Find general updates and information regarding COVID-19 on the Culture Days 2020 page.

Getting Ready for Culture Days

In light of COVID-19, getting ready for Culture Days in 2020 looks a little bit different but this doesn’t mean you can’t get your community excited about the celebrations! Some aspects of this resource, like promoting your space and organizing info sessions, are not realistic as they stand. However, there can be temporary alternatives. Find the text highlighted in yellow for special information related to this year. We hope you can still use the information below to bring your community together and start getting ready to celebrate Culture Days in September.

You can find the latest info about our response to the crisis here.

It can be hard to know where your community should start when thinking about getting involved in Culture Days. On this page you’ll find all you need to get up to speed and get your community ready to engage more deeply with arts and culture over the Culture Days weekend.

Municipalities and Culture Days

Municipalities—urban, suburban and rural—have already played an important role in the growth of Culture Days which can be operated, in many respects, as a turn-key, customizable festival “template” to showcase and mobilize your local arts community.

Gateway Mall Urban Art Tour, Prince Albert, SK, 2018 Photo: Wilna Furstenberg

Here are a few things that you can do to spearhead the movement in your own community:

  • Get the word out about Culture Days to your local arts and cultural sector. Encourage local artists, artisans, arts organizations, festivals, galleries, museums, heritage sites, community arts groups, choirs, libraries, community centres, universities, colleges, schools, and cultural groups of all stripes to join the movement by registering an event.
  • Contact your provincial Culture Days representative about hosting and organizing an info session in your community about Culture Days. Invite representatives from your local arts sector as well as business improvement associations, local media, and politicians to work together to create an amazing Culture Days weekend. Info sessions can be held virtually while in-person gatherings are still prohibited.
  • Provide space in civic facilities to artists and cultural groups that want to offer Culture Days events. Parks, community centres, libraries, town/city hall, town squares, empty storefronts, heritage sites, and museums are all great locations for events. Be creative: consider opening up a space that is not usually open to the public as this tends to draw curious crowds. Make sure to follow the public health guidelines currently in place in your region and consider finding alternatives to in-person events.
  • Help to group events within walking distance of each other into hubs. You are likely to draw bigger crowds to Culture Days events if people are able to browse and sample a variety of drop-in events all in one easily accessible area. It’s also a great way to liven a main street, downtown core or an under-appreciated area of your community. Read more about hubs here. Even if events are not physically happening in close proximity, they can be grouped into a hub to highlight your community as a whole!
  • Discuss Culture Days with your local business improvement association (BIA) regarding how the arts and culture strengthen your community and economy. Encourage businesses to sponsor local Culture Days events by providing in-kind donations of space, materials, or promotion. The Creative City Network of Canada offer some valuable resources that can help you describe the social-economic impacts of supporting cultural development to business owners.
  • Develop partnerships with local media including community newspapers, regional radio stations, and local bloggers. The main components of the Culture Days national media campaign starts rolling out in August, but it’s the local on-the-ground coverage that will be key to ensuring that the residents of your community hear about the events happening in their own backyard.
  • To attract audiences to events, develop a marketing and public relations campaign to package your local Culture Days events together collaborating with other stakeholders such as your local Tourism office, Chamber of Commerce, and media partners.
  • When recruiting event organizers, tell them about your promotional plans. Public profile is a significant enticement to participate. Print advertisements in your local paper that list all the registered events with dates, times, and locations are an important incentive. By announcing the print deadline to be included in these marketing pieces, you create a great “carrot” for event organizers to register early! If you can provide Culture Days-branded handbills that list local events and/or posters to event organizers, they can distribute them as part of their individual promotional efforts and play a vital role in your overall campaign. Find poster templates and more in your Dashboard.
  • In August, be sure to invite your municipal councillors and Mayor or other elected officials to mark their calendars and attend Culture Days events taking place in your community. Culture Days events make for fun photo-ops and give politicians a chance to demonstrate active support and participation in the local arts and cultural life of their communities. Even if they cannot be physically present, officials can still participate in Culture Days, so make sure to invite them.
  • Your Mayor can make an official Proclamation for Culture Days. In Québec, where the inspiration for Culture Days originated, 536 municipalities have signed the official Declaration of Journées de la culture. And since Culture Days’ inception in 2010, many cities and towns across Canada have affirmed their commitment to arts and culture through officially proclaiming Culture Days. Find a proclamation template here, or in your Dashboard. Municipal proclamations are a great way to engage your city councillors, raise the profile of arts and culture in your community and attract local media attention.

Creating a Cultural Hub in your Community

Sites that use programming opportunities such as Culture Days can establish themselves as a cultural hub within their community. These locations have created multi-tiered events, often through partnership and collaboration, to provide a one-stop location where the public can gather and explore varying types of art forms and experiences. Culture Days spoke to program organizers who have successfully used this hub model, providing opportunities to learn more about their experiences, successes, challenges and advice to create a webinar. Watch it below:

Cultural hubs can be extremely beneficial. Here are a few things to remember:

Know your community

There are many reasons to create a cultural hub in your community, but always remember that it is your community—a unique collective of people and shared sense of place that is specific to your geographic locale. The success of the cultural hub is intimately linked to your understanding of how the community operates as well as what it needs and wants from a cultural space. This is true for both permanent and/or long-term establishments and pop-up and/or short-term cultural hubs, such as spaces created specifically for the Culture Days weekend.

Outline your goals

Whether you want to increase economic, event, and community vibrancy or build inclusive community partnerships, it’s important to determine your goals, intended impacts, and outcomes from the beginning. These goals will serve as the foundation for the creation of your cultural hub, and provide structure for your team and community partners.

Build creative partnerships

Creating a cultural hub can be a lot of work! It is paramount to build a stellar team of dedicated individuals and creative partnerships. Diversify your team and highlight each other’s strengths: determine who’s the best coordinator, communicator, and who has the tenacious spirit to keep the momentum going. Including a team member with strong ties to the local community and a conciliator will help to ensure effective public outreach and successfully mediate any issues that may arise. Once you’ve gathered your team, be sure to follow these keys to cooperation:

  • Provide structure to the team
  • Make others look good
  • Say “Yes” and contribute
  • Be willing to change your mind
  • Make the most of what you have

Anticipate challenges and adapt

Challenges will arise from both the outside in and the inside out. Funding, balancing of interests and contributions, permits and bylaw restrictions, tensions within the team, and venue issues are all possible disruptions. Anticipating these types of challenges and create strategies to adapt to changes is very important. One way to do so is by being pre-active. Being pre-active means putting yourself into opportunity mode, looking at predictable problems before they occur, and the preventing them from happening in the first place.

We will all experience some unexpected challenges in 2020 and will need to adjust accordingly. However, the situation can be turned into an opportunity to do something fresh and connect with new groups of people!

Market and promote your space

Karilynn Thompson, a hub organizer at cSPACE in Calgary, recommends allotting enough time in your planning timeline for marketing and promotion of your cultural hub. You put A LOT of work into the creation of your cultural hub, and now it’s time to share the space with your community! Plan to begin your marketing campaign 2-3 months ahead of the opening day and/or event weekend.

Creative marketing through various channels is ideal: multi-media posts to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube and shout-outs on appropriate webpages will reach a wide, digital audience. Looking for a more intimate strategy? Post-card drops to local neighborhoods are a great way to market to your immediate community.

Celebrate wins and plan for the future

Evaluating your cultural hub following the Culture Days weekend, or at designated performance-review periods, is a great way to see what works and what does not for your cultural hub. Implementing a feedback system for participants, team members, and community partners will provide you with excellent data for determining the sustainability and overall impact of the cultural hub.

Municipal Cultural Planning

For the staff of many cities and towns, Culture Days is an opportunity to coordinate arts programming that directly ties into their municipal cultural plan. Watch this webinar for advice about cultural planning for Canadian municipalities and how Culture Days can fit in to regional arts and culture strategies from Mirella Tersigni (City of Vaughan, Vaughan, Ontario), Matthew Thomas (City Proper, Toronto, Ontario), and Anna Whelan (Creative City Network of Canada, Vancouver, British Columbia).

Info Sessions

A Culture Days info session is a meeting that brings together various people who are interested in finding out more about participating in or supporting Culture Days such as local artists, professional and amateur arts and cultural organizations, municipal cultural staff, staff of local museums and libraries, Business Improvement Associations (BIAs) and local media. Generally Culture Days staff will be in attendance to give an overview of Culture Days, introduce this year’s campaign and to facilitate the meeting. They are also there to answer questions about how Culture Days can take shape in your community. Hosting an info session is a great way to get started with Culture Days and to kickstart your community’s involvement in the program.

In our Online Programming resource (coming soon), you can find a list of platforms that can help you host your info session virtually.

Choosing a Date and Time for your Info Session

Please consult with your provincial Culture Days staff when choosing a date and time to ensure they can be in attendance, make the necessary travel arrangements and support your efforts. Info sessions generally take place in the spring or early summer.

The Invitation List

The info session should be open to the public so that anyone who is interested in organizing a Culture Days event or potential supporters can attend. However, there are some key people you should make sure are invited. Culture Days is an opportunity to build new relationships across the community. Here are some ideas of who to invite:

  • Municipal Culture Department Staff
  • Other Municipal or Regional Departments
  • Municipal and/or Community Arts Council
  • Business Improvement Association
  • Local Businesses
  • Library Staff
  • Museums and Heritage Sites
  • Individual Artists
  • Arts and Cultural Organizations
  • Previous Culture Days Participants
  • Multicultural Groups
  • Art Schools
  • Public Schools
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Local Media
  • VIPs (Mayor, City Councillor, MP, etc.)
Catching Joy Exhibition, Etobicoke, ON, 2018 Photo: Mariana Versiani

Info Session Sample Agenda

While info sessions will be tailored to each community to ensure local needs are met, the following sample agenda provides an idea of the type of information that will be shared during the session.

About Culture Days
- Dates In 2020: September 25th - October 25th - National movement
- Free, participatory events that offer behind-the-scenes experiences and hands-on events
- Provide a couple of examples of events from different disciplines
- Overview of previous year’s statistics
- How to register

Culture Days Campaign Landmarks
- March, April, May: Info sessions/community planning meetings
- Late-Spring: registration launches
- Summer registration ramps-up
- Local registration/marketing deadlines
- August: national marketing campaign ramps up
- Early September (post-Labour day) - Marketing and media campaign kicks into full gear
- Culture Days weekend - last Friday of September and the subsequent weekend
- Mid-late September - Registration deadline
- October post-event surveys and collection of content for next year’s PR and marketing campaign

Campaign Media Partners
- National media partners
- Provincial media partners
- Local media partners if any

Support
- Provincial staff can assist with registration issues, directing to resources, answering general questions, etc.
- Peer-to-peer learning and exchange via Culture Days blog and social media

Suggestions for Success
- Create hub locations
- Plan a kick-off event a few days prior to Culture Days
- Gain local political support - mayoral or council proclamation

Discussion and Networking
- A chance for everyone to brainstorm ideas and identify opportunities
- A chance for attendees to connect with new possible collaborators or partners