By next fall, Surrey artists will have another venue to perform in: the new council chambers.
The chambers at the new city hall, on track for completion by September 2013, will double as a live performance space, allowing musicians, actors and the like a 200-seat space to hone their crafts.
"It tied into our mayor and council's vision to create the new city hall as a focal point in our City Centre area," said Laurie Cavan, general manager of the city's Parks, Recreation and Culture department. "When we took that as their vision, we looked at how can we make the city hall more accessible and be of value as an asset to the community."
The city looked at the arts community and discovered a need for more places to stage live events in Surrey.
"Performing arts space is something in really high demand," she said. "Our current arts centre is at capacity most of the time, so when we spoke with the arts community, they were really excited about this opportunity."
While council meetings are still the venue's priority, Cavan said it makes sense to make the chambers a multi-purpose space within city hall.
"When you think of it, council meets every two weeks, so there is an opportunity in between to utilize it for other community uses," she said.
The venue - much smaller than the 1,600-seat performing arts centre planned for Surrey's downtown core - could host small jazz concerts, theatre performances, children's concerts and even educational presentations and lectures.
"You might not have a full symphony, but you could have a small ensemble," she said.
Cavan said this is the first venue the city knows of to be built as a council chamber first and a performing arts venue second. The council chambers in Port Moody hosts live arts, but their chamber is built the other way around - as a performance venue first and council chambers second.
"Some cities have tried to do it, but I think ours is the most unique design of any other city we've been able to source," she said.