Surrey, ‘the future lives here.’ Right?

Surrey has been in the process of rethinking its economy.

In specific, changes have been seen across the city, thanks – but not exclusively – to the federal government’s designation of Surrey, in 2008, as the cultural capital of the year.

The arts sector has been in ascent, riding a vibrant wave.

For instance, big festivals have put the city in the spotlight. The Fusion Festival is now established as an annual event, celebrating over 60 different cultures with food, music and dance. It, along with the WinterFest and many others, cheer the city up through multicultural celebration.

And multiculturalism is the key to the changes that yet are up to come, as “culture should not only be considered as a means (or a barrier) to achieve economic growth but also as a factor of social cohesion and human development,” wrote Hendrik van der Pol in the report “Key role of cultural and creative industries in the economy.”

When you have a community built on a diverse population, where many voices can be heard and many options can be up to be chosen by investors, you have the means and ways to achieve economic success.

And this is what Katherine Murray, Simon Fraser University researcher, made clear in 2008 in her white paper, “Edge Cities: competitive and collaborative Creative Economy strategies for Surrey.”

The research was presented at the annual Surrey Regional Economic Summit and one of the things that was emphasized is that the city should not be limited by the Cultural Plan, but should be open to work with as many cultural strategies as possible in order to explore the city’s potential.

So rethinking the creative economy in the city has been a Number One preoccupation of the city and the relevant organizations.

At this year’s Surrey Regional Economic Summit the arts will continue to be a strong focus of discussion, as they will the next Surrey Creative Economy business dialogue on Nov. 27.

Creative Industries – an umbrella term for many kinds of industries related to arts, technology and communications – is a new concept. Since the 1990s, when the concept was introduced in the United Kingdom, lots of efforts around the solidification and development of the area have been made and spread worldwide, mostly in the English-speaking countries.

But when it comes to measuring them and the impact of culture in the economy, and how it functions among other sectors, things become unclear.

“Not only do varying definitions and categorizations often make information incomparable, as we have already seen, but data is also frequently scarce or at best incomplete. Furthermore, there is a widespread lack of resources and expertise to ensure high quality statistical work, especially in the developing world, as data collection on the creative sector remains a low priority area for many countries”, Hendrik wrote.

Statistics Canada provides only a broad range of research showcasing, among others: the economic contribution of the culture sector to Canada’s provinces; culture employment in a North American context; federal, provincial and territorial government expenditures on culture; and understanding culture consumption in Canada.

Whether the future lives in Surrey or not, what comes to matter for the city right now is how to measure its needs and make sure the future can be guaranteed by making the right moves now.

Joao Vitor Correa

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

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