In August 2011, four artists and writers of Color founded Surrey Muse to respond to the City’s need for an arts presentation stage that welcomed writers and artists of all ethnicities and descriptions. Surrey Muse presented its first event in November 2011 at the City Centre branch of Surrey Libraries- where it still happens from 5:30-8:30 PM on the fourth Friday of each month except December. Perceived as an interdisciplinary art and literature presentation group, it continues to present a featured author, poet, artist/performer, an across discipline open mic opener, a vibrant Open Mic and a strong discussion component in its eleven programmed events each year.
In 2017, Surrey Muse carried out an internal self-evaluation of its performance and work, and found that it had featured over 150 writers and artists, and that the six organizing members spent approximately 1150 hours and $800 cash per year to organize and present the eleven gatherings.
To celebrate the Fifth Anniversary of Surrey Muse, the core organizing group initiated two projects, Surrey Muse Writers and Surrey Muse At large (SMAL). Surrey Muse Writers, a drop-in critique group for writers, had a successful three-month trial run in 2016, and is now waiting to begin on solid ground. The SMAL is a collaborative effort bringing a shorter form of Surrey Muse programming to the communities that may not be able to otherwise access it. SMAL has presented three successful Summer series in South and North Surrey in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
At the end of 2018, it became apparent that a more formal structure was needed, prompting nonprofit society registration.
We are grateful to the City of Surrey’s Cultural Grants Program for a capacity building grant that allowed us to offer small honorarium to our presenters since 2019; to Vancouver Foundation (VF) for a Small Neighbourhood Grant via Oak Avenue Neighbourhood Society to present Garden Plot Reading Series in collaboration with the Plot Sharing Garden during the Summer of 2019; and, to Surrey Libraries for their ongoing support since 2011.
Surrey Muse Arts Society (SMAS) came into existence because of the confidence given to Surrey Muse by the authors, poets, artists and performers who shared their art works without honorarium for seven years, the support provided by Surrey Libraries and by the staff and employees of the City Centre branch, the engaged interaction of our participants, and the contributions of volunteer work made by Fauzia Rafique, Mariam Zohra, Randeep Purewall, Sana Janjua, Sonja Grgar, Helga Parekh, David Macilwain, and, by the Advisers Joanne Arnott, Valerie b.-Taylor, Manolis Aligizakis and Nefertiti SheLa Morrisson.