Participation Guide

In light of the continuing COVID-19 crisis, we have made some changes to the format of Culture Days, giving you even more ways to participate while staying safe. Please visit our FAQ page for detailed information on Culture Days 2021. Find the text highlighted in yellow for special information related to COVID-19.

Culture Days: September 24th - October 24th, 2021

Join thousands of creators and event organizers for a celebration of arts, culture, and creative expression with national impact.

Culture Days is the largest collective public participation campaign undertaken by the arts and cultural community in Canada. Every year, thousands of events are connected under the celebratory banner of Culture Days—communities large and small are united from coast to coast to coast to increase public engagement in cultural experiences through free, participatory arts and culture events. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the typical Culture Days weekend has been extended to a 4-week run and also includes online activities.

SPARK creativity.

BUILD community.

CELEBRATE nationally.

Are you in?

Over this 4-week run, organizers showcase the important role that arts and culture play in strengthening communities, the well-being of individuals, and the vitality of our social fabric. To see what last year’s celebrations looked like, check out our 2020 Highlights page.

View this as an investment in yourself or in your organization. Culture Days is a best practices organization with time-tested experience, insights, tips, and resources to share. All of the information shared is transferable knowledge that will reap benefits as you move forward.

-Russ Disotell, Brockville Arts Cooperative, Ontario

Read more About Culture Days and the other work we do as an organization year-round.

How to participate, get organized, and promote your events as part of the nation-wide Culture Days celebrations.

Suzette Vidale, Toronto, ON, 2018. Photo: Dweitt Lee.

Who can participate?

Anyone can organize an event and participate in Culture Days! Event organizers hail from the full spectrum of cultural creators—from grassroots community volunteers, public libraries, and independent artists, to major arts, culture, and heritage institutions, speciality festivals, and municipalities—and, there’s always room for more organizers!

Most common types of organizers in 2020:

Culture Days organizers all share one thing in common: a passion for community-building through arts and culture.

Get to know some of our past organizers from across the country. Curious if Culture Days is already celebrated in your area? Get in touch with your regional office. You can also check out the list of communities with the most Culture Days activities.



Is your event eligible?

In order for your event to be eligible for Culture Days 2021, it must meet the following criteria:

1. The arts and culture event is participatory.

  • This means that your event should involve some hands-on or behind-the-scenes element; it should allow participants to play a part in the creative process or offer something beyond a typical audience experience. Need some participatory ideas? Consult our Programming Ideas list.
  • If you are organizing an online event, there are still ways to involve the public’s participation through chat, Q&As, self-guided activities, etc.

2. It takes place during the designated Culture Days event run, September 24th - October 24th, 2021.

  • As long as the event occurs at least once over the course of the Culture Days dates, it will qualify.

3. It is registered on the Culture Days website.

  • This is how the public will find your event; register it for free. Activities can be registered as 2 different event types:

-In-person events

-Online activities

When publishing events, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are adhering to regional government COVID-19 rules and public health guidelines in your jurisdiction.

4. It must be free for the public to attend.

  • There should be no mandatory cost for entry to any Culture Days event—this ensures that all events are open and accessible to the public. Organizers may choose to also have a Pay-What-You-May (PWYM) option for admission, or solicit donations. Read more about our PWYM policy.

5. All events and activities must be hosted or organized by a Canadian-based organization, artist, or individual.

  • However, organizers are welcome to involve or collaborate with International artists or participants on their programs.
Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre, Whitehorse, YK, 2020. Photo: Mike Thomas.

How to register your event

To get started, create a Culture Days account. Once confirmed, you’ll gain access to your very own Dashboard (a kind of online toolbox) where you can find registration forms with step-by-step instructions, special resources, and more.

Registering your event allows you to:

  • Connect your event directly to thousands of others happening during the Culture Days 4-week run.
  • Tie your event in with the Culture Days advertising and marketing campaign, which brings in over 200 million impressions annually.
  • Take advantage of our new website’s geo-locating search and map system, which delivers your event listing directly to potential audiences.
  • Connect with new audiences by presenting events in different languages. While all events need to be registered in English or French, organizers across the Culture Days network present programs in an array of different languages.
  • Get on our radar! We’re always looking to boost interesting activities to the public eye, and the event listing is the first place we go to find them. Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and tag us as you plan your events! Visit your region’s page in the top menu to find more social media info.
Inglewood Community League. Edmonton, AB, 2020. Photo: Wild Heart Collective and Lance Cardinal.

Creating a Culture Days hub

Culture Days hubs are collections of events and programs that are connected geographically or thematically where audiences can expect to find various arts and culture-themed activities and experiences. Through the hub registration system, individual events can be linked to one another to form a hub with its own web page.

Some examples of Culture Days hubs include:

  • A public library hosting many different types of events
  • A Main Street or downtown public plaza that’s hosting various events along a walkable corridor
  • A Nuit Blanche-style event with installations covering a large footprint across downtown

If in-person events remain prohibited in your community this year, hubs can still be a useful tool—think of it as a landing page where you can gather and share all your Culture Days offerings in one place online!

Why create a hub?

Creating a Culture Days hub is a great strategy to increase awareness, attendance, and participation while:

  • Forming new partnerships with other community organizers
  • Optimizing how you showcase the varied arts and cultural activity in your area
  • Developing networking opportunities and strengthening long-term partnerships with fellow arts and culture organizations, artists, community members, and advocates
  • Increasing the likelihood of attracting additional media coverage, VIP guests, and cultural influencers
Lucky Girl Pop Up at Nuit Blanche Winnipeg, 2018. Photo: Liz Tran.

Pay-What-You-May policy

Culture Days updated its free admission policy in 2019 to include a Pay-What–You-May (PWYM) option for entry to Culture Days events. In doing so, Culture Days affirms its commitment to free admission as a means to reduce barriers to access, but recognizes that producing a Culture Days event incurs expenses—PWYM offers an avenue for cost recovery for organizers while keeping free admission as a requirement for participation.

It is expected that all proceeds collected by individuals or organizations through PWYM go towards event production costs, paying artist/presenter fees, or supplementing promotional or advertising expenses. PWYM should never be utilized to deny a member of the public access to an event, nor can it be used to enforce ticketed entry.

If you are organizing an online Culture Days program in 2021, the participating artist(s) can ask for donations through various platforms that enable a PWYM model for live-streams or online programs. You are also welcome to include links to any other site to collect donations. Read more about this in our Online Programming resource.

If you’re an organizer, there is now a check-box allowing you to list that your event accepts PWYM donations for admission.

Culture Days resources

Every year, Culture Days creates resources and tools to help you make the most of your Culture Days experience. Looking for ideas or promotional tools? Check out our Resources section.

Creating your own account will give you access to customizable templates (posters, postcards, buttons, online banners and more!) that you can use to spread the word. Find these in your Dashboard.

We also produce an ongoing webinar series highlighting issues, case studies, and best practices within the non-profit sector. Visit our Webinars section.

Happy planning!

If you have any further questions about organizing your Culture Days events, or if you want to bounce some ideas off of us, please Contact Us.

Library and Old Town Hub, Newmarket, ON, 2018. Photo: Kevin Jones.