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Imagine COVID 19 Without Internet, Film, Music or Art



Part 1 of 3: The impact on the arts community straining under this pandemic.  What will the future look like for those in the creative employment fields?

This pandemic has hit many industries hard but none so hard as the industry we need the most. The artists, writers, film makers, theatre groups, and musicians have lost all their shows and income in one fell swoop. Imagine trying to survive 2 weeks of self-isolation without a book to read, a picture to paint, photographs to look at, music to listen to or movies to watch. The very thing that is maintaining our sanity right now is the area most under attack. While we get our feel-good fills of musicians playing on their balconies and actors reading Shakespeare, we must also realize that none of them are getting paid and they have mortgages too.

To find out what long term impact COVID 19 has had on the arts, we asked some artists and creators to tell us how this has affected them and their organizations.

When asked “How has this affected your life and your arts organization”, many were quick to acknowledge the devastating effects this has had on their finances and ability to move forward. When you consider your favorite movie or music or book, you don’t always see all the people behind the scenes that were necessary for that entertainment to become a reality. The production staff and side workers are one part of it but if you take it back even further, the music teachers and theatre schools, private lessons and entertainment opportunities that were afforded people at a young age were the foundations of the arts offerings you are enjoying during your social isolation. It begs the question, what will the long term effect be as the development of the arts is halted.

Natalie Pardalis and Students Surrey photographer – Nadine Inkster

Natalia Pardalis, singer, pianist, educator – owner of Pardalis Studio and founder of Maria’s Records

“The music industry is hurting right now. Our jobs depend on human interaction without social distancing. It has been amazing though watching so many musicians display such leadership skills with online performances, workshops, providing information etc.”

“Personally, I have found it very difficult as my local gigs and upcoming tour was cancelled. But more importantly, it was hard watching my music students (especially the younger ones) try to understand what is happening. We have moved lessons online to carry on which has helped greatly. I think the hardest part was watching my students’ disappointment. They were all preparing for festivals and all the festivals were either cancelled or postponed. So, a group of teachers and I have joined forces to create an online music festival to help make up for it. Music and all arts is even more important at this time.”

Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade and a promoter of Surrey as a Music city says

The Surrey Board of Trade has heard clearly from our arts and culture community members that cancellation of events, no incoming revenue, and many arts organizations not eligible for announced provincial funding will compromise their survival as an arts entity in the long term. It depends on how long COVID-19 orders are in place indicating no public gatherings or events for the safety of all British Columbians and Canadians. Some funding is available now through the federal government. But we live in an area with the highest cost of living – government subsidies simply won’t be enough for many of Surrey’s amazing arts & culture entities.

Mark Manning is an actor with MVM Agency. This crisis has put everything on the line for him.

A job I booked for a TV show is up in the air now. The production shut down and I have no idea when they will return or if I will still have a job with them when they get back. Seeing as acting is a job of opportunities, in the beginning you don’t get many. This gig would have been the last credit I needed to get full union status, it would change my life forever.

Local Singer, Songwriter, Cathrine Levan has just released her newest CD in the middle of this pandemic.

Cat Levan – New CD

I think the biggest challenge to the arts is performance arts, whose very existence depends on performing. Yes, we can do online events, but they are not paid gigs. And the complete collapse of performance events is going to bankrupt many arts organizations.”

Sami Ghawi, MBA is the Director of FUSIONpresents and the mastermind behind the Surrey Board of Trade Music City Centre.  He is the driving force behind making Surrey a Music City Destination.  He relies on live performances for income.

Sami Ghawi and his favourite fan

FUSIONpresents and its partner venues agreed to cancel all live entertainment days prior to the government’s mandate to shut down all bars and clubs as we felt it was the responsible thing to do for our community.  Live music brings so much life to social events, and artists and bands thrive on the energy of large audiences.  Therefore, as much as live music entertainment is a large portion of our business, cancelling it all was the right thing to do for the safety and consideration of everyone.  We are an organization that strives to help, and at this time, the first step in helping was not enabling the spread of this virus by bringing people together.

International DANCE sensation and local girl, Natasha Gorrie feels like her entire life has been canceled.

This effects my life financially to sustain myself. A lot of my dance gigs are for the mass numbers of people. I am a choreographer contractor work for NHL Canucks talent, BC Lions and as well as I throw events for the dance community. Every single event I run or choreograph for have been cancelled till the summer. And then when the summer comes all of the dance teaching work is done for the season. So really proper dance work won’t be coming back till the month of September 2020”

As the Executive Director of Semiahmoo Arts Society and the Community Arts Council of the Semiahmoo Peninsula, Ulee Maschaykh is knows the field well.

Like most businesses (for profit and non-profit) around the world we at Semiahmoo Arts have experienced losses: financial loss, loss of certainty, loss of revenue etc. The Rec Centre was closed only two weeks after our Annual Member Show opened. All the art work is still there, so we decided to present it online for the world to view, experience and maybe even purchase.

Patricia Dahlquist is a Surrey Civic Treasure and a singer, actor, teacher and the Founding Director of the Young People’s Opera Society of B.C.

“This Pandemic has curtailed a large part of my social life which includes support of other arts organizations in our community Seeing empty theatre seats set in motion the beginnings of a constant state of anxiety and depression. Weird for a diehard optimist! We, the leaders of non-profit arts organizations that are always delicately balanced on the edge of a financial cliff, are sensing the ruin of our vital, creative and contributive groups.”

David Geertz, who formerly booked bands into The Flamingo’s three showrooms, is a principal of Cloverdale Concerts.  He works with Dione Costanza in Penmar Community Arts Society, a group that organizes live music opportunities.  He talks about how COVID 19 has impacted his creative endeavors.

From an organization stand point we have had all of our events cancelled up until the end of August at this point. In addition to our public events we have also had to cancel some private functions that were a very large part of our revenue model.“

Many theatre groups have put a lot of money into renting space and production costs which they carry upfront on the understanding that they will recoup those costs at the time of show with ticket sales and other revenue.

Ellie King, Artistic Director of the Royal Canadian Theater Company in Surrey says

“We have lost about $50,000 in revenues which is a massive financial hit and means that we cannot in any way recover our production costs. For a small company such as ours which didn’t receive any funding from Metro Vancouver, BC Arts Council or from Canada Council this is a HUGE blow for our company.”

While she is very grateful to the support of the City of Surrey and is determined to get back on their feet and continue to provide high-value theater to the Surrey and outlying communities, she is blunt about the effect this has had on the organization.

“The cost to us has been great and the financial security we had been building has been deeply eroded.”

Blues for the Bank featuring Chris Thornley and his band

Chris Thornley is a musician and leader of a local band.  He is most famous for his Blues for the Bank concerts in Surrey.  They raise money for the food bank by donating their talents for a wonderful evening of entertainment.

“All music projects that I had on the go have been cancelled and all concerts that I was looking forward too have been postponed indefinitely ( Hall & Oats , Boz Scaggs , Pink Martini and local favourite Jim Byrnes ). One of the things I really miss is our rehearsals. With some of my friends it is as much a therapy session as it is playing music. So consequently, I have been feeling a little blue. I know this will pass.”

Actor – Michael Charrois

Michael Charrois is an actor, writer, director, instructor and professional performer who makes his living from the arts

“The majority of my work comes from live performance and teaching drama classes on contract. I usually have 5 or 6 gigs on the go at any one time to make ends meet. I have high hopes for recorded storytelling (a good time to be a singer/songwriter with an internet connection) but I have fears about the short term viability of live performances; concerts, theatre, film screenings. We can’t gather in even small groups to create and no one will want to gather in an audience until a vaccine is developed. Grim.

All of my gigs are cancelled: a touring production of Screwball Comedy presented by Surrey’s Royal Canadian Theatre; teaching recreational drama classes after school in Burnaby and Coquitlam; teaching a weekly drama class at an Independent school; teaching workshops in schools through the Evergreen Cultural Centre including On The Road visits to K B Woodward School in Surrey. The film industry is shut down, so no film work there either, including background. Bleak.

While most are trying to stay positive, many of the artists and support teams that I spoke to said that they feel they will be forced to leave the industry that they love.

We do it because we love it, it is part of who we are, but we can’t financially afford to wait for things to come back to normal. The theatre industry in particular would take a bad hit because it would lose some many people with experience due to the lack of security in this industry.”

There are many industries that are going to take a hard hit during these unsettling times but there is no industry that saved our sanity like the entertainment industry.  While we salute all of our front line workers with well-deserved adulation, when our pot-banging is over, we return to our rooms to watch movies, listen to music, read books, do puzzles or paint by number.  The arts, which has taken the largest hit, is the very thing we turn to for solace in times of trauma and uncertainty.

Next posting – Creative people are resilient. Their super power is their ability to create.  Look for tomorrow’s article and hear what have arts organizations and creative people have done to continue creating during these difficult times.

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!!!

Arts and Entertainment

Feed Your Inner Artist with Surrey Art Gallery’s Art Takeout Courses!



Surrey, BC – Explore your creativity this summer with Surrey Art Gallery’s new Art Takeout courses. These six-week hands-on, interactive programs are a fun way for all to try new mediums and artistic techniques at home. Participants pick up their course materials from Surrey Art Gallery, and each box includes art supplies, links to video lessons, and the opportunity to join in a live online session, to share artwork created.

There are two Art Takeout courses to choose from. Drawing in the Field focuses on learning and practicing drawing skills, including en plein air (in the open air drawing), art journaling, sketching, blind contour, multiple perspectives, and more! This six-week course, led by artist educator Alexandra Thomson, runs from July 20 to August 24, costs $15.

Hand Building with Clay! reimagines the sculptural possibilities of clay. Inspired by contemporary ceramic art, participants learn a variety of techniques including pinch, coil, and slab construction, as well as surface pattern techniques with artist educator Amelia Butcher. This six-week course runs from July 27 to August 31 and the $35 cost includes firing and glazing as well.

“For all ages and abilities, Surrey Art Gallery’s Art Takeout courses invite you to try new artmaking techniques while having fun with family and friends during the summer,” says Alanna Edwards, Surrey Art Gallery Engagement Facilitator. “It’s a way to still feel connected to each other and the artmaking community during this time.”

“I love the feeling of being outside, with the sky, the earth, and all the plants,” says Drawing in the Field artist educator Alexandra Thomson. “Drawing outside is an amazing feeling. I feel connected to the thing I’m drawing. It’s a really careful observation that has an almost meditative quality.”

Art Takeout boxes can be picked up from July 13 for Drawing in in the Field and July 20 for Hand Building with Clay at Surrey Art Gallery. To register for either program, phone the Call Centre at 604 501 5100, or sign up online at

About Surrey Art Gallery | Internationally recognized for its award-winning programs, Surrey Art Gallery, located at 13750 88 Avenue in Surrey, 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.

In response to the temporary closure of our exhibition and artmaking spaces, Surrey Art Gallery presents Art Together, a series of online programs that explore art and artists in the community, spark the imagination, and celebrate the ways that art can impact our lives. Although the Surrey Arts Centre is temporarily closed, Surrey Art Gallery is open online. Visit us virtually, follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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Arts and Entertainment

Stewart Farm to Offer Guided Outdoor Tours



A New Way to Experience the Heritage Site

Surrey, BC – Starting July 14, Historic Stewart Farm will offer guided outdoor tours of the popular heritage site. The new modified service follows new protocols to ensure community safety as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Visitors must pre-register, with groups limited to 10 people. Tours of the historic site will be available Tuesday to Friday afternoons from 1:00 to 3:30pm.

Registrations times will be available every thirty minutes with the final tour beginning at 3:00pm. Guests are required to pre-register online with their MySurrey account. Registration opens July 6.

“With people staying safe and closer to home this summer, I encourage Surrey residents to get out and explore all that Surrey has to offer,” said Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum. “Historic Stewart Farm’s heritage tours are a great option for families to discover our local history and enjoy some time outdoors.”

Highlights of the 30-minute outdoor tour include the 1894 Farmhouse, Pole Barn, heirloom gardens, root cellar, boat building and former threshing shed. Tours will lead visitors around the picturesque site, exploring the grounds and the history of the area, the Stewart Family, and the farm itself.

Exclusively outdoors, visitors are advised to dress for the weather to maximize their tour experience. A visit through the heritage Pole barn will be included, marked with a one-way route to ensure physical distancing. All other buildings will be closed. Historic Stewart Farm is a one-of-a-kind heritage venue located at 13723 Crescent Road within Elgin Heritage Park, along the Nicomekl River. Entrance is free.

For more information, call 604-591-4627. or visit
Follow the Farm on Facebook at @HeritageSurrey or on Instagram at @StewartFarmBC.

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Arts and Entertainment

Big Splash is Back for Another Hot Season – Social Distancing Style




TSAWWASSEN, BC – Metro Vancouver’s favourite water park is reopening for the season on Canada Day, July 1st, 2020! The 7-acre resort-inspired park features 13 body and tube waterslides for kids and adults of all ages. Due to COVID-19, the park will operate at 35% capacity with extra safety precautions to ensure everyone can enjoy their summer, safely, 7 days a week.

This year, Big Splash has made several important changes to ensure their staff and guests can feel safe while enjoying the sunshine and water slides. They will be conducting temperature checks and screenings on all employees and guests at entry. They have added hand sanitizing stations, outdoor showers, and created one-directional walkways and paths to waterslides.

There will be limits on how many people can be in a pool and hot tub at once. And this year, families will be allowed to bring in 1 cooler of food and drinks (no outside alcohol allowed). To ensure admission, guests are encouraged to book a cabana or table online for a specific date and admission tickets in the same transaction.

This is the perfect summer venue for birthday parties, family reunions, and corporate events. With a full-service cabana and tent rentals available, you can sit back and relax as you and your loved ones have fun. Big Splash offers a fully licenced bar and patio, with delicious summer-inspired cocktails and ice-cold beers on tap!

With two eateries available on site you can enjoy summer favourites made in-house with burgers, pizza, salads, poutines, fish & chips and more! “2020 has been a difficult year for many, and we hope that Big Splash can make a difference. With safety in mind, we plan to open our water park this year at 35% capacity to allow families to enjoy the sunshine and have a break while working together to flatten the curve.

We want to thank our first responders for the hard work they have been doing and want to assure our guests that we will do everything to keep our facility safe for everyone.”- Tamara Tam, Director of Operations. To learn more about the safety precautions, directions to the park, hours of operation, ticket information, ride information and more, please visit our website

About Big Splash Water Park | Owned and operated by Executive Hotels & Resorts since 2017, Big Splash Water Park is a Metro Vancouver favourite, located in sunny Tsawwassen. Offering endless fun and water activities for people of all ages, the 7-acre resort-style park has 13 water slides to choose from.

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Arts and Entertainment

Surrey Libraries Launches Takeout Service



Patrons can order books, DVDs, Summer Reading Club materials, and more.

Surrey, BC – Surrey Libraries has announced the launch of contactless Takeout service at six branches serving Surrey’s town centres. City Centre, Cloverdale, Fleetwood, Guildford, Newton, and Semiahmoo library branches will be providing the service starting June 26.

“Whether you pick up a book to enrich your personal knowledge, for your scholastic studies, or for the pure joy of reading, I know the act of holding and opening up a new book is one of the great and simple pleasures of life,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “Not everyone likes reading on digital devices and many people in our community rely on our libraries for books for themselves and their children. I am delighted that Surrey Libraries will be offering this takeout service, starting just in time for children to join in on Summer Reading Club activities.”

“The response from our community through the Resuming Library Services Survey was clear,” said Neelam Sahota, chair of the Board of Trustees of Surrey Libraries. “People are eager to borrow physical materials like books and DVDs and return the items they’ve had at home since March. However, people also told us that they’re not ready to come back into the branches for programming or browsing just yet.”

To access the service, library members can either call one of the six participating branches or fill out an online form at Patrons will be able to pick up their holds and return items when they arrange a pickup time.

Borrowers will also enjoy an extended due date of September 8 on newly borrowed materials. All materials returned to the library will be held in a 72-hour quarantine before being put back into circulation. Studies have shown that the COVID-19 virus can survive up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to 2-3 days on plastic and stainless steel; therefore, the 72-hour quarantine will provide ample time to ensure that trace amounts of virus on books and other materials are eradicated.

With regard to reopening branches, the Library is taking a phased and cautious approach. “The health and safety of our staff and patrons is our top priority as we implement our reopening plans,” said Surinder Bhogal, Chief Librarian. “We have added safety protocols such as physical distancing, quarantining materials, proper hand hygiene, frequent surface sanitization, and installing plexiglass barriers at service counters.

We remain committed to providing as much service as possible. We’ll evaluate the Takeout service and may extend to other branches, and we’re working toward reopening some library branches after Labour Day.”

For people who enjoy digital materials, Surrey Libraries has tripled the number of eBooks and eAudiobooks ordered each month, substantially increased the size of the eSuperloan collection, and launched weekly titles available without holds for quicker access to new reading material and popular titles.

For more information, visit

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Arts and Entertainment

Summer is Back at Arts Umbrella



Due to COVID-19, our original Summer Camp schedule was made obsolete. This, however, did not stop us from continuing to evolve and adapt our curriculum to new learning environments. Our new summer offerings include a mix of online learning and in-studio classes that accommodate new safety measures as approved by the Province of BC. Our classes follow the same excellent curriculum and high-quality instruction that Arts Umbrella is known for. Below is a snapshot of our offerings.

Art & Design

From Drawing & Painting, to Mixed Media, to Cartooning and Comic Creation, we’re offering a mix of small in- person studio classes and online programs to provide young people with visual arts skills and techniques, as well as inspire new levels of creativity. We are also offering an online Drawing & Painting Intensive for teens (13-19) in August. In this program, artist-instructors will guide students in independent research into artists and history.

From that, inspiration and knowledge will inform students to create original works at home during online classes. Participants will also investigate the ideas in their work, while refining fundamental skills such as composition, design, and colour theory. In conversation with their peers, students will also explore and practice constructive critique.


We have reduced class sizes for our Junior and Teen Summer Dance Intensives. As always, this program features classes in ballet, character, modern, repertoire, and jazz with special guest instructors and Arts Umbrella faculty. These Intensives offer young dancers a comprehensive way to maintain fitness and prepare for regular classes in September.

Theatre & Music

From Acting to Musical Theatre, and Shakespeare to Puppetry, our Summer Session Theatre & Music classes give young artists a strong foundation for further classes. We also offer a number of in-person and online Intensives in for more experienced students. Whether students are interested in acting for the stage or film and TV, these programs can help bring their skills to the next level.

This year, we’re also offering some new online programs for students who want to further their singing and musical theatre skills: Song Study, Voice Lessons, and Curbside Cabaret.

Arts Umbrella is back for Summer, with classes starting July 6, 2020. Registration is now open for online, outdoor, and small in-person classes at:

Over the past few months, Arts Umbrella has been testing innovative ways to bring arts education to young people through online programs. This summer, children, youth, and teens can take online classes in Art & Design, and Theatre & Music. In addition to the online experience, Arts Umbrella will also be open for some small in-person classes in a safe studio environment.

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