Winners of the inaugural Surrey Mayor’s Art Awards are Westminster Savings Credit Union, Surrey Youth Orchestra, Mohammad Aminul Islam and Sheila McKinnon. (submitted photo)

Surrey Mayor’s Art Awards winners celebrated at Guildford hotel

‘Music city’ discussion was part of inaugural event on June 9

SURREY — More than 200 people celebrated winners of the inaugural Surrey Mayor’s Art Awards during a breakfast event Friday (June 9) at Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel.

A Surrey Board of Trade committee judged nominees on “the degree to which they had a positive impact on Surrey, the number of people they served, their history and involvement in performances, exhibits, commissions and fellowships, and their artistic and professional affiliations.”

Winners in four award caterogies were announced:

Arts and Innovation category winner: Surrey Youth Orchestra

“The Surrey Youth Orchestra has a long history of bringing orchestra music training to children. The orchestra has been under the direction of founder Lucille Lewis for 35 years until 2011, when she retired, and is now under the direction of Joel Stobbe and his conductors Ben Goheen and Andrea Taylor. Each September, more than 100 young musicians rehearse weekly from September to May, taking part in music camps, extended workshops, chamber music, and specialized instruction.”

Cultural Ambassador category winner: Mohammad Aminul Islam

“Mohammad is the president of the Mother Language Lovers of the World Society, based in Surrey. For the past 10 years, he has worked tirelessly to promote and preserve linguistic diversity and cultural heritage within Surrey and throughout BC through the celebration of the International Mother Language Day, recognized annually on February 21 worldwide. In Surrey, every year approximately 70,000 students, representing 172 various mother language speakers have the opportunity to know about and celebrate their languages, identify their cultural heritage and share this with others. Mr. Islam’s work promotes diversity and respect for other cultures through cross-cultural sharing.”

Philanthropy category winner: Westminster Savings Credit Union

“Westminster Savings is committed to increasing access to active living and the arts in the community. They call this commitment ‘Project Better Balance’. The credit union’s philosophy is that participation in arts and active living leads to greater self-confidence, athletic development, personal expression, enhanced critical thinking and social reinforcement. Both staff and senior management at Westminster Savings provide outstanding support to their community partnerships by volunteering at a variety of public events, attending local initiatives and creating a number of opportunities to heighten awareness of the arts.”

Legacy category winner: Sheila McKinnon

“Sheila’s career choice was initially motivated by a desire to work with children and youth in high needs communities and to make a difference in the quality of people’s lives. Sheila was recruited to work in Surrey from a large municipal organization in Ontario where community development was her strong suit. This year, retiring in her 22-year working for the City of Surrey as Arts Manager, her legacy is found in the outcomes from the Cultural Capital of Canada Award programs. The Fusion Festival has become a catalyst for cultural sharing; the six public art installations beautify our spaces in Surrey, and the Surrey Civic Treasures Awards have given the city a sense of pride in the accomplishment of its highest achievers in the cultural sector.”

The award ceremony included a “creative economy dialogue” focused on making Surrey a “music city” destination.

“The Surrey Board of Trade will lead the charge on making Surrey a ‘music city’ destination through collaborations with those in the music industry and those that want to enhance Surrey’s already vibrant arts and culture scene,” stated Anita Huberman, CEO of Surrey Board of Trade.

“We will consider developing music- and musician-friendly policies, creating a music city office, forming a music advisory board, outreach strategies, access to spaces, developing the music audience, and music tourism. A music city strategy will grow and strengthen our economy and our businesses.”

Sponsors of the 2017 Surrey Mayor’s Art Awards are Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel, The Lark Group, Tien Sher Group of Companies, Surrey Now-Leader newspaper and Focus Audio Visual Services.

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