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Public Engagement Innovation Labs

In 2016, Culture Days held a national call for proposals from municipalities, organizations, groups or individuals involved or interested in Culture Days to lead Public Engagement Innovation Labs in their communities.

Why Innovation Labs?

The Innovation Labs project aims to help Canadian arts and heritage organizations, independent artists and cultural groups improve their collaborative partnership practices. Innovation Lab Partners are sharing some of their knowledge through the Culture Days Blog, Webinar Series and other resources developed from the best practices learned in each Innovation Lab community.

What Are Innovation Labs?

In many sectors, collaboration has proven to be an effective approach to successfully addressing challenges in building sustainability and resilience amongst stakeholders. Successful collaborative partnerships have emerged in hundreds of cities and towns across Canada since Culture Days’ inception, generating lasting and meaningful connections and experiences that endure and help strengthen participants’ work well beyond the annual Culture Days weekend.

To help increase the participation and engagement of targeted audiences through effective collaborative partnerships, Culture Days is supporting a select number of Public Engagement Innovation Labs across Canada to:

  1. Test, track and document creative solutions to the challenges of engaging existing audiences more deeply, or reaching new audiences or population segments; and,
  2. Share and publicize experiences and learnings with the Canadian and international arts and cultural community to help build sectorial capacity by profiling best practices.


Brampton, ON: Brampton is one of the largest cities in Canada. Known as Flower City, it is part of the Greater Toronto Area. Its Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives is housed in 19th-century and contemporary buildings. In the centre of downtown is the Rose Theatre, a major performing arts venue. In front of the theatre is Garden Square which hosts big-screen movies and live events. Green spaces include Gage Park with its floral gardens. Brampton’s Innovation Lab looks at the culture department’s evolving role as a community facilitator, partner, and promoter, thereby empowering community partners to take an active role in Culture Days planning. Learn more about Culture Days in Brampton:

Carcross, Yukon: Carcross, originally known as Caribou Crossing, is an unincorporated community in Yukon, Canada, on Bennett Lake and Nares Lake. It is home to the Carcross/Tagish First Nation. At the 2016 census, it had a population of 301. Despite its tiny population, Carcross is home to a retail village known as "Carcross Commons" which features a carving shed, the Carcross Visitor Information Centre, bakery/coffee shop, a restaurant and art gallery. Carcross hosts several Culture Days events each year. This Innovation Lab focuses on building mutually empowering relationships amongst and between local artists, cultural organizations and their facilities, and the Carcross/Tagish First Nation by curating a hub of art and cultural activity in downtown Carcross.

Vaughan, ON: Vaughan is part of the region of York, just north of Toronto. Vaughan had a population growth rate of 80.2% between 1996 and 2006 and has nearly doubled in population since 1991. It’s the fifth-largest city in the Greater Toronto Area. Vaughan has a vibrant and diverse arts and culture community. Dozens of Culture Days events take place in Vaughan every year. Vaughan’s Innovation Lab responds to the City’s Youth Engagement Strategy and will provide participating youth with a unique opportunity to develop their creative talents through the arts.

Toronto-Bloor Street Corridor: The Bloor Street Corridor in the heart of downtown Toronto is a unique arts and culture district spanning several blocks of Bloor Street West. The arts and culture destinations within the Bloor St. Culture Corridor offer a wide variety of accessible cultural experiences, including museum experiences, films, concerts, art exhibitions, theatre performances, family events, classes and culture talks, and opportunities to experience some of Toronto's cultural diversity, including French, Jewish, Italian, Estonian, Japanese and Aboriginal arts and culture. Find out about the events taking place along the Bloor Street Corridor by visiting their website. The objective of the Bloor Street Culture Corridor Lab is to go beyond traditional notions of what makes a neighbourhood and to reshape both thinking and interaction. It will be focused on developing connection, collaboration and community between the Bloor St. Culture Corridor cultural organizations and the neighbourhood ecosystem.

Halifax, NS: Nova Scotia, a small but mighty province, is bursting at the seams with culture. The province celebrates many cultural traditions that have deep roots in Nova Scotian history, including those of the Mi’kmaq, Acadians, Gaels, and African Nova Scotians. The province also has a vibrant contemporary cultural life with first-class musical and dance ensembles, galleries, theatre companies, arts and craft makers and cultural organizations. For the first time, the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University is teaming up with Culture Days to celebrate its 130th anniversary and Canada’s 150th with live music, art demos and community-focused activities. This Innovation Lab is examining outreach efforts in Halifax and region to increase levels of Culture Days participation and generate effective collaborations. 

Richmond, BC: Richmond is the fourth largest city in BC, just 25 minutes south of downtown Vancouver and 25 minutes north of the United States border - a city of stunning mountain vistas, beautiful waterfront sunsets and vibrant urban living. Its cultural attractions range from culinary to scenic and everything in between. With dozens of Culture Days activities planned across the city, Richmond is participating in the Innovation Labs as a Beta-tester of the community Culture Days pages. Visit Richmond’s Community Web page.

Flin Flon, MB: Flin Flon is a mining town on the border between Manitoba and Saskatchewan with a population of just over five thousand people. This year, Flin Flon plans to host 150 events to commemorate Canada’s 150th birthday. The Flin Flon Arts Council aims to increase and to diversify the opportunities for citizens of Flin Flon and the surrounding area to enjoy and to participate in cultural activities. Flin Flon is participating in the Innovation Labs as a Beta-tester of the community Culture Days pages. Visit Flin Flon’s Community Web page.

Prince Albert, SK: Prince Albert is the third-largest city in Saskatchewan and is situated near the centre of the province on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River. Prince Albert is often referred to as the “Gateway to the North”. This culturally rich community draws visitors who want to hike the city’s beautiful trails, canoe, camp, fish and hunt in the spring, summer and fall, or sled, ski, snowshoe, ice fish or hike in the winter. Prince Albert is participating in the Innovation Labs as a Beta-tester of the community Culture Days pages. Visit Prince Albert’s Community Web page.

Milton, ON: Milton is one of Canada’s fastest-growing communities. Located in Southern Ontario, Milton is part of the Halton Region in the Greater Toronto Area. Milton is a thriving Culture Days hub and typically hosts dozens of activities throughout the city. The Milton Centre for the Arts is the community’s cornerstone for creativity where residents and visitors can ignite their imagination with performing, visual, media and literary arts experiences. Milton is participating in the Innovation Labs as a Beta-tester of the community Culture Days pages.
Visit Milton’s Community Web page.

The National Advisory Committee is also leading an Innovation Lab called Competing vs Collaborative Event: Studying the impact of Canada 150. Culture Days has a unique opportunity in 2017 to provide resources and support for organizers to maximize the potential benefit of co-branding Culture Days with Canada 150. This Innovation Lab will study the impact Canada 150 celebrations may have had on the strength of the campaign, which will inform future decisions to co-brand or collaborate with other events.