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Past Spotlight Winners

2018 Spotlight winner Guelph Makers Market Hub courtesy of Visit Guelph
2018 Spotlight winner Guelph Makers Market Hub courtesy of Visit Guelph

In need of some inspiration? View our 2018 and 2019 Spotlight winners.

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2019 Spotlight Winners

Best Exemplification of Theme

Nia in Halton Hills
Instructors from Nia inspired the public to get moving this Culture Days weekend, combining a fusion of moves set to music and inspired by martial arts, dance, yoga and mindfulness. Nia is aimed at improving mobility, strength and balance in body, mind and spirit for all levels and abilities.

Art as Therapy
Art as Therapy Art Hive is a new addition to the Milton art scene. As part of their Culture Days program with Arts Milton they ran an arts workshop that encouraged participants to experience mindful art-making though meditation. Prompts such as “Energy Sketch” and “Peaceful Places” were used as a starting place for getting creative.

Best Hub

Credit Valley Trail ‘First Steps along the Path’ Celebration
The Town of Halton Hills, Credit Valley Conservation, and Credit Valley Trail Indigenous Roundtable kicked-off the Culture Days weekend in Glen Williams Park. The Credit Valley ‘First Steps on the Path’ Celebration showcased a unique connective set of activities capturing the themes of wellbeing, local heritage and Indigenous history. Some programming highlights included an Indigenous Water Ceremony, interactive arts activities, themed trail walks and tasting traditional Indigenous cuisine. A number of organizations took part in the event including: The Credit River Metis Council, The Moccasin Identifier Project, The Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, EcoSource, Willow Park Ecology Centre, Williams Mill Visual Arts Centre, and the Decolonizing the Heart Workshop.

Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre
The Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre hosted over 3500 people with 36 activities this Culture Days weekend. Events featured in their one-of-a-kind, multi-use arts, culture and recreation facility, included town-planned activities as well as programs organized by local community groups. Working with the theme of “Wellness” this hub incorporated recreational swims, yoga and meditation classes alongside arts activities like printmaking cards, exhibitions by local artists, dance and theatre workshops.

Arts and Culture Council of Burlington
The Arts and Culture Council of Burlington hosted over 25 volunteer-run events at the Art Gallery of Burlington. The programming included a roster participatory activities for all ages such as performances by professional musicians and playwrights, children’s workshops, storytelling groups and choral singing. In addition, many of the activities were performed against the backdrop of a screen that shared information about the health benefits of participating in various artistic and cultural activities.

Outstanding Participatory Program

ArtHouse Pollinator Canoe Painting
As part of Milton Culture Days, ArtHouse for Children and Youth in partnership with Halton Environmental Network brought a canoe to FirstOntario Arts Centre Milton to be decorated in a two-part workshop, under the guidance of ArtHouse Artist Elena Martoglio. The canoe is one in a series of six, all to be filled with indigenous plants from the Kayanese Greenhouse and transformed into butterfly pollinator gardens. This project was created in collaboration with Culture Days host Arts Milton, various artist facilitators, and the participation of the public. The program featured interactivity, prompted important eco discussion, and contributed to creating public art in Milton. The Canoe will be permanently located at Milton’s Library Garden and maintained with lots of care by the Milton and District Horticultural Society’s Members.

Orillia Public Library
The Orillia Public Library’s 2019 How-To Festival offered over 40 unique workshops as part of the 2019 Culture Days celebration. This cooperative learning program offered participants the chance to experience and learn practical, hands-on skills in short sessions. The workshops covered a wide range of interests for all ages, including arts and crafts, food and drink, repairs, outdoor experiences, and health and wellness. Congratulations to all our Spotlight winners and thank you to the members of our Spotlight Committee!

Breakout Organizer

Living Hyphen
Living Hyphen participated in Culture Days by hosting a writing workshop at the Malvern Branch of the Toronto Public Library. The program was designed for writers of all ages and experience levels who identified as Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC). Participants explored their hyphenated identities as individuals who call Canada home, but who have roots in different, faraway places. Through writing prompts, the group played with their creativity while also giving time and space to learn about the experiences of others.

Meagan Speakman
Meagan Speakerman, owner of Acton’s The Dance Impact, brought an energetic lineup of activities by offering nine free dance classes over the weekend. The classes ranged from disciplines such as dance fit, cheer, and musical theatre, all of which were targeted to a variety of ages. These classes offered the community the opportunity to try something new and experience the beneficial impacts of dance.

Removing Barriers to Access

Halton Hills Chinese Association
The Halton Hills Chinese Association provided accessible and inclusive dance and art programs including a Tai Chi exercise, Chinese calligraphy, Chinese paper-cutting and plaza dancing. Each program featured a live translator that provided instructions in both English and Chinese for attendees. The Association partnered with the local seniors center to transport participants to and from their Culture Days events, giving everyone the opportunity to get involved and learn something new about their community.

Town of Huntsville Runner-up
Every year since 2010 The Town of Huntsville has supported audience engagement by removing physical and financial barriers to provide accessible spaces for community programs. Events such as their annual Artist on the Street festival provide opportunities for education and community enrichment for visitors and residents alike. Huntsville’s many dedicated volunteers and creative cultural organizations are proud of their collaborative leadership, allowing them to expand public interest in the arts and create opportunities for everyone to access culture in their community.

Dr Jeff Sutherland
To celebrate Culture Days, Dr Jeff Sutherland hosted a book launch at the Halton Hills Public Library. The event welcomed over 200 patrons who listened to the heartwarming and personal story of former family physician Dr. Jeff Sutherland, who lives with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease). His memoir talks about not only personal losses associated with ALS but also details the author’s grief journey following the loss of his oldest son and his son’s partner in a freak accident. It is a manual to help people find hope following tragedy and live life with resiliency. The program provided an opportunity for the community to gather, hear about the author’s life, learn about ALS, and how important accessibility is for everyone.

People’s Choice

Renaissance Robotics
Renaissance Robotics Team 4525 created an outstanding program that showcased the innovation and creativity found in London’s downtown youth culture. The public was invited to come check out the ways science & technology intersected with art & design at their robotics exhibit and competition on the Culture Days weekend.

Art Bomb Festival
Artbomb Festival transformed the Gananoque community into an open air gallery for one day inviting the community to engage and experience the Arts in all forms. This one day event took place all around this community. From the waterfront to downtown, in participating galleries, restaurants and shops, as well as public spaces.

2018 Spotlight Winners

Best Corridor

Kingsville expanded their Main Street Corridor in 2018 to include two full blocks of programming. The organizers did a great job at getting local businesses including a barber shop, a butcher, and a seniors residence, to open up their doors and host arts programming during this exciting Saturday.

Halton Hills Georgetown
Not only did the Halton Hills Georgetown Corridor act as an excellent link between the bustling Farmers Market, Library and Cultural Centre, it also connected the audience with programming at participating venues throughout the downtown. Volunteers at the Market were available to answer questions and give directions, while live music and outdoor workshops ensured the downtown felt lively and engaging to passersby.

Best Hub

Burlington Centre performing Arts
The Burlington Performing Arts Centre hosted Burlington’s first Cultural Diversity Festival, supported by The City of Burlington’s “Cultural Diversity Initiative”. Together with local cultural partners, including the Black History Awareness Society and Redleaf Cultural Integration, BPAC presented a diverse line-up of performances, workshops, lectures, activities, demonstration for all ages.

Perth Museum
The Culture Days saw every inch of the Perth Museum filled with activity. Outdoors, museum staff baked scones in the new outdoor baking oven. Inside the historic house, visitors could find textile-making demonstrations, a meet-and-greet with an author, and a new exhibition from The Perth and District Sports Hall of Fame.


NAC Pow Wow DJ
Algonquin dancer Josée Bourgeois guided participants through modern POW wow drum music sampled with techno/house music remixed by Mohawk artist, DJ Shub. With a mix of traditional dance movements, Hip Hop and contemporary dance movements, this class was perfect for experienced dancers, total beginners, and everyone in between.

Halton Hills – OnBeat on the Hills
Runner-up Three prominent Halton Hills musical groups joined forces to offer a unique magical, musical evening. OnBeat in the Hills was organized by The Halton Hills Concert Band, The Georgetown Choral Society and the Gaudeamus Choir. Participants were invited to experiment with the instruments, try their hand at conducting, or sing along with the choir.

Best Partnership

Barrie Performing Musicians Showcase
In partnership with the City of Barrie, the Downtown Barrie Business Association and Ontario Musicians Cooperative, the Performing Musicians Showcase featured emerging musicians performing on the street corners of downtown Barrie. This program supported local revitalization efforts by creating a lively and dynamic atmosphere in the city’s core.

The Lyndhurst Art and Culture Tour showcased 13 venues and a wealth of local musicians, artists and artisans. The group put together their own tour map and website with recommendations on places to stop, sights to see, and recommended restaurants to visit. Points of interest also included the Barn Quilt Trail, a collection of murals mounted on barns and historic houses throughout the community.

Outstanding Participatory Programming

Making Room Community Arts
Making Room is guided by its core value of radical inclusion, using arts as a way of community engagement and relationship building. ‘Pathways: Choose Your Own Adventure’ was a culmination of two summer workshop series, and brought together diverse community members at a park in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood to share in community art, music, and food.

Guelph invited visitors to its City Hall and Market Square for its second annual Culture Hub and Makers Market. Programs, including pottery, paper marbling and sparked conversation, encouraged collaboration and celebrated creativity. The community was invited to explore:

  • Collective mosaic creation with Lelkessen
  • Free henna designs by Megan Firth
  • Clay Pinch Pot Critter making with Guelph Potters’ Guild
  • Iron-on Guelph-themed patch making with Steph Sew Sublime
  • Landscape postcard painting with Art Studio Guelph
  • Suminagashi Japanese paper marbling with rock.paper.scissors
  • Good luck charm crafting with Snowdrop & Co
  • Interactive weaving installation with Alisa McRonald
  • Instrument making and rhythm circle with Earth Tones Studio
  • Children’s Art Factory Makers Table
  • Live broadcast from CFRU 93.3 FM All activity organizers were paid for their time and many chose to participate as vendors for the Makers Market as well. Space was offered to vendors, free of charge, and no commission was taken on any sales. The result was a well attended, highly engaged celebration of #GuelphCulture!

People’s Choice

Norval Community Association
The Norval Community Association hosted a Kairos Blanket Exercise as part of the Culture Days weekend. Developed by Kairos in response to the 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the Blanket Exercise covers over 500 years of history in a two hour participatory workshop.

As part of the exercise, participants were invited to take on the roles of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Standing on blankets that represent the land, they walk through pre-contact, treaty-making, colonization, resistance, and culture appropriation. They are directed by a Kairos-trained facilitator who takes on the role of narrator and acts as the European colonizers. Participants are drawn into the experience by reading scrolls and carrying cards which ultimately determine their outcomes, and can watch as events directly effecting their lives unfold around them.

By engaging on an emotional and intellectual level, the Blanket Exercise serves as a tool for education and empathy. The exercise is followed by a debriefing session in which participants have the opportunity to discuss the experience as a group with the facilitators.

Art Gallery of Algoma and Indian Friendship Centre
Sault Ste Marie’s Art Gallery of Algoma and Indian Friendship Centre partnered together to host programs over the Culture Days weekend. A Medicine Walk invited visitors to walk with hosts from the Friendship Centre along the shores of the St Mary’s River. The program guides taught participants about natural medicines and edible plants that traditionally grow in the region.

At the Art Gallery of Algoma, performers from the Friendship Centre filled the space with the sounds and artistry of Jingle Dress Dancers. According to gallery staff, everyone in the building was drawn to the sounds of the drumming in the gallery, making for a very special day.

Removing Barriers to Access

Department of Imaginary Affairs
The Department of Imaginary Affairs seeks, collects, and shares stories of new and developing Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Every story helps us learn more about the people who live in Canada. Through various public projects, the organization shares these stories in the hopes of creating a nation of empathetic citizens, public services, and policies. Stories are the key to challenging assumptions, nurturing and fostering creativity, and giving rise to citizen voices. In collaboration with Culture Days @ the Library, the Department of Imaginary Affairs held a workshop/program entitled “The Stories of Us”. Newcomers of all ages, abilities and backgrounds were encouraged to attend the afternoon program, connect with one another, and share their stories of coming to Canada. The goal of the project was to collect said stories and eventually build an ESL library of journeys for all readers to enjoy.

Kingston BAG Project
The Tett Centre hosted The Begin Again Group (B.A.G. Project) who creates eco-friendly, vegan purses and designer bags, made out of recycled rubber. This group of talented, Kingston Newcomer artisans invited participants to try their hand at creating and designing parts of handbags. A display of completed bags, which represent new beginnings, were on view and up for sale, and the ladies took turns sharing aspects of their cultures with participants. Every bag purchased supported newcomer women and their families. The Begin Again Group is a collaboration between newcomer refugee women, Bon Eco Design and KEYS Job Centre in Kingston, Ontario. Together we are forming an exciting social enterprise providing teaching and training for newcomer women to start and run a business in Canada. The Bag Project is our first initiative making purses and totes from recycled rubber. Each bag represents new beginnings for the material and the makers.