Tourism, Arts & Culture

The creative economy Is worth 2.8% of Canada’s GDP (2016) and employed 3.5% of the 18.5 million jobs in the country. In BC, that’s worth $7.2 billion (that’s with a B) or 2.9% of the provincial GDP. Has that caught your attention? It did the Surrey Board of Trade. The Tourism, Arts & Culture team was formed out of several dialogues and panels that SBOT hosted in the past 10 years or more, to specifically address the issues that arise and to promote Surrey as the destination for tourists and those who enjoy art, music, theatre, books, and much more.

Team Mandate

  1. Facilitate opportunities and incentives for the business community to invest in and support the arts.
  2. Creative industry growth – growing indigenous arts organizations and attracting business in the tourism, arts and culture industries
  3. Increase awareness of existing tourism, arts and culture assets
  4. Host the Annual Surrey Arts & Business Awards
  5. Advocate to local, provincial and federal governments for tourism, arts & culture issues

Terms of Reference

For more information or to join, contact Policy Coordinator Jasroop Gosal.


Music Cities

The team has struck a task force to develop a strategic plan to turn Surrey into a Music City destination. Their work will be posted on the Music Cities Website. They will be using the Music-Cities-Toolkit as their guide.

Creative Economy Benchmark study

The team is gathering demographic and other data to develop a measurable means of demonstrating how much value the creative economy creates for Surrey.

Media Releases

Surrey Board of Trade Disappointed with City of Surrey’s Financial Plan and Budget for 2019 

Surrey Board of Trade and FUSIONpresents Open Surrey Music City Centre Office

Resources & Presentations

These links and reports are for information as they may not reflect SBOT’s formal positions or policies.

2018 City of Surrey’s Parks, Recreation & Culture Strategic 10 Year Plan Presentation

2018 City of Surrey’s Parks, Recreation & Culture Strategic 10 Year Plan

2017 Arts & Civic Engagement Report

2017 Arts& Heritage Access Report

2016 How are Canadians Doing Rpt

Creative City Summit: October 17-19, 2016


The issue: City of Surrey Cultural Grants

What it’s about: Since the inception of the Surrey Cultural Grants in 2013 the City of Surrey has increased the amounts available each year.  While that is a positive trend research into Arts and Culture Grants in the region indicate that Surrey’s Grant structure should be measured on a per capita basis for clarity in comparison with


neighbouring jurisdictions.


Council faces great challenges in ensuring competing priorities are met however the Cultural Grant programs is one of the few that will return dividends to the City with increased economic activity created by the Arts and Cultural Community.  The standard ratio estimated for economic impact is a 3-1 return on investment as per the Hills Strategies Report “Artists and Cultural Workers in Canadian Municipalities”


  1. Research across Canada bears out this economic impact. “The Alberta Arts Foundation, the provincial body that gives grants to artists, estimates that the 500 arts organizations it funded with $35 million in grants in 2009 created $235 million in direct economic activity, including 1,344 full-time positions and more than 4,000 part-time jobs.” Alberta Venture 2010
  2. While Artists and Cultural Workers receive an annual salary lower that the average salary across Canada they are much more heavily concentrated in cities of 500,000 or more and will be an increasing economic force as Surrey grows.

Comparison with other jurisdictions:

  1. The inability to compare per capita spending on Arts and Cultural projects is the basis for this request.


  1. The City re-evaluate the current level of cultural grants in the context of per capita amounts across the Metro Vancouver region.
  2. Surrey review the limits to grants to Surrey Based Arts and Culture groups and establish a limit that will assist in developing established and long lasting impact on the Cultural development of Surrey.
  3. The City expands its expenditure disclosures in support of Arts and Culture within the Recreation budget report process to allow for greater clarity of the budget dollars flowing to Arts and Culture.
  4.  The City of Surrey separate Parks & Recreation and create a new Cultural Department.

The issue: Establishing a business role in fostering and developing arts and culture in Surrey

What it’s about: Through a series of events, the Surrey Board of Trade and the City of Surrey have made a commitment to foster, enhance, and expand the development of the rich human, cultural, and natural resources of the community resulting in a more competitive economy in what is one of Canada’s most livable communities. At the


heart of this vision is a simple question: What can arts and culture do for the economy, and what can business do for arts and culture?

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: Facilitated an information event in partnership with the City of Surrey to identify benefits for the business community.

The result: Successful event staged with issues fully explored.  Will require ongoing advocacy amongst membership and various government levels.

The issue: Surrey Cultural Plan.

What it’s about: The City of Surrey Cultural Plan Group asked for feedback from Surrey’s business community, more specifically from the Surrey Board of Trade. As business leaders, we have a vested interest and share in the responsibility to ensure the survival and expansion of Surrey’s art, heritage and cultural landscape. This is


especially true in today’s economic climate when non-profit arts organizations are dependent more than ever on the private sector for support. The Surrey Board of Trade’s response is critical to maintaining a well-rounded, diverse and economically healthy community.

From an economic standpoint, the arts are a major attraction for new and existing business and also to both residents and visitors as an important source of employment and tax revenue for Surrey. Patrons of the arts buy tickets to our museums, theatres and galleries, dine in our restaurants, sleep in our hotels, and shop in our malls. Cultural and artistic venues also add to the diversity of attractions that we can offer visitors and help make us an attractive destination. There is also a significant increase in spending from “cultural tourists,” compared to tourists who don’t attend an arts event.

A thriving arts and cultural scene also contributes to a better quality of life and is essential for attracting and retaining a skilled workforce. Businesses are dependent upon having employees who can think creatively, solve problems and communicate effectively. The arts are essential for this type of development and our communities must offer the cultural lifestyle that workforces demand and businesses require in order to relocate to Surrey.

The arts also have a significant impact on the positive social, emotional and cognitive development of children. As more school boards face pressure to cut budgets, the need to maintain area art and cultural venues becomes even more pressing as they may be the only places where our youth can participate in the arts.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: Issued recommendations and a Surrey Board of Trade Cultural Action Plan.

The result: Support for the arts is a sound investment — one that provides significant returns in the form of stabilized and revitalized communities. Here are some ways that the Surrey Board of Trade can take a leadership approach in its communication to Surrey’s business community so that businesses can make a positive difference. We launched this at the Surrey Board of Trade and City of Surrey Business Arts & Culture Reception in 2011.

Ask businesses to:

  1. Provide monetary and in-kind donations. The Surrey Board of Trade, also a non-profit, can provide (and currently does provide) in-kind marketing support to certain arts events/programs.
  2. Provide the time and resources for employees to serve on non-profit boards and encourage the support of business voluntarism.
  3. Participate in corporate sponsorships of a cultural event.
  4. Help bring arts organizations together for collaborative and/or cross-promotional events or initiatives.
  5. Provide art classes for employees or hire an arts organization to educate children during school breaks, Bring Your Child to Work Day and others.
  6. Donate office space to an arts organization or provide lobby space for an arts exhibition.
  7. Use cultural venues for corporate events, meetings and parties.
  8. Purchase artwork and tickets to local performances and exhibitions and donate them to other non-profits — a paying it forward tactic.
  9. Tell clients and vendors about your affiliation’s as they might want to lend a hand, too.
  10. Advocate politicians at all government levels to support arts funding.

When arts funding is reduced, it undermines a sector that is a cornerstone of economic, and childhood development. It is more important than ever for businesses to rally together to support our local treasures.

The Surrey Board of Trade suggested the following:

  1. As 1/3 of Surrey’s population is under the age of 19, and that the theme of the city is to have a city that caters to families, the concept of creating safe Adventure Playgrounds can be researched.
  2. Creating Cultures of the Night, that is the place of arts and culture in defining the night-time life of cities.  Over the last two decades, urban policy-makers, novelists, scholars of culture and activists have come to think, in new and interesting ways, about the urban night. the night is now seen as central to the cultural life of cities.
  3. From an Economic Perspective, the Surrey Board of Trade wants to see Surrey alive with culture. Every corner of the city should be bursting with cultural and artistic activity – with neighbourhood dance troupes and community theater, jazz and blues musicians and symphony orchestras, sculptors, painters and writers – all contributing to the great excitement and ethnic diversity that makes Surrey so remarkable.
  4. Tourism- an effective, energetic marketing of Surrey cultural activities (that cater to a diverse audience) can further increase the tremendous contribution that culture makes to the city’s economy. Create an international reputation of Surrey as an arts centre in attracting conventions and tourists. In the end, the need for a convention centre in Surrey will be realized. The richness of our cultural activities is an important economic resource to develop. Restaurants, hotels, transportation industries, parking garages and retail businesses all profit from a dynamic and well-marketed “Surrey Culture”. Surrey’s Tourism Association has a role to play in this area. Some ideas are: assist and train cultural organizations to develop cooperative promotions to targeted tourism markets; create a task force to encourage and promote cultural tourism; create and market a “Surrey Card,” an all-purpose admission card that tourists/visitors could use at a variety of the city’s attractions.
  5. Establish Cultural Enterprise Zones in which commercial and nonprofit cultural organizations have clustered office spaces, rehearsal and performance spaces, retail boutiques and galleries, along with studio and living spaces for individual artists. There would be initial tax incentives and subsidies to attract cultural organizations and private investors. Such zones have been successfully established in Seattle.
  6. Public Art demonstrates a city’s commitment to bring beauty to its citizen’s everyday lives. This can be aligned to Surrey’s heritage.
  7. Arts & Education – Elementary and Secondary Schools: The arts should be an integral part of schooling and reestablished as a priority. We must advocate increased arts funding in education budgets. The city needs to provide resources in the education budget to fund student access to a wide variety of cultural resources — such as museums, performing and visual arts — and to fund development of educational arts materials designed for the students.