We’re hearing from some artists who would really like to participate in Culture Days but who are not sure how to find an appropriate space to host a public activity. Below is a list of helpful places to start your venue search.
Potential Venues in your Community
Other Culture Days Activity Organizers — A really good place to start looking for a venue is to approach the arts organizations in your area that are presenting their own Culture Days activities. Ask if they have some extra space (for instance in their extra studio, lobby, lounge, meeting room or in front of their building) to host you too. There is a much greater chance of attracting large crowds to sites where multiple activities are taking place. Of course, bigger crowds are good for both you and your host.
- Libraries — Libraries are not just for books anymore! Increasingly, libraries are engaging in all sorts of educational and family events. Many libraries have meeting rooms, small auditoriums or courtyards that are appropriate to host Culture Days activities. Some libraries have already registered that they are organizing their own Culture Days activities – ask your local library if they would like to host yours!
- Community Centres — Community centres come in a range of shapes and sizes – some are owned and operated by municipalities while others are independent not-for-profit organizations. Some are focused on health and athletics while others deliver social programs. Regardless, all community centres are places for the public to gather, learn, share and play so they make great venues for Culture Days activities.
- City Hall, parks and plazas — Contact your municipality for information about permits and usage of City Hall, parks and plazas. If you are planning an outdoor event, consider an indoor contingency site in case of rain.
- Universities, Colleges and Schools — There is a great range of facilities that universities and colleges can offer, from public spaces, large lecture halls, classrooms with multimedia tools, cafeterias or student common areas, studios and rehearsal spaces to performance halls. Likewise, some public schools districts allow auditoriums, gymnasiums and classrooms to be used by community groups after school hours. Contact your school district or your local school to find out more. If you are an artist who already works in the education system, Culture Days is a perfect opportunity to combine your teaching role with your artistic practice. Otherwise, Culture Days is a chance to start new relationships with schools in your community and share your artistic knowledge with students. Discuss with professors, teachers or principals how your activity could fit into their curriculum objectives.
- Places of Worship — In many neighbourhoods there are under-utilized churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and other places of worship. Their main halls usually have excellent acoustics for concerts and most also have smaller multi-purpose rooms. Your activity does not have to be religious in nature since as community-run organizations, most places of worship welcome opportunities to be an active part of their neighbourhood.
- Cafes, Bars, Stores, Malls and Other Businesses — Talk to your favourite cafe, bookstore, bar or hangout about the work you do as an artist. Contact your local business improvement association to find out which of their members might be receptive to hosting your activity. Explain how your Culture Days activity could enliven their space and introduce their business to new customers. You might also be surprised how an unconventional venue sparks your creativity!
- Empty Storefronts — Contact your local business improvement association or the listed real estate agent to find out who owns empty storefronts in your community. Sometimes securing an empty storefront for a short-term project can be challenging but they make great venues so it can be worth the trouble. Explain to the BIA and storefront owner how Culture Days is a great way to revitalize a main street, downtown core or under-appreciated area. When empty storefronts are creatively occupied, even temporarily, business owners start to see the potential in a property and the neighbourhood.
Finally, When Making Your Venue Request….
Start by introducing Culture Days as a volunteer movement with the objective to encourage awareness, participation and engagement of all Canadians in the arts and cultural life of their own communities. Position your request for a venue as a partnership that will be mutually beneficial to you, their venue and the community at large. Be clear about what you need in a venue and what your expectations are for your activity. All publicly accessible buildings have liabilty insurance which should cover your need Culture Days activities. However, if you are dealing with a facility that is not normally open to the public, please check with them about public liability insurance. Most importantly — be respectful of their space and show your thanks and appreciation.
If you’d like more tips on making a request for a venue, please leave a comment below.
Written by Aubrey Reeves, Ontario Arts Council’s Culture Days Animator/Coordinator.
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