Does Surrey have the strength to become a creative city? First in a series

The front page of Surrey's plan to promote the creative sector in the city.

The front page of Surrey’s plan to promote the creative sector in the city.

As the second largest city in B.C., Surrey has been putting effort into either developing or increasing strategic sectors of its economy in order to make a positive, independent growth alongside Vancouver.

Over a series of stories, we will be presenting a panorama of the Creative Economy sector globally, nationally and locally and asking what it means for Surrey and how the city is working to develop this prosperous sector, which is already well established in places like UK and Australia.

Recently, the B.C. Liberal government announced $6.25 million in funding to support arts-related people across the province, which shows the interest in this area of the economy, commonly referred as Creative Industries, or by emphasizing the sector, the Creative Economy.

But what does that mean for Surrey?

During the first event promoted by the Surrey Board of Trade, The Creative Economy Summit Panel in July, Catherine Murray, a communications professor from SFU, said that what makes Surrey strong is the fact that it is a young city. Although that might seem to be a negative point, being a young city has its advantages. According to Murray, being young provides a good opportunity for entrepreneurs and business-related people to invest in sectors such as the arts.

It’s not news that Vancouver has been put under a lot of pressure when it comes to the arts. Its streets, galleries and theatres are full, pushing artists and investors out of the city and into the edges. This could mark a turning point for Surrey.

Since 2008, stimulated by a white paper written by Murray, the city has made efforts to make the creative economy sector a reality. Poaching companies and attracting federal funds are some of those efforts. Major capital projects are in progress, such as the Surrey Library; the Surrey Central expansion, which includes a new performing arts facility; an arts expansion to South Surrey Rec Centre; and others.

In 2011, a City Cultural Plan was created. Some of the objectives are:

  • develop six community Public Art Plans, identifying sites and themes for public art in Cloverdale, South Surrey, Newton, Surrey City Centre, Guildford and Fleetwood
  •  compile an inventory of public and private sector cultural assets, services and facilities in Surrey; identifying evident gaps and needs
  • identify needs, opportunities, space and operational requirements for a decentralized model of arts and heritage City-wide services

That’s a brief look at Surrey and Creative Economy sector. Over the course of this series, we’ll be exploring the concepts and facts behind this story. We’ll be interviewing specialists, showing statistics and mapping Surrey strategies and needs. The importance of the Creative Industries to many countries’ GDPs, including Canada’s, is already known. What this means for Surrey is to be explored.

Joao Vitor Correa

Journalism student from Brazil; passionate about writing, photography and videography.


  • Kait Huziak
    Reply October 7, 2013

    Kait Huziak

    In comparison to Abbotsford, while Surrey does have the upper hand in the sense of local population and accessibility to other lower mainland residents, I can’t help but wonder if how many of these developments won’t meet their projected demands, much like the failing Abbotsford Entertainment Center.
    I commend their effort though!

  • […] Does Surrey have the strength to become a creative city? First in a series […]

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