Surrey First mayoral candidate Tom Gill: Arts, culture and entertainment key to a vibrant city

Tom Gill
Photo: Surrey First

SURREY First mayoral candidate Tom Gill on Thursday outlined his team’s plans to showcase and grow the arts, culture and entertainment in Surrey.

Joined by council candidates Vera LeFranc and Narima Dela Cruz, Gill said Surrey First will create an endowment fund to kick-start plans for a world class performing arts centre, double arts and culture grants, develop a contemporary art gallery in South Surrey and use the “maker space” planned for the new Clayton Community Centre as a model for more artist work spaces across the city.

“Great cities, the ones we all admire, have a strong and vibrant creative side and Surrey is no different,” said Gill. “We have a very creative arts and cultural community in Surrey. We want to encourage that talent and see it flourish right across our city. For instance, the performing arts centre will be a creative hub for Surrey, a destination for our region and an anchor for a vibrant new entertainment district.”

Gill said he would commit $1 million annually over the next five years to an arts and culture endowment fund as a way of launching plans for the performing arts centre, including developing a detailed financial and fundraising case that would include other levels of government and local philanthropists with a passion for the arts. Gill first introduced the performing arts centre at his campaign launch.

The 1,200-seat performing arts centre would include a smaller 200-seat theatre and rehearsal space, expanded lobby for receptions, meeting space for conferences and a privately-run signature restaurant. The preliminary 240,000 sq ft concept is estimated at $245 million.

“The performing arts centre would be a catalyst for a vibrant entertainment district in and around city centre and a major attraction for those of us in Surrey as well as visitors from across the region,” said Gill. “I’d like to see us spend the next four years pulling the business case together, finding the right partners and securing funding. There’s a lot of work to do, but I believe we can have our performing arts centre open within 10 years. But, the time to start is now.”

Narima Dela Cruz

Council candidate Narima Dela Cruz lives in city centre and said Surrey First’s commitment to the arts comes from the genuine belief that art and culture can “transform communities” and add value to the entire city.

“The performing arts centre will be an exciting addition to our city and something everyone will enjoy,” said Dela Cruz. “When you add it to our new city hall, the growing university district and the thousands of people who are calling city centre home its easy to see why there’s such a great fit.”

Incumbent councillor Vera LeFranc echoed Gill’s enthusiasm for Surrey’s creative potential and said Surrey First would double arts and culture grants from $500,000 to $1 million annually over the next five years.

Vera LeFranc

“Creativity helps define a city and the creative economy is a growing part of our community,” said LeFranc. “Expanding arts and culture programs is also a wonderful way to engage our children and teens. It fits perfectly with our anti-gang plans and like free access to our pools, rinks and gyms, our arts and culture programs are a really positive way to reach out and protect our kids.”

Gill said the contemporary art gallery in South Surrey represents much-needed gallery space for Surrey artists.

“Art is meant to be seen,” said Gill. “The new gallery in South Surrey is an important part of our art and culture platform because it goes a long way to giving Surrey’s artists the space they need to showcase their talent. At the same time, the addition of ‘maker space’ at the Clayton Community Centre will promote collaboration between artists and is a terrific model for more working spaces at other centres around the city. When you knit all of these creative pieces together it represents a long-term commitment that will encourage the tremendous talent that calls Surrey home.”


  1. Hmmm… Has this been thought through carefully- as part of a long-term (15 to 20 years minimum) cultural “plan” for the city of Surrey??

    Or is it just another pre-election gimmick- designed to paint a false-image of Tom Gill and his Surrey First colleagues??

    Either way, Mr Gill’s “commitment” is grievously lacking in ambition, and falls far short of what Surrey needs to do to bring itself up to the standards of the only other competitor city in BC- the city of Vancouver…

    Surrey needs leaders that will act to have performance venues that are comparable to the city of Vancouver’s world-class theatres and performance spaces- such as the Orpheum, Queen Elizabeth Theatre, and Vancouver Playhouse…
    “Parks, recreation, and culture “:

    Compare the slick, highly professional city of Vancouver website- linked-to directly above, with the “grade 7 student project” appearance of the city of Surrey’s laughably amateurish website (that has NOT changed or been upgraded in almost 10-years!!):

    “Culture & Recreation”:

    Over the next several years, Vancouver’s aged, inadequate-sized Art Gallery is to be replaced with a new- AMBITIOUSLY DESIGNED $350-million dollar facility… to be partially funded by BC and federal govt grants:

    The incoming (after Oct 20th election) city of Surrey council should be aiming just as high, preferably higher, in their priority and objective setting for the city’s arts and culture environment…

  2. is there a dedicated website where we can ask pertinent questions to each candidate?
    For me we need to address HOMELESSNESS AND POVERTY, then health care before getting so much involved in expenses in culture and arts. I do visit the art galleries and museums, but I need to be fed and housed before I can enjoy all these pleasures…

    I am a member of the SURREY SENIOR PLANNING TABLE.

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