force. Surrey council’s plan to replace RCMP came under some scrutiny at the event.
And, for the first time in decades, the city is organizing the annual Mayor’s State of the City Address instead of the SBOT.
Last December Surrey council reduced the business group’s budget from a recommended $40,000 to $10,000, after SBOT initially asked for $85,000.
At the time, McCallum noted the move “makes it equal with the South Surrey Chamber of Commerce and also the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce.”
The Surrey Arts & Business Awards are set for June 14, from 7:30 to 10 a.m., at Civic Hotel (13475 Central Ave.).
Nominations are now open and close May 13, in the following categories: Arts & Innovation Award, Cultural Ambassador, Philanthropy Award and Legacy Award.
To nominate someone for the 2019 awards, or to register to attend, visit businessinsurrey.com/events/surrey-arts-awards.
In 2018, former mayor Linda Hepner presented the Legacy award to Surrey Little Theatre, the Philanthropy award to Concord Pacific, the Arts & Innovation award to Peninsula Productions and the Cultural Ambassador award to Ellie King, founder and artistic director of Royal Canadian Theatre Company.