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How Important are the Arts to our Mental Health?



Part 2 – Covid and the Arts – How much have you used art over the last few weeks?  Music, Movies, Paint-by Number, Knitting, Writing?  How has the arts assisted you in your struggle for mental health during these stressful times?

While those who work in the creative fields are all too painfully aware of how serious this is for them and for the industry they also recognize how vital the arts are to our sanity during these stressful days and like all true entertainers, they continue regardless of the problems.  This is the reason “the show must go on” was written.  In times of stress and uncertainty, art and all that it offers is the key to lowering our stress level which in turn improved our general health.

“When asked how important the arts are during these times of stress, the artists all shared the idea that the arts are the very thing that keeps us all sane.

We may find an appreciation for it now more than ever”, says Ulee Mascheykh.   “Now is a good time to perceive art (listen to music, buy a painting, watch musicals or read a good book) but also to make art.  Research has shown the health benefits of art on out mental health. So if we can find an appreciation of art in all its scope we learn its value now and in eternity.”

Dancer and choreographer,  Natasha Gorrie reminds us all that the arts are important to managing stress.

I have students that tune into my Instagram live who are nurses.  They tell me that my classes really help them de-stress from a very stressful workload in general but especially at times like these.  Dance helps with mental health and to get away from problems momentarly in a healthy positive way. Dance helps me express what I have no words for.  It makes me feel a part of something greater than myself.”

It isn’t just about de-stressing.  There is an economic reality to the arts.

The Surrey Board of Trade is one of the few chambers of commerce/boards of trade that consider the arts as an integral part of the city’s economic development strategy.  An investment in the arts even during these times is integral to ensuring our community’s culture thrives and survives.  I have been very impressed with the online music concerts by our local musicians, for example.  We all need to experience music, arts that will heal our soul.”

A strong arts sector is an economic asset that stimulates business activity, attracts tourism and expands the work force and tax base. The arts have been shown to be a successful and sustainable strategy for revitalizing cities.  And after COVID-19, Surrey will need some revitalization.

The arts foster physical, mental and emotional health, aiding recovery processes and contributing to well-being.

Anita Huberman, CEO Surrey Board of Trade


Penmar Community Arts Society founder,  David Geertz points out..

In this time of Covid-19, arts are bringing people together in a different way, and providing distraction, enjoyment and comfort in a difficult time. In our organization, arts and music have been a way to bridge communication and collaboration between businesses and performers and have opened dialogue between artists, venues and other businesses within communities. Local live shows can provide entertainment and culture and are a way to grow community-based businesses and stimulate local spending.”


Michael Charrois knows only to well have the arts impact the young students he works with.

We can see the importance of entertainment and storytelling when we’re all trapped inside in need of diversion and education. I think we will come out of this crisis with a continued love and respect for recorded, streamed, broadcast and on line entertainment. Film production will have to adjust to working in smaller groups and performers may have to prove their vaccination history, if/when a vaccine for this pestilence becomes available, in order to work. With any luck, I have hope that I can work performing in the film industry.

Young People’s Opera Society

Patricia Dahlquist of the Young People Opera Society says,

“There is an abundance of evidence that the arts are essential during trying times. Music, Theatre, Dance, Painting, Sculpture and Fabric arts are sources of comfort and allay the debilitating effects of the stress disorder associated with widespread emergencies and global upheavals.  The very act of expressing private emotions through manifesting any art form expiates fear.”

Todd Davies is a local writer and independent film maker who believes in escapism as a tool to help deal with real stress.

“The arts are always important no matter what the circumstances even more so in times like these. The arts ,whether it be music, movies, poetry, literature etc, provide us a level of solace, escapism, and joy. It can lift our spirits if only briefly and restore us in the face of such calamity as we face right this moment.”

Perhaps we can all take a moment to thank our favourite artist, musician or writer for the gift they have given us during this time.  The world over, we turn to music for comfort, film for distraction, books for education and escapism.  When we were told to stay home, we bought toilet paper, liquor and ART.  Tons of it.  From online subscriptions to magazines to music to Netflix and other streaming devices, we devour art like the snacks we are living on and why?  Because it is essential to our mental well being and we need to thank the artists for that.

Covid19 has changed the face of business, non-profit, volunteerism and the arts for good. In our next instalment artists talk about how this has changed the industry, some say for the good and some say in a negative way.  

Arts groups and artists have had to adapt in order to rise to the challenge of this time.  In each their own way, they have taken this time to find ways to reach new audiences, rethink their business model and create in a new way.

As an independent film maker, Todd Davies has found ways to fill his days.

 “Gratefully some aspects of the artistic endeavours can be done electronically for example: some pre-productions details can be handled over the internet so at least when this situation blows over we can get back to the creativity as soon as possible.  Also writing is something I can do anywhere, so I retain some sense of creativiety, thank god.”

Patirica Dahlquist says

“The Young People’s Opera Society, like many other groups have stepped up in creative ways to reach out to their members and supporters with emails, What’s App and Zoom.  Using these online tools, groups continue to work on rehearsals and private sessions.

While many productions have been cancelled, many organizations, with great optimism, are postpoing productions until the Summer or Fall”

Sami Ghawi works with a number of musicians and is always looking for an opportunity to find a new audience.

Now more than ever people need to be entertained as they are essentially stuck at home trying to find things to do, watching Netflix and browsing their social feeds.  Musicians and artists need to take full advantage of this opportunity.  Days after we cancelled all live entertainment, we made a post on our socials encouraging all artists in our online community to make as much content as possible and share it with the world.  We’ve already released multiple videos online in the last two weeks and have a packed schedule of collaboration videos coming up with the artists we work with.  We also moved our Sunday Night Jam ito a live stream on Facebook, and our patron community was very thankful that we’re still here for them.  As an artist development company, we also help many aspiring artists develop their musicality and music business. We are very grateful that we’ve been able to convert all our sessions online.”

Royal Canadian Theatre Company’s Creative Director, Ellie King is still facing an uphill battle.

“We will continue to plan for next season, but right now it is completely up in the air as to whether or not that can proceed. Given the huge loss we have sustained and the uncertainty of venues being open it is extremely stressful trying to walk the line between being prepared and spending money that might not be able to be recouped. For now, we are proceeding as if the season will go ahead as usual.”

Natasha Gorrie also remains optimistic as she reached out to the people she knows in her arts community

“Talk to leaders in other communities to see what their small business plans are. Try to come up with multiple strategies for whatever outcomes are to come of all off this. I now provide free dance classes online to keep people dancing and in spiritsas well as to keep brand awareness.”

Ulee Maschaykh from the Semiahmoo Arts Society can find  positives.

“The COVID19 crisis challenges us to think differently.  To come up with sophisticated solutions to bring the arts to the public in different ways, such as online.  Maybe there is a blessing in disguise: by going virtural we open up the artwork of our members to a broader audience, even international.

In his 1935-essay, Walter Benjamin noted how the visual arts is not able to be received as a simultaneous collective by everyone at once.  I believe, through going online and showing at shows and gallery openings on the internet that notion will change.  It will bring people closer.  After all, art is primarily about content and meaning.  Imagine a Vancouverite can view Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa at the same time as someone in Zimbabwe or New Zealand.  How exciting is that?”

So whether it be dance or writing or live theatre, artists, being the resilient creative thinkers that they are, are already working on finding a way to break through.  For many this is the biggest challenge they have faced in their career and it can be discouraging.  A word of encouragement to your favourite artist would go a long way.  Contact somebody today and remind them of how much their artistic contribution enhances your life.

Next – Part Three – Like our lives, the Arts have changed as a result of COVID 19.  Here artists predict the future.  Will be attend festivals again? Live theatre? Will Life go back to normal and what will normal look like for us and our relationship to the arts?

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

7 shows you didn’t know were filmed in Surrey



shows filmed in Surrey
The Good Doctor isn't the only big show to film in Surrey (ABC / Art Streiber)

The city has been a prime location for many famous TV shows. Here is a list of some of our favourite shows filmed in Surrey.


You’ll be surprised to know that the hit Netflix series Riverdale has filmed some scenes in Surrey, along with other famous places across BC like Rocko’s Diner and the Twilight Drive-In Theatre. The most notable place in Surrey is Bear Creek Park where in Season 5 the football workout scene was filmed. 


The Flash

Not to be confused with the movie featuring Ezra Miller (who knows what’s happening with the DC movies anyway?), CW’s The Flash has also filmed around Surrey and the Lower Mainland. You can see many familiar places like Surrey City Hall and Central City Mall. 


Turner & Hooch (2021)

While this show may claim to take place in San Francisco, and it’ll do everything it can to convince you it was filmed there, this remake starring Josh Peck was filmed right here in BC. Specifically, the exterior of the police station that Turner works at is Surrey City Hall. You can even see the evidence of the Take Five afe right outside. 



The DC movie universe just seems to love filming in Surrey. Peacemaker, starring everyone’s favourite John Cena, filmed scenes in Surrey. 


The Good Doctor

Surrey’s City Hall can be seen in The Good Doctor as the exterior of the San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital. Now why they wouldn’t use the actual Surrey Memorial Hospital as a hospital is beyond us. 


The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has used a couple of different locations in Surrey for filler shots like in Redwood Park for scenes in the woods. But it also converted a closed storefront into Cerberus Books, a bookstore from the series. Without the signs, it may be difficult to locate, but you can find the building used for this bookstore at 5657 176 St. 


The Stand

Based on the book of the same name by Steven King, The Stand was also filmed in Surrey. Starring Whoopi Goldberg, Alexander Skarsgård, and James Marsden (yes, this is the guy from Sonic the Hedgehog), this story takes place “After the world is in ruins, due to a man-made plague,” and “a battle of biblical proportions ensues between the survivors.” It shot scenes throughout BC, but most notably is the Pacific Inn Resort, which was used to film interior shots for the Flagg Hotel in the show.

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Arts and Entertainment

Famous Wrestler ‘Shakes Up’ Surrey Artifact Collection



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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Arts and Entertainment

A Symbol of Welcome at Museum of Surrey



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.

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.

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.

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

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Arts and Entertainment

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



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.

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Arts and Entertainment

Shake Up: Preserving What We Value



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 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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