The Surrey Arts Centre, located in Bear Creek Park, was built by three different firms in three stages since 1967. The redevelopment, designed by PROSCENIUM ARCHITECTURE+ INTERIORS INC., began with a feasibility study to assess the centre’s needs and evolved to the addition of 21,000 square feet to an existing facility, to total 55,000 square feet on three levels. Additionally, extensive seismic and envelope upgrades were required to meet current codes.
A main pathway running though the facility helps orient visitors by allowing them to see entrances to all the major public spaces. Major new program spaces that were created include a Class “A” gallery for the visual arts, a public program space for lectures and other functions, three visual arts classrooms, a gift shop, space for docents, a new studio theatre and a relocated and expanded administration block.
The Surrey Art Centre serves a community of 380,000 people. It is situated in a massive park area surrounded by many recreational facilities such as a football oval, a running track, a swimming pool, and a water park. Most of the commercial development is found three kilometres up the road.
The Surrey Arts Centre boasts a variety of facilities and services including: an art gallery, two theatres (402-seat Main Stage and the flexible-seat Studio Theatre), a gift shop, art rental, classrooms, seven dressing rooms, a courtyard with gardens and reflecting pool, and a boardroom.
The 3,575-square-foot studio theatre hosts a variety of events including theatrical, musical, and dance presentations/rehearsals, as well as lectures, seminars, and wedding receptions. The Studio Theatre has both flexible seating and staging options, and has a fully sprung, linoleum floor ideal for multiple activities. It has a flat floor with retractable seating that can accommodate up to 129, banquet seating that accommodate up to 160 and room for 200 standing. There are shared dressing rooms for up to 59 people, a green room that can be divided into two rooms, three pianos, a keyboard, fully equipped audio systems, a full complement of draperies, ETC dimmers and control boards, and an extensive inventory of lighting fixtures.
The City of Surrey owns and operates the facility. There are 35 staff members; the majority are casual and nine are full-time positions. Attendance numbers for 2004 reached 75,211 for the entire facility.
In 2001, the Surrey Arts Centre underwent a $7.5 million expansion and renovation which included the addition of 21,000 square feet. The Studio Theatre along with three classrooms, a programming room linked to the gallery, an addition to the main gallery space, and a greater lobby were included in the expansion plan. The capital funds for the project were supplied by the City of Surrey. The centre has an annual operating budget of $2.2 million dollars. Self-generated revenues amount to $1.3 million and the residual comes from the city.
A strategic cultural plan was commissioned by the City of Surrey prior to the centre’s expansion. The plan was created with direct input from the community. Focus groups and meetings were held by consultants to understand patron, renter, and business points of view.
Written by Lindsay Sinclair (Artspace North Society, 2005)
Photos: The Surrey Arts Centre
For more information, please visit: www.arts.surrey.ca