Three days of culture, culture, culture - what will Burlingtonians decide to produce?

Event 100By Pepper Parr

April 27, 2015


Culture in Burlington took another step forward last week when a Culture Days information session took place at the Art Gallery of Burlington.

Noack interview - city culture days 014

Local artists were able to set up a booth in Civic Square at the 2014 Culture Days – most reported they did very well at raising their profiles.

It was a small crowd but several of the people who play major roles in how culture is marketed and delivered in this city were in the room
There is a non-profit organization that maintains a web site with everything anyone would want to know about cultural events in the province. Culture Days raises the awareness, accessibility, participation and engagement of Canadians in the arts and cultural life of their communities.

To make it really work the Culture Days organization say again and again – ya gotta register – and the earlier the better.
Register an event is what makes an event work. It is not the simplest thing to do. McLeod wasn’t able top get the computer she was using to project the process onto a screen but the Gazette went on line and gave it a whirl – and it does work.

There are four basic criteria to Culture Days activities:

1. Your activity is free to the public
All activities registered as part of Culture Days are free; that is, they cannot be ticketed or occur in a space that charges admission. If you have already planned a mix of free and ticketed programs, register your free activities with Culture Days, and simply let the public know that you have other activities available as well. Fundraisers or sales can happen in proximity to your free event as long as it does not overshadow or restrict/prevent access to free activities. Note: asking for voluntary donations or placing a donation box near the entrance is not the same as requiring donations.

Teresa Seaton, a stained glass artist has been a prime mover behind the annual Art in Action tour - and is now part of the newly formed Arts and Culture Collective.

Teresa Seaton, a stained glass artist has been a prime mover behind the annual Art in Action tour – and is now part of the newly formed Arts and Culture Collective.

2. The activity takes place during the Culture Days weekend: September 25, 26 and/or 27, 2015 Activities registered as part of Culture Days take place during this year’s Culture Days weekend, but you do not need to have three days of activities or activities that last all day. Even a single one-hour participatory event scheduled during the Culture Days weekend qualifies. If your organization already offers arts learning or outreach activities, simply schedule one of your regular events during Culture Days.

3. The activity is participatory
All Culture Days activities are participatory in nature. This means that your activity involves some kind of hands-on aspect or offer the public “backstage”/behind-the-scenes access to see how you do what you do. Invite the public to go beyond a typical audience experience and instead play a part in the creative process. For instance, if you are in a choir, rather than stage a performance, you might offer a workshop on how to sing or harmonize; if you own or operate a dance studio, you might offer a dance class; if you are involved in a community radio station, you could offer a guided tour of your studio. Engagement and participation is key, regardless of the activity. Don’t forget that fun counts too! People love to do what they normally don’t have a chance to experience. Refer to the activity types in the upcoming section for more participation ideas.

4. The activity is registered at
When you register your activity online, you officially become part of Culture Days and benefit from the national promotional campaign that directs the public to the website to discover activities in their community. Registering online also gives you the chance to be included in the national Public Relations and Marketing campaign. You can also sign up to get regular e-newsletters with valuable advice and news about Culture Days.

Activity Types and Categories
There are five basic participatory activity types that can be registered as part of Culture Days, encompassing a wide range of artistic and cultural categories/disciplines.

1. hands-on activity: create, help make or try doing something yourself
2. behind-the-scenes: see inside artistic spaces and get a peek at creativity in action (indoors/outdoors)
3. excursion: tour of more than one location (eg. art gallery crawl)
4. discussion: artist talks, panels, round-tables and other cultural conversations where you can learn and discuss
5. collective creation: contribute to a collaborative act or work or art

The criteria and the regulations have that distinct stamp of a bureaucrat on them – but the process does work.

The city's cultural planner is all the arts community has at this point.  There is some cultural mapping being done - which is useful in itself but won't do all that much to build the tremendous potential culture has in this city.  Angela Papariza will use her well developed culture background and training to work with people like Trevor Copp - not likely to see much more in 2014.

The city’s cultural manager guided Burlington’s participation in the 2014 Culture Days – Angela Papariza talks to Trevor Copp who took a plea to city council for a better cultural environment in the city.

On the last Friday of September (September 25, 26 and 27, 2015) many municipalities in Ontario celebrate Culture with a three day event. Burlington has done this for a number of years and will be doing so again this September.

Promotion is critical according the Catherine McLeod who runs the Ontario arm of Culture Days

Why Register an Activity? From highlighting your community, raising your profile and meeting new audiences, to networking and connecting with like-minded citizens, the reasons are multiple!


Some of the most exciting quilting ever done was on display at the Art Gallery of Burlington last year. It will be interesting to see how the Art Gallery chooses to participate in 2105

Highlight the Cultural Vibrancy of Your Community
Every corner of this country is full of creativity, arts and culture. By participating in Culture Days, you help your fellow citizens become aware of the many unique opportunities available to them and encourage participation in arts and cultural activities in your own backyard. You draw attention to the different cultures and heritages that contribute to the development and vitality of your community.
You cast a spotlight on the cultural organizations and individual artists in their midst.

From children’s choirs, “stitch and bitch” groups and performing arts organizations to art colleges, museums and design firms, there are myriad perspectives, experiences, disciplines and techniques to share and discover. Working together, Culture Days participants showcase the vibrancy of local arts and culture, and encourage everyone to discover something new, something different, and to re-connect with their own creativity and community.

Arts and culture initiatives and industries not only make a vital contribution to our dynamic economy but, crucially to the social development of our neighbhourhoods, regions and country, promoting life-long learning, creative thinking, resiliency, appreciation of diversity, compassion and so much more.

Sign Burlington CultureSpread the word. Arts and culture are important.
Make Worthwhile Connections, Meet New Supporters & Audiences
A significant amount of Culture Days activity organizers share space with other organizers during the weekend, often collaborating with someone or organizations with which they had not previously worked. Whether it is to create a hub of diverse activities in one area to attract visitors, or as an excuse to finally contact someone you’ve been meaning to connect with, Culture Days is the perfect opportunity to meet other creative people in your area, share resources, form new alliances that will last year-round, and meet new potential supporters and audience members.

Collaborations can also inspire unique cross-pollination among creative practices, connecting across sectors, cultures and generations.
Moreover, your participation in Culture Days can be the catalyst to create a legacy of strong connections between citizens, artists, cultural workers and their communities.


During the creation of the Spiral Stella the public provided artifacts that were bronzed and made a part of the sculpture that stands outside the Performing Arts Centre. Here children watch in amazement at how the moulds are made.

Develop Your Skills
Culture Days offers a fantastic opportunity to sharpen your promotional and organizational skills.
By taking advantage of the free tips and tools offered on the website, you can make the most of your Culture Days experience and apply everything that you have learned or improved upon year-round.
Whether it is leveraging social media for the first time as a promotional tool, organizing as a community, or connecting with people as passionate as you are, the vast and varied network of collaborators that makes up the Culture Days initiative is the perfect support system.
Learning works best when you have people to share it with, so don’t hesitate to get out there and put it all into practice, and be sure to not be humble about your successes!

Raise Your Profile
Culture Days offers helpful tips and tools to conduct your own promotion and media relations. It is a great opportunity to be featured in your local paper, association newsletters, or arts blogs, to name a few. Don’t hesitate to tell everyone about your unique activity.

In addition to being included in the national marketing and communications campaign, you might also take part in local or regional marketing initiatives. By pointing the general public to where your activity is registered, people in your community and beyond your usual circles will learn about you and your activity.

Benefit from your participation by collecting contact information, business cards and comments from your visitors. This is a chance to build your email list and collect glowing testimonials for your next brochure or website update. Just by sharing your passion and talents, you can recruit new members, clients or audience members on the spot.

AGB visitor scene

Making culture the focus of conversation is what the Culture Days committee feels will raise the profile of the arts in a community.

Unite To Make Arts and Culture The Topic of Conversation
Culture Days is the largest-ever collective public participation campaign undertaken by the arts and cultural community in this country. Last year, artists, cultural organizations, diverse groups and local organizers in nearly 800 communities registered some 7,500 events. The marketing and media campaign generated impressions in the hundreds of millions.

In the three years since its inception, one in three Canadians reported being aware of Culture Days – that’s more than 11 million people!
By participating, you promote and reveal the creativity of our citizens, creators, organizations, and communities through a vast Canada-wide marketing and public awareness campaign. Whether you create a new program or already have a relevant interactive activity planned, everything included in the Culture Days weekend pushes arts and culture into the limelight.

It all happens September 25, 26 and 27, 2015 – what artists do between now and then will determine just how successful the day is. Wish for sunshine!

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

2 comments to Three days of culture, culture, culture – what will Burlingtonians decide to produce?