Surrey First mayoral candidate Tom Gill. (Submitted photo)

Surrey election

Surrey First promises to build a ‘world class,’ 1200-seat performing arts centre

The party says the preliminary 240,000-square-foot concept is estimated to cost $245 million

Surrey First has announced the details of its arts and culture platform, and it includes building a “world class” performing arts centre, developing a “contemporary art gallery in South Surrey and new spaces for artists in community centres.

The slate, led by mayoral candidate and incumbent Councillor Tom Gill, promises to create an endowment fund to “kick-start plans for a world class performing arts centre,” double arts and culture grants, and use the “maker space” planned for the new Clayton Community Centre as a model for more artist work spaces across the city.

A release notes “the 1,200-seat performing arts centre would include a smaller 200-seat theatre and rehearsal space, expanded lobby for receptions, meeting space for conferences and a privately-run signature restaurant. The preliminary 240,000-square-foot concept is estimated at $245 million.”

See also: Integrity Now says performance, cultural centre is ‘much needed’ in Surrey

Gill said he would commit $1 million annually over the next five years to an arts and culture endowment fund as a way of launching plans for the performing arts centre, including developing a detailed financial and fundraising case that would include other levels of government and “local philanthropists with a passion for the arts.”

He said it would take four years to put a business case together, find partners and secure funding “but I believe we can have our performing arts centre open within 10 years. But, the time to start is now.”

Gill said the arts centre would be a “catalyst for a vibrant entertainment district in and around city centre and a major attraction for those of us in Surrey as well as visitors from across the region.”

“Great cities, the ones we all admire, have a strong and vibrant creative side and Surrey is no different,” Gill said in a release. “We have a very creative arts and cultural community in Surrey. We want to encourage that talent and see it flourish right across our city. For instance, the performing arts centre will be a creative hub for Surrey, a destination for our region and an anchor for a vibrant new entertainment district.”

Meantime, incumbent Councillor Vera LeFranc said Surrey First would double arts and culture grants from $500,000 to $1 million annually over the next five years.

“Creativity helps define a city and the creative economy is a growing part of our community,” said LeFranc. “Expanding arts and culture programs is also a wonderful way to engage our children and teens. It fits perfectly with our anti-gang plans and like free access to our pools, rinks and gyms, our arts and culture programs are a really positive way to reach out and protect our kids.”

Gill said the contemporary art gallery in South Surrey represents much-needed gallery space for Surrey artists.

“Art is meant to be seen,” explained Gill. “The new gallery in South Surrey is an important part of our art and culture platform because it goes a long way to giving Surrey’s artists the space they need to showcase their talent. At the same time, the addition of ‘maker space’ at the Clayton Community Centre will promote collaboration between artists and is a terrific model for more working spaces at other centres around the city. When you knit all of these creative pieces together it represents a long-term commitment that will encourage the tremendous talent that calls Surrey home.”

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