The provincial government has announced it is distributing more than $9.8 million in grants to arts groups across B.C., through the BC Arts Council.
In all, the province says 394 grants are to be handed out in more than 50 communities.
Surrey-Newton MLA Harry Bains announced the funding on Friday (Sept. 6) at the Royal Academy of Bhangra in Newton, where a bhangra performace was performed to celebrate.
“As MLA for Surrey-Newton, I’ve seen first-hand how people in Surrey are working through the arts to build bridges and bring the communities together,” he said, announcing that the bhangra studio will receive $15,000 as part of the funding announced.
“These grants are vital to support arts and cultural organizations and partners in more than 200 communities all across the province,” Bains said.
Director of the Royal Academy of Bhangra Society Hardeep Singh Sahota said they are “delighted to receive provincial support for our upcoming event Folk Lok Live: Borderless.”
Newton's Royal Academy of Bhangra Studio is receiving $15K (as part of provincial funding for the arts community announced today) for its Folk Lok Live series.
— Surrey Now-Leader (@SurreyNowLeader) September 6, 2019
“The Folk Lok Live series is a way for us to come together and celebrate our rich culture and history by sharing our stories, dance and music,” said Sahota. “This year, we are connecting the Pakistani and Indian Punjabi community by celebrating the shared pre-partition heritage, because we strongly believe that art can be a mechanism for social change.”
Bains said Sahota was part of a group of people in 2012 who has “a vision to create a professional bhangra organization,” adding that “where they are today is commendable.”
“When you talk about communicating, there’s nothing better to communicate among ourselves than music,” Bains said. “You don’t need any other language to understand each other, through music you understand each other.
“It is this vision, this leadership that has made the Royal Academy of Bhangra Society very successful.”
According to a release, the BC Arts Council’s new strategic plan aims to “enhance arts and cultural development throughout the province is to increase equity, diversity and access.”
“The result is more first-time recipients, such as the Royal Academy of Bhangra Society, which offers bhangra classes for all ages, genders and backgrounds, as well as creating collaborative, inclusive events that build cultural bridges in the community,” the release notes.
Susan Jackson, chair of the BC Arts Council, said the organization’s “renewed strategic vision focuses on strengthening arts and culture funding opportunities for all the people of B.C.”
“Not only are we supporting more artists and organizations than ever before, we’re focused on making sure groups not previously funded have access to our grants,” she added.
Several individuals from Surrey are also receiving $6,000 each as part of the arts funding and they are Xanthe Kittson, David Ko, Qiyang Hong, Jingzi (Linda) Ruan, Evelyn Tan.
Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, said B.C.’s “rich cultural diversity gives people an opportunity to experience artistic traditions from all around the world and to promote inclusion and understanding in our communities.”
Beare added that one of the province’s goals in increasing BC Arts Council funding is “to record levels is to provide a platform for expression for artists and arts and culture organizations that were previously under-served, in order to showcase the variety of creative perspectives and voices of B.C. artists.”
The BC Arts Council, an agency of the provincial government, allocates grant funding for arts and culture throughout the province. BC Arts Council grants are administered through a peer- review adjudication process. Grant recipients include artists and arts organizations, including Indigenous groups, scholarship students and community arts councils.