A copy of the letter that I just emailed to the mayor and his council — I would encourage each and every one of you to write one too!

Dear Mayor McCullum

I just saw the announcement of the postponing of the building of several community amenities. I was especially disappointed to hear that our much needed arts centre was postponed as well. Our art community has been struggling with amenities that are at least 40 years behind the rest of the lower mainland. As a music educator, performer, and presenter, we are limited in our locations in Surrey to present art and limited to churches which eliminate many potential audience members who do not feel comfortable attending an event at a church. Our musicians and artists need and deserve first rate facilities that will allow them to fully express themselves. As Canadians, we have always been at the forefront in supporting arts. We have strong grant programs that run provincially and federally. A first rate art facility, would be another way for Surrey to demonstrate that we are part of that movement. Do we want to be remembered as a city that did not understand the need and purpose of art in our country?

Many studies have examined how attending live concerts and art shows create endorphins which make humans happier. Happy citizens mean that they are more productive in their jobs and families which create a thriving community, something that we all want as citizens of Surrey.

Mr. Mayor, you claimed in your election platform that you wanted to lower crime, yet you are eliminating programs that will prevent crime. There are countless studies that clearly indicate that strong community programs for arts and sports lower the crime rates. So by eliminating these opportunities for youth — you are reneging on your campaign promises. Challenging our youth and providing them with facilities that have space will help lower crime, something that you seem to be focused on. I believe you sited that these facilities were not needed to a small drop in participation in youth programs, I would ask why? Are these programs crowed? Are the current facilities easy to get to? Are they in areas with large youth populations? I know from my small research talking to parents, they said that most programs fill up quickly making it difficult to sign up their children. Was any of that research done before voting happened? Our youth deserve more as they are our future. Perhaps, you are unaware of the need of such programs?

I challenge you to take a moment and Google how live concerts and youth programs lower crime rates, as there are countless studies that will come up.

I would also remind you that during WWII, that Winston Churchill did not just focus his energy on bullets but rather invested in the arts. A popular meme that is used on social media shows Mr. Churchill being questioned as to why he was investing so much money in the arts, he supposed answer wSee the source imageas “Why are we fighting?” If he did or did not say that, the sentiment still holds true. I would though challenge you to ask yourself what you are fighting for as our mayor.

Let’s us become the city we deserve to be – let us join the 21 Century.

Sincerely,
Natalia Pardalis
Artist, Art Presenter, Educator, Concern Citizen