Re: Surrey arts and heritage and the municipal election.
Art matters. When travelling, I visit cities large and small that demonstrate this conviction.
I return nourished, educated, stimulated and often challenged by the experiences.
My desire is to integrate this expanded world view with my home view.
Early in my 13 years as a Surrey resident, like many, I acknowledged the talent found in the local arts scene, but reserved my “real” cultural experiences for trips to Vancouver.
I no longer feel this way.
In the past three to five years, cultural funding has hit the chopping block, and yet Surrey initiated the Fusion Festival, the Newton Cultural Centre, business support for annual Civic Treasure awards, the new library with internationally acclaimed architecture and art installations as well as increasing a remarkable public art collection.
I credit this to the vision, leadership and follow through from Mayor Watts and the Surrey First councilors. Surrey has created a cultural strategic plan through public consultation.
This robust and often unwieldy process serves as an important decision making resource. Mayor, council and city staff not only listened, but have made policy changes and sought funding for projects that have put Surrey on the map as a Canadian cultural capital to be taken seriously.
As a South Surrey resident, I am thrilled that approval has come for a $1.5-million addition for arts programming at the recreation centre and planning development will begin for an art space in the town centre.
This is big picture thinking. This is finding a way to balance rapid growth with aesthetics and cultural values that influence vibrant city evolution.
In my opinion, the dynamic, changing face of Surrey attests that art matters.