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10 Ways to Revitalize Whalley into an Arts and Culture Hub

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Flamingo Square Art Society Takes on the Streets of Whalley

The first myth of world-change is that it is something that government is in charge of or that you have to have money or be an important business person or you have to be a person of power in order to do anything meaningful.  The truth is the world-changers are people like you and me who see a need and put the pieces together to create a movement.  That movement gains momentum and the world changes before our eyes.  This is an easy guide to the steps in world change as seen through a project currently underway in Surrey, B.C.
 

HOW TO TRANSFORM WHALLEY IN 10 EASY STEPS

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STEP 1 | IDENTIFY A NEED

Passion for change usually comes through pain. You either personally experience a situation or you witness something that you deeply believe is wrong. “Someone needs to do something to change this.” You wrestle with the problem in the middle of the night. You look at what is being done and how you can assist that effort but you realize that you are coming at the problem from a unique perspective and that partnering together with those already working on it while bringing your unique talents to the issue, together you just might be able to change the situation.

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It begins from a position of helplessness but that deep burning passion is born as you find others of like mind and you begin to lay out possibilities. The first step is to clearly define the problem you are trying to solve so you can stay focused. Problems tend to attach themselves to other problems and if you try to solve them all, it can become overwhelming. In my work in the community in Surrey, I was able to identify two problems that kept me up at night and as the universe is known to do, she connected me with like-minded people the solutions to both merged into an amazing opportunity.  But first I had to clearly identify the problems I was tackling.

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Problem #1

Artists in Surrey are looking for space in which to build, create and sell their art. Our city has no easily identifiable Arts Hub. Surrey has no large designated tourist attraction (yet). We have many beautiful parks, public art, a professional theatre company and a strong arts community, we don’t have a specific area of the city dedicated to art and culture. Where is our Granville Island? Where is our theatre district? Where is our Commercial Drive?  Check out the City of Surrey Arts and Culture 10 year strategic plan…

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Problem #2

One area of Whalley has been struggling for many years. The residents and business owners are frustrated and feel that their needs are being ignored. Watching the south side of 104th on King George Highway, they see prosperity and success while on the north side, they struggle to keep their businesses afloat and their streets safe. They love their community and are committed to enriching their space but they need partnership and a plan.  Residents of Whalley have a fierce pride in their area and the history it holds. They are a bonded, creative, resilient, determined community and ready to step up to see the area be given the credit and respect it deserves.  Service Agencies in the struggling part of Whalley are attempting to deal with opioid crisis, lack of funding and lack of housing. They need a strong community, partnering with government to offer with solutions and support in order to help those most in need of assistance.

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Photo: BC Homeless

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Step 2 | Do your Research and come up with possible Solutions

It is easy to complain. It is easy to blame others. It is easy to say, “Why doesn’t somebody do something about that.” It is more difficult to step up and say “I will be that somebody.” Being solution-driven instead of complaints-driven is an important core value distinction. Success and motivating others to join you in world change can’t centre only on the negative need for change. It has to show a positive solution-based future outcome and a clear road map.

In an attempt to be solution-driven, I researched other cities around the world that struggled with these same sets of problems. I was able to identify solutions that had proven traction in cities such as Detroit and Chicago. Using Detroit as the model, I created an Arts and Culture Revitalization plan for the struggling area of Whalley.

Detroit city had a serious economic downturn with the loss of the auto manufacturing industry in the 1950 and 60’s. The Detroit riots in 1967 caused business to leave for safer areas outside of the city and the population plummeted. Over the next years, the city took over one abandoned building after another until it had 50,000 empty buildings in its possession.

The arts community in Detroit asked the city for permission to use those abandoned buildings and they began doing art projects in these deserted and unsafe areas. This attracted people wanting to see what was going on which attracted more artists, which then led to more and more streets being taken over by artists. This created a revitalization of this area of Detroit, which is now a tourist destination and a strong arts community. Wherever there are people gathering, there is room for business to grow and small businesses began to come back to the core of the city.

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Vogue quoted one artist, after the revitalization of the area had taken place as saying:

Detroit is constantly amazing me,” gushes a young artist in a 2012 documentary. He’s cleaning his kitchen appliances because, as he explains, he’s never owned anything so nice before. “I feel like it’s redefining for me the value of what things are,” he says. “$25,000 for an amazing loft? That just makes it accessible for people like me. I was never able to afford a home as an artist.” He adds: “We can experiment here, because if we fail we haven’t really fallen anywhere.

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Photo: Detroit Arts District

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STEP 3 | This model will work in the Whalley Historical District

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We have artists looking for space, and Whalley has space. We have businesses looking for more walking traffic and art creates walking traffic. We have a community in Surrey that is big-hearted, compassionate and economically minded.

They will support revitalization of an area that contributes to the provincial and international communities idea that all of Surrey is unsafe and undesirable.

This one struggling area of Whalley over shadows the fact that this same community is full of successful, proud, independent and resilient residents and businesses.

The difficulties on the infamous “strip” make the front page of the newspapers while the fact that Whalley has a world-famous little league baseball team located in the centre of this historical district is hardly known.

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Photo: Whalley Little League

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This area has beautiful parks, beautiful views and beautiful people and it is time that it became famous for it’s rich history and vibrant community spirit. It is time for a re-branding of Whalley. How about “Whalley Historical District – Arts and Culture Hub?”

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Step 4 | Find Strong Partners

All world change involves groups of people, organizations with vision and sponsors who see potential in working together. Identify your own strengths, identify your areas of need and then be bold in your request for assistance. Go straight to the top and ask directly for exactly what you want. If they say ‘no’ – go to the next one and keep going until you get a ‘yes’. Strong partnerships are the key.

The Arts and Culture hub plan was originally created for another area of the city but when I met Charan Sethi of Tien Sher and he shared his vision for a pedestrian-only street in the middle his new Whalley District development, the penny dropped. His vision of community and the arts communities vision of an arts hub were a perfect fit and the conversation around how this could work began to take solid shape.

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Tien Sher Concept Drawing of Flamingo Square

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Whalley met the criteria for urban revitalization and it met the criteria for artists needs for inexpensive studio and display space.  Creating an arts market would give artists an ability to sell and display their work and create a historical themed tourist centre in the heart of Whalley. The developer’s vision of creating a strong, inclusive, creative community worked well with artistic initiative to draw people into the area.

A partnership between the two was so advantageous for both that the decision was made to pursue this. Flamingo Square was the name chosen as a tribute to the history of the area where the Flamingo Hotel currently sits and the future home of the arts and culture hub of Surrey.

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Photo: Darpan Magazine

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This pedestrian-only street dedicated to the arts district for the support and display of all manners of art including sculpture, music, martial arts, dance, and theatre is preparing to go before council on June the 26th. As this will be the first pedestrian-only street in this area of the city, this partnership is trying to break new ground. It is important that the community show up to this council meeting to show their support for this idea. Mayor and council have restrictions around traffic and parking and it is their job to run the city efficiently for everybody, not just special interest groups but when a large portion of the community stands united and asks for the opportunity to create a unique community space, those in power are compelled to listen because it is also their job to create the city that the community and voters want. Innovation is our middle name in this city after all.

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This will be a welcoming, unique, inclusive, safe space for residents to connect with their neighbours and for tourists to enjoy. Partnering with arts groups, service agencies, multicultural and education organizations, Flamingo Square will offer a different flavor every weekend. There will be entertainment, education and opportunities for people to connect with one another. This idea can become a reality with community support.

Please consider being part of this movement and join the team at the city council meeting on June 26th (meeting date unconfirmed at the time of publication). Sign the petition and follow the Flamingo Square initiative on Facebook, and by email.

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Step 5 | Identify and Remove Barriers

Every good idea benefits some but could harm others. Respecting the people who will be affected by your big ideas is crucial to success. Listen to their concerns, walk a mile in their shoes, have compassion for their story and respect their space. It is important that we don’t march in from the outside and try to “fix” something that may in fact not be broken. Large innovative initiatives involve partnerships and everybody’s perspective and requirements needs to be brought to the table.

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I called on people who I knew had the same passions that I had and we formed a team. The Flamingo Square team began to meet with stakeholders, the City of Surrey staff, the business owners, the artists and the residents in the area to help them develop the details of their plan to see what kind of support they could expect to receive. Flamingo Square together with Tien Sher hosted a Town hall meeting on a warm sunny Monday night. They invited anyone who was impacted or interested in this idea of arts revitalization to join them for an informational session. Participants were given the opportunity to express their ideas and concerns.

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I was told that if I could bring 40 people out to a meeting like this, we would be doing really well. Although I would rather have 10 people that are committed than 100 looky loo’s, I really felt that we needed to know that we have strong community support if I was going to put as many hours into this as it would require. I needed to know that people in the area really wanted this and that they would stand with me when the time came. 40 people wasn’t enough in my estimation.

The day dawned bright and warm. A perfect night to stay home, to BBQ and hang out in the sun. I had prayed for rain but… I set up 100 chairs and I had faith that the community would care enough to sit in a hot hall for a couple of hours and hear us out but I admit that I was scared. I believed in this vision with all my heart but did anybody else?

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At 6:30 people began to trickle in. They quickly passed the 100 mark. They set up more chairs. They ran out of chairs. They passed the 200 mark.

239 people showed up. Some people were curious about what we had in mind. Some were business owners who have had enough of trying to do business in a hostile space.

Some were residents who have a fierce and well-deserved pride in their community and were tired of being held hostage by a few people who disrespect their right to live in safety and piece.

Many were seniors who had lived, worked and raised families in the area. Some were people who loved the idea of supporting a community in need. Some were artists who want a designated area to work out of. Some were from city staff that wanted to see what we had up our sleeves.

A few were educators who want to be part of this type of movement. Some were service providers who want to protect their marginalized people from being pushed further outside the public awareness bubble.

Most were people who deeply care about the area and want to find creative, supportive solutions both to the human condition that occurs there and to the potential this area holds.

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Step 6 | Create a Solid Strategic Plan

The Flamingo Square team consisted of myself, Shara Nixon, a community activist from B.O.S.S. Networks and Jude Campbell, a KPU arts student, an artist and community activist in partnership with Charan Sethi of Tien Sher and Cathrine Levan of Kickstart Communications.

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The Whalley District project will be located where the Flamingo Hotel currently sits at King George Blvd and 107th Street. Tien Sher and a team led by Cathrine Levan promoted their development and the pedestrian walkway through the community, the city and their business connections. The Whalley District team concentrated on dealing with the planning department of the city to get the permits required and to organize a time to meet with Mayor Linda Hepner and council.

The Flamingo Square team promoted the art’s hub and the pedestrian-only walkway artist centre through their connections with businesses, city and artists. This team wrote a strategic plan, budget and business outline with measurable targets and timelines.Through meetings with potential partners, stakeholders and those affected by this initiative, both teams were able to piece together the best way to meet the needs of the community, not disturb the care of those in need and still meet the objective of both the arts community and the developer.

The developer donated the use of office space and Flamingo Square took the keys to their new office and gallery space on June 7, 2017.

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Step 7 | Identify the Target and Stay Focused

Knowing your objectives and staying focused on those objectives is important in terms of moving forward. Identifying what it is that you hope to accomplish and remaining true to your goal through distractions and hijacks and the push and pull of other’s expectations is the key to separating what is important from what is just noise.

In the days that followed the Town hall meeting, the phone did not stop ringing, the emails did not stop coming in. Everyone was excited to support this and all had ideas of ways they could contribute. Each had their own idea of how it should be done and what needed to be accomplished first. Both teams worked hard to connect with everyone that responded in order to get their commitment solidified into future action.

In an effort to determine what the wider community needed, the research showed that people are disconnected in their communities and that disconnect leads to depression and loneliness. The use of online and social media to attempt to find a life partner or people of similar interests has had a serious backlash of negative influences, fake news and distorted thinking. This has built an environment of distrust and isolation.

Flamingo Square has an idea that stranger doesn’t need to be a threatening word. The team believes that there are more things that bind us together than tear us apart. They have begun to put together ways to introduce strangers in a safe and welcoming environment in the hopes that this can create strong, relationship-built communities, not only in the Whalley area but within the context of the entire city. It is part of this initiatives mandate to find ways for inter-generational conversations, ways for singles to meet, ways for cultural divides to be crossed and places for conversations to be had face-to-face. To build personal relationships you have to give people the time, space and opportunity to meet and really get to know each other in ways that festivals and other public meetings can’t always provide.

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Flamingo Square will have a connection component to all their events and one of the first pieces will be The Kitchen Table. This is literally a kitchen table. Anyone that sits at that table is inviting a conversation with anyone else that comes to sit at the kitchen table. Everyone is welcome to join the table and the discussion. This will be a great way to meet people and hear about life experiences other than your own. Come and sit with me at the kitchen table and let’s solve all the world’s problems. Let’s connect across age and culture boundaries.

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Step 8 | Keep Up Momentum

Everyone is always excited about an idea in the beginning but when the real work starts, everyone starts looking at their shoes.  It is important to have a plan in place that people, when excited, can commit to something tangible.  Break large tasks into smaller tasks so everyone has something important to do. As the actual building of the pedestrian-only arts-based street will take two and half years to go from the planning stages to the final grand opening, it was important to keep up the momentum over this long period by providing small glimpses into what is to come. The Flamingo Team will be working with artists on four major street art projects designed to be permanent installations in the area as well as 12 major art events to take place during the construction phase. These events are still in the planning stage and have yet to go before the city for approval but watch for more information

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or ways you can get involved. The Flamingo Square team is working with The Whalley District team to develop relationships with the business in the area to assist them in applying for neighbourhood beautification grants and other sources of funding and sponsorship to create a welcoming business community.

Partnering with local gardening companies, designers, paint stores, security companies, artists and business people, the businesses in the area, we can create a unique space to attract customers.

Marketing the area using a communication plan created by Cathrine Levan of Kickstart Communications will help the business community come together and support each other as well as draw consumers back into the area. Working together, the area can create an economic impact.

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Step 9 | Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

Most people are willing to help but unable to take dedicate large amounts of time or money. Break your project down into bite-sized pieces and find others to share the load. All a successful plan really needs is a good strong leader, a solid plan, a willing group of core people and a community that will step up when it is asked. The Flamingo Square project is a community effort and will require all sectors and areas of Surrey to support this initiative. Being willing to boldly ask for sponsorship, in-kind donations, attendance at events and assistance from the leaders in the community is the only way large projects like this can work.

Every area of Surrey that has done anything amazing started with someone and their vision and then their team and then their support network. From the Surrey International Children’s Festival to the Newton Cultural Centre, the one thing each of these community based organizations have in common is someone who was willing to step up and lead and others being willing to offer their assistance.

If you like the idea of an art’s hub and want to get involved. Please call. If you think the struggling area of Whalley needs support and you want to be a part of this, please call. If you are curious and want to come and check out what is going on down there, sign the petition, sign up on the email list at Shara@flamingosquare.website or join the Facebook page or Twitter feed (@flamingosquare). If you think is a great idea and you would like to help The Whalley District partnership with Flamingo Square, come to the Council meeting on June 26th to show your support. If you want to be a part of this legacy project then take a minute to think of a way or a service or an item that you can offer that will move this initiative forward and then call. (604 807 7210).

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Step 10 | Walk the Walk

It is nice to have everyone say “what a great idea” but talking doesn’t get you up the mountain. The difficult part is walking the walk. You will reach a point when there is no one there to help you, everything is going wrong and you are no longer certain of your success.

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You reach a realization of the actual time it will take, the energy you will need and the dedication to your vision that it will really require. It is the time in every great idea when you are at the bottom of the mountain and the noise of the cheering crowds fades and you realize just what you have started and how difficult this climb is really going to be. It is in that moment that your vision becomes reality or dies.

Without the crowds, without blinders on, with a full realization of the time, sacrifice and commitment that this will take, you either stop or you step.

The success or failure of your idea is in that one step.

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Take a deep breath, say good-bye temporarily to your comfortable life, your sanity and your complacency, and put your foot on that mountain and climb.  The ten steps are important but it is that one step that determines the outcome. You can change the world. You just have to be willing to make that one step. 

Flamingo Square Art ConnectionThe Whalley Historical District – 2017604 807 7210

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Shara Nixon loves to hear and repeat the stories of people’s lives and cultural viewpoints. She enjoys deep conversations and people who hold strong viewpoints. In her day job she is a social worker for business owners, helping them meet their goals. As an insomniac, she writes at night to clear her head. She is punctuationally challenged and uses too many !!!. She also believes in creative spelling as an art form. Her super-power is in connecting like-minded people and communicating with an intent to learn instead of respond. She writes about relationships, business savvy, online dating, finance and general things that piss her off. Shara believes that key to peace is education and connection!!!

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Famous Wrestler ‘Shakes Up’ Surrey Artifact Collection

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John Tenta ‘Earthquake’ memorabilia now on display at Museum of Surrey

Surrey, BC – The legacy of WWF wrestler John Tenta, known worldwide as ‘Earthquake’ is being celebrated with a display of memorabilia in the Museum of Surrey’s latest feature exhibition ‘Shake Up: Preserving What We Value.’

Visitors will have the opportunity to see the former Surrey resident’s iconic 1991 action figure, “The Wrestler” Magazine, featuring Earthquake vs. Hulk Hogan from 1990, a deck of trading cards and more in the exhibit’s pop culture section.

“Earthquakes are some of nature’s most powerful forces, and John Tenta certainly evokes that energy with the persona he created, which makes his legacy a perfect fit for the exhibit,” said Curator of Exhibits, Colleen Sharpe.

‘Shake Up: Preserving What We Value’ was originally developed by the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. Using cultural objects, art, and multimedia displays, the exhibit tells the story of earthquakes—and other natural disasters—through Indigenous knowledge passed down through oral histories.

To complement the multi-media installations, MOS added Surrey-specific content from the Heritage Surrey Collection, including the recent acquisition of Tenta’s memorabilia.

Kristin Hardie, Curator of Collections, says the memorabilia acquired for the Surrey Artifact Collection is one example of how objects can serve as a connection point with our community’s memory.

“We are thrilled to be able to preserve the amazing story of a ‘Surreyite’ who rose to the highest levels of his sport and who became famous on a global scale.

We hope that these items both preserve John Tenta’s legacy in his hometown and encourage his neighbours and fans to share their memories and stories about him.”

Hardie recently reached out to Tenta’s son, Jeff Tenta, who resides in Florida with his wife and two children. When asked how he felt about his father being included in the exhibit and his story being preserved and shared at the museum, he responded that it was a proud moment for the family.

“We’re happy that his community appreciates it – it’s good to know people care,” he said. Preserving and Sharing Surrey’s Stories. Heritage Services administers a large civic artifact collection, which consists of over 20,000 objects.

Already a world junior wrestling champion by age 20, Tenta first rose to fame in Japan, where he spent eight months as a sumo wrestler. He and his family returned to his hometown of Surrey from approximately 1989 to 1996, where he was affectionally known as ‘Big John’ to local media.

By 1989, Tenta was a full-time member in the WWF with the name, Earthquake. In 1993, Tenta headlined a West Coast wrestling competition at the Cloverdale Fairgrounds.

In 2006, Tenta passed away from bladder cancer at the age of 42. His sister, Brenda, currently resides in Langley.

‘Shake Up: Preserving What We Value’ runs until June. Visitors must pre-register for one hour long self-guided visits, which are available from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. from Wednesday to Saturday. Visitors can register by visiting emailing or by calling 604-592-6956.

The museum follows all citywide COVID- 19 safety protocols as per Health BC, City of Surrey and Worksafe BC. Masks are mandatory. Registration required for every person in your family group, including infants. For more information, visit us.

For more information about the Surrey Artifact Collections, visit our site. The City’s artifact collection can also be viewed virtually using the Surrey Archives & Museums free Online Access (SAMOA).

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A Symbol of Welcome at Museum of Surrey

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The Rivers that Connect Us by kʼwyʼiʼyʼe Spring Salmon Studio

Surrey, BC – A new public artwork has been installed at Museum of Surrey, the final component of the Museum expansion. The artwork is easily viewed by those travelling along Highway 10. Designed and fabricated locally by kʼwyʼiʼyʼe Spring Salmon Studio (Drew Atkins, Phyllis Atkins, and Aaron Jordan),

The Rivers that Connect Us is a monumental sculpture that makes an important contribution to the Cloverdale Historic District by acknowledging and reflecting the longstanding presence of First Nations peoples.

The artwork’s five-metre-tall, illuminated paddles are raised to the sky recalling a traditional Coast Salish gesture indicating peace and respect made when a canoe traveller approached a village.

The artwork’s welcoming gesture is intended to honour the diversity of newcomers arriving in Surrey and the traditional lands of the Coast Salish peoples.

The sculpture’s four paddles encircle a 3.5-metre round base that features a design inspired by the traditional form of a Coast Salish spindle whorl, a tool used by Coast Salish women to spin wool for weaving.

The base also references a compass and the four directions. The Salish Eye designs around the base of the paddles represent the seven traditional teachings of the Kwantlen peoples: health, happiness, generations, generosity, humility, forgiveness, and understanding.

While referencing the deep history of the land and the traditional territory of the Coast Salish peoples including the q̓ʷɑ:n̓ƛ̓ən̓, q̓ic̓əy̓, and səmyəmɑʔɬ (Kwantlen, Katzie, and Semiahmoo First Nations) and traditional Coast Salish design, the sculpture also incorporates innovative technology with its steel and polycarbonate materials and programmable LED lighting.

Community consultation guided this public art opportunity from the outset. Multiple community engagement sessions were held, culminating in a group of Cloverdale residents serving on a panel to select the artists and artwork concept.

One of the key recommendations from the community was that the sculpture serve as a gateway feature for travellers to Cloverdale and the City of Surrey. The lighting will ensure the artwork is visible at night and fulfills the expectation of the Cloverdale community.

The artwork also offers an invitation to learn more about Surrey’s history, located beside Museum of Surrey (17710 56A Avenue) and Surrey Archives (located in the 1912 Municipal Hall).

For the artists, The Rivers that Connect Us provided an important opportunity to mark the traditional territories on which Surrey is built.

They say, “The Fraser River and its local tributaries—the Salmon, Serpentine, and Nicomekl Rivers—formed a transportation network that connected First Nations people in the area since time immemorial. Relied upon for resource gathering, travel, and trade, these rivers were traversed by canoes from many nations. Presently, the Highway 10 corridor, and its many connecting roads, is today’s river.”

The artwork’s title, The Rivers That Connect Us, is a reminder and an invitation to a shared human connection regardless of cultural or ethnic backgrounds.

About the Artists

Drew Atkins (Nəq̓ɑɬc̓i) is a member of the Kwantlen First Nation community by marriage to his wife and fellow artist, Phyllis Atkins (q̓ʷɑt̓ic̓ɑ’s). He works in many mediums including painting, drawing, carving, and sculpture.

He was trained in the Coast Salish carving tradition while apprenticing with his dear friend and mentor Xwa-lack-tun (Rick Harry). Atkins owns and operates K’wy’iye’ Spring Salmon Studio and Gallery in unceded Fort Langley, BC with Phyllis Atkins. springsalmonstudio.com

Phyllis (Qwoy’tic’a) Atkins is an artist of the Kwantlen First Nation whose name means “I wear the clouds like a blanket” or “Shrouded in clouds.” Her name comes from the Nɬeʔkepmx language and it was given to her by her maternal grandfather Hereditary Chief Anthony Joe of the Shakan Band (Thompson River People).

Phyllis is also part Sto:lo (People of the river). Phyllis has taken oil painting lessons from Barbara Boldt and hand-carved silver jewelry lessons by Master Carver Derek Wilson. She is a renowned painter and jeweler at their home on Kwantlen First Nation in Fort Langley. springsalmonstudio.com

Aaron Jordan grew up surrounded by artists and craftsmen of all mediums. Working for a few years in art galleries and museums led Aaron to attend Langara College to study fine arts. He went on to discover the world of film and was swept up by the creativity and diversity of the industry while working as a sculptor and carpenter building sets and props. ajordancreation.com

About Surrey’s Public Art Program

Established in 1998, Surrey’s Public Art Program contributes to the creation of a lively, beautiful, inclusive, and complete community. The City’s art collection reflects community identity, cultural diversity, and Indigenous heritage.

Public art contributes to placemaking across the City and its sustainable socio-economic development. Among the 100+ artworks in Surrey’s public art collection are mosaics, paintings, and interactive sculptures that remember Surrey’s history, enhance infrastructure, and honour the surrounding natural environment.

From subtle to iconic, public art can be found in the City’s parks, on pathways, streets, SkyTrain pillars, and civic buildings throughout the City of Surrey. For more information about the Public Art Program and the collection, visit surrey.ca/publicart

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Recent Past Meets Speculative Future In Mark Soo’s Video Installation (Apr 17)

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April 17−June 6, 2021
Artist Talk: Saturday, April 17 | 1:00 p.m. –2:00 p.m. PST on Surrey Art Gallery’s Facebook page and YouTube channel

Surrey, BC – Surrey Art Gallery launches their spring exhibit Mark Soo: Twilight on the Edge of Town on Facebook Live and YouTube on Saturday, April 17 from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. PST with a talk by the artist that will be available for replay afterwards.

Drawing from an archive that evokes the history of science fiction film, 3D animation, documentary photography, and literature, Mark Soo’s newest video artwork explores the nature of perception and the limits of storytelling.

Through his juxtapositions of visual and experiential phenomena, this project stimulates poetic associations to place, reality, and imagination.

Across multiple screens, the artist creates an immersive choreography of visual elements over twenty-five minutes. Holographic images depict objects and events of the seemingly everyday where surreal log jams and raindrops mingle with flickering streetlights and backyard scenes.

An ambient soundtrack includes the voices of a child and adult simultaneously narrating the images, one in a speculation on the future and the other in a recollection of the past. Experienced in an ambiguous present, remembrance slips into projection and past and future are intertwined.

Mark Soo says, “I’ve tried to make a work that speaks to a complicated relationship to where we are, and of how we perceive that in terms of time and the relation to space.”

The result is part theatre, experimental cinema, and art installation. “By experimenting with the relationship between image and sound, fact and fiction,” says curator Jordan Strom, “Soo’s large-scale environment is a compelling meditation on the nature of individual and collective memory.”

Twilight on the Edge of Town builds on Soo’s work of the past decade and a half, including his interests in photography and film, the history of social movements, and experiments with the technological image. Surrey Art Gallery and Wirklichkeit Books, Berlin, will be co-publishing a catalogue about Mark Soo: Twilight on the Edge of Town in the fall of 2021.

Twilight on the Edge of Town is one of the 200 exceptional projects funded in part through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program. With this $35M investment, the Council supports the creation and sharing of the arts in communities across Canada.

Other exhibitions at Surrey Art Gallery include Art by Surrey Secondary Students, a display of collages, drawings, and paintings from local youth (closes April 30) and the artist video Yam Lau: Hutong House. At UrbanScreen, Surrey Art Gallery’s offsite art venue, the Flavourcel collective presents I Spy a City, a series of animations that capture different sights in Surrey (closes May 2).

About Mark Soo

Mark Soo was born in Singapore. He graduated from Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design in 2001 and currently lives and works in Vancouver and Berlin. He works in a variety of media including photography, sound, and video, which he uses to investigate notions of perception, modes of representation, and considerations of social space.

Soo draws on diverse sources ranging from art history to popular and social histories. He has had solo exhibitions in Vancouver, Berlin, and London and has participated in numerous group exhibitions.

About Surrey Art Gallery

Internationally recognized for its award-winning programs, Surrey Art Gallery, located at 13750 88 Avenue in Surrey on the unceded territories of the Salish Peoples, including the q̓ic̓əy̓ (Katzie), q̓ʷɑ:n̓ƛ̓ən̓ (Kwantlen), and Semiahma (Semiahmoo) nations, is the second largest public art museum in Metro Vancouver.

Founded in 1975, the Gallery presents contemporary art by local, national, and international artists, including digital and audio art. Its extensive public programs for children through to adults aim to engage the public in an ongoing conversation about issues and ideas that affect our communities and to provide opportunities to interact with artists and the artistic process.

Admission is free. Surrey Art Gallery gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance of the City of Surrey, Province of BC through BC Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, and the Surrey Art Gallery Association.

Surrey Art Gallery will continue to present Art Together, a series of online programs that began in March 2020 and explore art and artists in the community, spark the imagination, and celebrate the ways that art can impact our lives.

Visit our website, follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and subscribe to our YouTube channel. surrey.ca/artgallery

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Shake Up: Preserving What We Value

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Indigenous knowledge, science and pop culture unite to address ‘the Big One’

Surrey, BC – Museum of Surrey announces its latest feature exhibition, Shake Up: Preserving What We Value, coming March 11 to June 6. Through multimedia installations, art, and cultural objects, Shake Up examines the knowledge of earthquakes and natural disasters that has been passed down for generations through First Nations oral histories.

“It’s about reflecting on what we value, and how we ensure we keep our loved ones and stories safe,” said Museum of Surrey manager, Lynn Saffery, of the exhibit that was originally developed by Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia.

As part of the immersive exhibit, visitors will have the opportunity board an electric car and take a simulated drive down a San Francisco street, featuring never-before-seen footage of the big 1906 quake aftermath. Visitors can get up close to an earthquake-proof yurt, built locally in Langley.

The theme of earthquakes in pop culture is explored through movie posters, cards, earthquake toys and the famous WWF wrestler, ‘Earthquake.’ Surrey-specific content and artifacts from the Heritage Surrey collection will also be on display.

Free pre-registered, one-hour self-guided visits of the museum are available from Wednesday to Saturday. The museum follows all citywide COVID-19 safety protocols as per Health BC, City of Surrey and WorkSafe BC. Masks are mandatory. Registration required for every person in your family group, including infants. Call 604-592-6956 or email museum@surrey.ca to register.

Museum of Surrey is a dynamic and accessible community hub and cultural space that reflects the City of Surrey’s innovation and creativity.

It is a people museum, with a mission to connect people and stories through engaging events, interactive award- winning exhibits, programs, textiles and local, national and international exhibitions, as well as public space for rentals. The site, located at 17710 56A Avenue in Surrey, is on the Heritage Campus, home to Veterans Square, Anderson Cabin, 1881 Town Hall and Anniedale School.

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Cloverdale Rodeo Bucks Trend, Saddles Up For 2021 Event

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Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair postponed to later in 2021

Covid-safety drives date change for event’s 75th Anniversary

Surrey, B.C. – The BC Lower Mainland’s top spring event, the Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair, is being postponed due to Covid-19. Dates in the second half of the year are being considered with advice from health officials.

“Public safety rides high in the saddle for us,” states Shannon Claypool, President of the Cloverdale Rodeo & Exhibition Association. “We are planning another thrilling rodeo, but with less capacity to allow lots of physical distancing to a masked, fun-loving audience. We will work with health officials to determine when the event can be held safely.”

There are two factors that will determine when the event can occur: public safety of Covid-19 and the removal of border restrictions so that competitors, livestock, and entertainment can enter into Canada.

The Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair is traditionally held on the Victoria Day weekend each year; however, last year’s event was cancelled by organizers along with most rodeos and fairs around the world. The event will resume occurring each Victoria Day weekend (May 20-23) in 2022.

The roots of this event goes back 133 year’s to the community’s first fair. By far, the star of the event is the rodeo, which will be celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

The Cloverdale Rodeo and Exhibition Association is the community-based, non-profit organization that manages the world-famous Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair at the Cloverdale Fairgrounds in Surrey, British Columbia.

The Association is also responsible for the year-round management of the Cloverdale Fairgrounds, which consists of 90 acres and eight facilities. The site hosts 1,000 events annually, ranging from trade shows and concerts to sports events and community meetings. The Association pivoted during the pandemic to also rent space for film shoots and currently hosts the set the Superman and Lois television show.

Every year, student leaders receive scholarships and youth programs receive resources from the Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation, which was created by the Association to support the community’s future.

For more information please visit: www.CloverdaleRodeo.com

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