Dancers on stage at Surrey Arts Centre during Surrey Festival of Dance in March 2019, a year before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. The annual festival is boosted financially by Surrey’s Cultural Grants program. (File photo: Lauren Collins)

Dancers on stage at Surrey Arts Centre during Surrey Festival of Dance in March 2019, a year before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. The annual festival is boosted financially by Surrey’s Cultural Grants program. (File photo: Lauren Collins)

GOVERNMENT FUNDING

Surrey’s cultural grants save arts groups from ‘dire fiscal situation’ due to COVID, report says

City’s approved 2022 grants range from $1,000 to $25,000, for music, dance, theatre and more

Surrey’s decade-old Cultural Grants program has been a financial lifeline for arts organizations crippled by the COVID pandemic.

So says a report to council that details nearly $500,000 in new grants for 2022.

“Without the cultural grants funding for arts organizations in 2021,” the report says, “it is likely most of Surrey’s arts organizations would have faced a dire fiscal situation that would have forced them to cease operation and services altogether, possibly permanently.”

On Monday (Jan. 31), Surrey city council approved grants for 62 organizations, including music, dance, theatre, heritage, cultural celebrations and community outreach, in addition to 12 Surrey Civic Theatres rental in-kind subsidy grants.

The 2022 grants range from $1,000 to $25,000, for bids received by the deadline last September.

For 2021, applications for cultural grants happened during the pandemic, with some organizations pivoting to online presentations.

“Many organizations were supported to shift their projects from in-person events to online experiences,” the report notes. “Many organizations were challenged to adapt to online programming for the first time. Several organizations chose to postpone their programming to early 2022.”

For the current year, an evaluation committee was impressed “with the creativity and initiative shown by Surrey’s arts organizations in adapting their activities to the post-pandemic reality.”

The 2022 grants cover eight cultural celebrations, ranging from $1,500 for a Black History Month storytelling and cultural show (hosted by African Women Empowerment Society) to $3,000 for a “True Colours” event at city hall’s Centre Stage venue (Pinoy Pride Vancouver Society).

For operating, three $25,000 grants – the maximum amount approved – will benefit Royal Canadian Theatre Company, Semiahmoo Arts Society and Surrey Symphony Society, with $15,000 each for Arts Council of Surrey, Fraser Valley Musical Theatre, Surrey Art Gallery Association and Surrey Festival of Dance, and $10,000 for Peninsula Productions Society.

Most of the 45 operating grants are in the range of $5,000 to $10,000, for projects including Surrey Latin Festival at Surrey Civic Plaza (Canadian Women and Art Society), a series of concerts in Fleetwood (Chilliwack Symphony Orchestra and Chorus), Cloverdale Market Days, Diwali Fest, immersive theatre performances with the school district (DreamRider Productions) and an Afro Caribbean Cultural Summerfest at Surrey Civic Plaza (New Vision Music Society).

Totalling $20,000, Surrey Civic Theatres rental in-kind subsidy grants will go to Aequitas Singers Society, Canada Chinese Performing Arts Society, Diwali Celebration Society, NAAD Arts Centre, Sanjh Foundation, Shakti Society, South Asian Arts Society, Surrey Board of Trade Music City Centre, Surrey City Orchestra, Surrey Youth Theatre Co., Theatre Conspiracy and Transformational Theatre.

The unallocated grant funding balance of $123,917 “will support funding for supplemental grant applications throughout 2022, with any funding remaining to be set aside for 2023 grant requests,” the report notes.

Arts, culture and heritage “are critical for a thriving and vibrant city, particularly during these times,” Coun. Laurie Guerra, chair of the Parks, Recreation & Culture Committee, said in a news release. “I am so pleased that our cultural grants program will once again fund so many exciting cultural experiences in Surrey in 2022. I encourage you to get out and safely support all of the programs and events being offered by our talented arts and culture sector.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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