Twelve finalists for the 2021 Surrey Arts & Business Awards have been revealed ahead of the Oct. 12 event.
Now in their fifth year, the annual awards are hosted by Surrey Board of Trade as part of the organization’s “cultural industry strategy.”
“Arts and culture industry enhances the livability of a city,” said Anita Huberman, SBOT’s president and CEO. “We need the arts now more than ever – for our city’s economic development, for our mental health, for our creativity.”
Finalists in four award categories were announced Friday (Sept. 24), including Comfort Adesuwa Ero (African Stages Society), Joy Chapman, Lilah Fitzgerald, Fraser Valley Musical Theatre, Semiahmoo Arts Society, Surrey Youth Orchestra, Sandeep Johal, Nela Hallwas (XBa School of Dance), Young People’s Opera Society, Glisha Dela Cruz, Josh Bogert and Luv Randhawa.
Their submitted biographies and awards categories are posted below.
The 2021 Philanthropy Award recipient will also be announced during the online awards broadcast, sponsored by Scotiabank, Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Tien Sher Group of Companies.
(Story continues below)
Cultural Ambassador award finalists:
Comfort Adesuwa Ero/African Stages Society
“Since she arrived in Canada over 20 years ago, Comfort Ero has used hundreds of storytelling and artistic events to foster inclusive schools and communities across British Columbia, including Victoria, Burnaby, Vancouver, and Surrey for the past 15 years. One of her most successful endeavours is the afterschool homework club for children of immigrants and refugees. She has also successfully led the Story-Powering Youth Program (SPOY), which uses story-based workshops to help youth deal with social exclusion positively. Comfort is an award-winning author of several works of literature in English and French. Among them are La Fuite and The Diary of an African Woman. In 2019, the Legislative Assembly of BC publicly recognized her work with youth. In the same year, she won the Storysaver Award of the Storytellers of Canada / Conteurs du Canada.”
“Joy Chapman is the new Guinness World Record holder for Lowest Female Vocal Note. A singer/songwriter hailing from Surrey, Joy showed an aptitude for songwriting and singing as she grew up listening to her mother’s work as a music teacher. Apart from her songwriting skills, Joy has also caught the audience’s attention with her deep low voice, often likened to that of Anne Murray or Toni Braxton. Her musical talent has given her many opportunities, such as being on tour with Legends International in 2014- 2020, her Diva Tribute show, main-stage performances at the PNE, and has caught Nashville’s attention.”
“Lilah Fitzgerald is an accomplished ballerina and actress who has travelled to various cities across North America and Europe for film sets, theatre performances, film festivals and premieres. Still, she always returns home to the community she loves and appreciates on the shores of Crescent Beach in Surrey. Lilah travelled with the Los Angeles Ballet company for their 2016 Nutcracker run, dancing a featured role in all 14 performances of the tour. Andrew Brader choreographed Lilah for a feature role in the Joffrey Ballet School’s Texture performance in New York City. Recently, she danced as an apprentice company member in Coastal City Ballet’s 2020/21 season. Lilah was a series regular on the TV show Date, My Dad, alongside Barry Watson and Raquel Welch. She has been in multiple feature films, including Seventh Son with Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore and Every Thing Will Be Fine with James Franco, directed by Wim Wenders. Lilah won an LEO Award for her lead role in A Girl’s Best Friend. Next up for her is the part of Annie in the Sony Pictures feature film Honey Girls releasing on October 19, 2021.”
Fraser Valley Musical Theatre
“Fraser Valley Musical Theatre, formerly Fraser Valley Gilbert & Sullivan Society, has spent the last 39 years bringing high-quality musical theatre to tens of thousands of people in Surrey. Whether light opera, pantomime, or Broadway musical, the productions are hilarious, fast-paced and fun. In ‘normal’ years, the premium pantomime of the Christmas season is followed by a springtime major musical. This pattern has won the hearts of many, along with countless awards and accolades. During the pandemic, Fraser Valley Musical Theatre learned to adapt and still be exceptional. Thus, the very successful Fairy-Tale Mysteries Radio Show was born and made available at fvgss.org and on podcast apps. The society’s 40th anniversary will kick off with Cole Porter’s Anything Goes at the Surrey Arts Centre on July 2, 2022.”
Semiahmoo Arts Society
“Semiahmoo Arts is an umbrella organization dedicated to supporting the arts in White Rock and South Surrey. Their vision is ‘Arts for Everyone’; this means equity, inclusion, and diversity. Traditionally focused on the visual, performing, and literary arts, they have always promoted community arts outreach programs. Through the pandemic they rapidly expanded their online presence with virtual gallery shows and online classes. They are now integrating their expanded online presence with centre-based in-person activities. South Surrey is becoming a more diverse community and they have embraced that diversity by reaching out to local First Nations, South Asian and Mandarin-speaking communities. From arts advocacy to mentorship, Semiahmoo Arts provides a space for the local arts community to grow and prosper.”
Surrey Youth Orchestra
“The Surrey Youth Orchestra has proudly served the Surrey community as a non-profit organization for over 45 years. Today, the Surrey Youth Orchestra, under the guidance of Artistic Director Joel Stobbe, provides high-calibre music education for developing young talents aged 8 – 20 years old. There are four orchestras, Prelude Strings, Intermezzo Strings, Symphonic Strings and Senior Orchestra, grouped by the student’s musical grade. Students meet each week to rehearse with their conductor in preparation for annual concerts, chamber music concerts, and community performances. Students learn a wide variety of repertoire ranging from classical to modern, thus providing experience while performing alongside their friends.”
Arts & Innovation Award:
“Sandeep Johal is a multidisciplinary visual artist who engages in drawing, collage, textiles, and large-scale mural painting. Through her Indo-folk-feminine aesthetic, Johal typically communicates the stories of women. Though she highlights female suffering in its many forms, these are ultimately stories of resistance and resilience. Johal has worked on notable projects with the Vancouver Art Gallery, Burrard Arts Foundation, Indian Summer Festival, Vancouver Mural Festival, and clients such as the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and Lululemon. Johal holds a Diploma in Fine Arts with honours from Langara College in 2007.”
Nela Hallwas, XBa School of Dance
“Founded in Surrey in 2001, XBa is the only dance school in BC to offer the International Certification of Dance Studies in Contemporary Dance as accredited by UNESCO’S International Dance Council. XBa fosters a free-thinking environment and creative participation is strongly encouraged for all students. Nela Hallwas has created a world-class faculty offering the best quality dance education in a higher-learning environment. XBa alumni include a Gold Medallist Olympian (Canada’s Women’s 8 Rowing, Tokyo), Olympic and World Skating champions, dance teachers, a Canadian film and television actor, international dance and performance artists, scholars, and art therapists.”
Young People’s Opera Society
“The Young People’s Opera Society of BC (YPOSBC) is a registered charity founded by Juno award-winning singer Patricia Dahlquist in 2005. Since the society entered its second decade in 2015, significant progress has continued under the new Artistic Director, Dolores Scott. YPOSBC’s practical training program offers affordable opportunities for people both young and young at heart to learn about, participate in, and sing opera at a community level. With weekly rehearsals and several performances a year, the unique YPOSBC program incorporates singing, dancing, acting, learning various aspects of stagecraft, and offering opportunities in production.”
Glisha Dela Cruz
“Glisha is a 20-year-old Surrey-based Filipino-Canadian singer-songwriter with international hit songs. From her very successful first single ‘Over Myself’ in late 2018 to her first album ‘Attachments + Acceptance’ released in March 2021, including the hit songs ‘Scars and Scratches’ and ‘Staycation,’ Glisha’s music garnered a total of over 1.2 million streams on online music platforms. Glisha is a 2019 Joey Awards winner for ‘Best Performance in a Recorded Song’ and won ‘Excellence by a Female Artist’ at the 2020 Fraser Valley Music Awards. Glisha is also an environmental advocate committed to community volunteerism.”
“Josh Bogert is a recording and performing artist in South Surrey. Reaching international success with his music, Josh will always appreciate the city that started his career. From performing at official City events, to getting involved in Surrey’s culturally rich community, he couldn’t have done any of it without the help and support of his home. You can find Josh on all major music streaming platforms and social media promoting his music career. Still, you’ll also find him as one of this year’s Surrey Band-Aid mentors, helping teach and inspire the next generation of artists in our city.”
“Luv Randhawa is a singer, songwriter and entertainer. His career in the music industry dates back to 1999 with North America’s first Fusion Bhangra Band Signia. He has topped World iTunes charts with many of his catchy singles and album releases during his LuvMusicOnline solo career. Recently, he was #2 on the Canadian iTunes R&B/Soul Charts with his mainstream album entitled ‘Believe in Me.’ Luv has received recognition from the House of Commons and was awarded the 2020 Best International Artist by the UK Bhangra Awards. Luv has been recognized for his outstanding contribution to the music and arts industry.”