With more than 600 activity registrations last year, the Culture Days movement continues to grow in B.C. Below is a compilation of the top 5 reasons participants host activities for Culture Days based on annual feedback from surveys, community outreach sessions, and consultations with community organizers:
1) To develop new audiences —” I visited the Old Hastings Mill Store Museum in Vancouver, which I had been meaning to do for ages. Their involvement in Culture Days prompted me to finally go. Thank you.” Sheila K.
Culture Days is a great time to open your doors to new audiences. Invite the public into your space to discover what goes on in the day-to-day creation of your work. You’d be surprised how many people might be discovering what you do for the first time, even though they live just blocks away!
2) To develop partnerships and collaborations with other artists and organizations — “The local Indian classical artists and community organizations welcomed the opportunity to collaborate and were very excited to be working together on a common platform made available for the first time. Celebrating cultural connectivity all through the "Traditional India Series" for Culture Days set a new precedent in the Tri-Cities.“ Nina Buddhdev, 2015 Tri-Cities Culture Days Ambassador.
A unique aspect of Culture Days is that a variety of artists and organizations can partner together, creating hubs, cross-promoting, and sharing resources. This interaction can often lead to future artist collaborations. As well, in many communities, municipalities play an important role in supporting efforts through communication, funding opportunities, free venues, or in-kind assistance. By working together, participants can attract more media interest, encourage cultural tourism, and benefit from the many marketing resources provided by the Culture Days campaign.
3) To make connections with new sponsors — “With almost a hundred artists and over forty businesses involved, both groups felt empowered at the possibility of change in their community.” Julia T.
The above quote describes how in 2014 the West Kelowna and Westbank First Nation Communities joined forces in creating Westside Culture Days and engaging artists and local businesses to host Culture Days activities. The number of sponsors involved in one community for Culture Days set an amazing example of how artists can engage sponsors and business partners to support and be actively involved in the growth of a community. Through combined efforts, they were able to empower their local arts community, leading to the establishment of the Suk’ʷtəmsqilxʷ West Kelowna Arts Council. Since then, Westbank First Nation was awarded the Cities for People Award at the National Congress on Culture in Edmonton and most recently, Westside Culture Days ranked number one in Culture Days registrations for communities of under 499,999.
4) To take part in the Ambassador and Awards Program — “ It helped elevate my goals of becoming a leader in the arts and culture sector. It gave me tools that I was able to leverage to gain more exposure, and access to people and resources that would normally take longer to connect to if I was on my own.” Amanda Shatzko, 2015 BC Culture Days Ambassador.
While Culture Days is still a volunteer-driven campaign and does not act as a funding agency, with the financial support of the Province of British Columbia, BC Culture Days is able to offer an opportunity for project funding through the Ambassadors and Awards program. This program invites BC artists or cultural workers participating in Culture Days to apply for the chance to represent BC artists as a spokesperson and activator for their community. In addition, winners are given a cash award of $1,000 to use towards outreach and production costs related to their Culture Days activity. Past Culture Days ambassadors gained valuable experience from the relationships formed during the process and have garnered much media attention, leading to other exciting career opportunities and collaborations.
5) To be a part of a national celebration — “Culture Days allowed for some very special moments to take place for some young children trying out trombones, harps, guitars, trumpets and violins and more at our Nanaimo Conservatory of Music. The treasure of Culture Days bringing local Canadian communities together to celebrate the arts is exceptionally impressive, not to mention a lot of fun!” K. McDowell.
Putting all else aside, Culture Days is a celebration. One might think: “Well, our community hosts arts and cultural events all year. What makes the Culture Days weekend any different?” The difference is that more than 600,000 volunteers and 1 million participants in 900 cities/towns across the country over the same three days of the year are united by the common goal of recognizing the value of arts, culture and heritage in our society. Collaborations like that don’t happen every day! Artists and organizations not only open their doors, but allow the public to experience the creative process hands-on, behind-the-scenes or interactively, planting the seeds of future generations of creative people, leading us to happier, healthier communities. Let’s not remain confined to our own silos, but instead play our part in creating, participating, and sharing our love of culture together.
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