In light of COVID-19, it’s a little bit different planning events for Culture Days 2020. Some aspects of this resource, like finding a venue, have lost some of their importance as we all shift our focus to digital platforms and Do-It-Yourself alternatives for events. Find the text highlighted in yellow for special information related to this year.
You can find the latest info about our response to the crisis here
Once you have decided to put on a Culture Days event, there are some steps to go through in order to plan it effectively and ensure that everything runs smoothly leading up to and during your event.
Finding a venue
If you’d like to participate in Culture Days but are unsure how to find an appropriate space to host a public event, we’ve drafted a list of places to start your venue search below.
If the physical location of your event is no longer relevant because participants will be attending remotely, an important factor to think about can be the online venue where your program will take place. You can find more information about the different platforms available in our Online Programming resource (coming soon).
Check-in with other Culture Days event organizers
Using the search function and map view at culturedays.ca, approach cultural organizations in your area that are already presenting their own Culture Days events. Ask if they have some extra space (for instance,m in their spare studio, lobby, lounge, meeting room or in front of their building) to include you. There’s a much greater chance of attracting large crowds to sites where multiple events are taking place and, of course, bigger crowds are good for both you and your host. If three or more events are grouped together in one location, you can register it as a Culture Days hub.
City Hall, Parks, and Plazas
Contact your municipality for information about permits and usage of City Hall, parks and plazas. Many municipalities are already involved in Culture Days and may offer spaces to artists in municipal venues. If you are planning an outdoor event, consider an indoor contingency site in case of rain.
Community Centres come in a broad range of shapes and sizes—some are owned and operated by municipalities, while others are independent not-for-profit organizations. Some are focused on health and athletics while others deliver social programs. Regardless, all Community Centres are places for the public to gather, learn, share, and play, so they make for great venues for Culture Days events.
Universities, Colleges, and Schools
Educational institutions have many kinds of public spaces including large lecture halls, classrooms with multimedia tools, cafeterias, student common areas, studios, rehearsal spaces, and performance halls. Likewise, some public school districts allow auditoriums, gymnasiums, and classrooms to be used by community groups after school hours. Contact your school district or your local school to find out more. If you are an artist who already works in the education system, Culture Days is a perfect opportunity to combine your teaching role with your artistic practice. As well, Culture Days is a chance to develop new relationships with schools in your community and share your artistic knowledge with students. Discuss with professors, teachers, or principals how your event could fit into their curriculum objectives. Note: with summer school holidays, it’s important to connect with schools in the spring to plan Culture Days events for September.
Places of Worship
In many neighbourhoods there are underutilized churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and other places of worship. Their main halls often have excellent acoustics for musical events and most also have smaller multi-purpose rooms. Your event does not have to be religious in nature since, as community-run organizations, most places of worship welcome opportunities to be an active part of their neighbourhood.
Cafés, Bars, Stores, Malls, and other Businesses
Talk to your favourite café, bookstore, bar or hangout about the work you do as an artist. Contact your local BIA to find out which of their members might be receptive to hosting your event. Explain how your Culture Days event could enliven their space and introduce their business to new customers. You might also be surprised how an unconventional venue sparks your creativity!
Contact your local BIA or the listed real estate agent to find out who owns empty storefronts in your community. Sometimes securing an empty storefront for a short-term project can be challenging but they make great pop-up venues so it can be worth the trouble. Explain to the BIA and storefront owner how Culture Days is a great way to revitalize a main street, downtown core, or under-appreciated area. When empty storefronts are creatively occupied, even temporarily, business owners start to see the potential in a property and the neighbourhood.
Libraries are not just for books anymore! Increasingly, libraries are engaging in all sorts of educational and family events. Many libraries have meeting rooms, small auditoriums, or courtyards that are appropriate to host Culture Days events. An added bonus: lots of libraries across the country participate in Culture Days and may be looking for organizers to join their efforts.
Your venue request
When asking someone about using their space, start by introducing Culture Days as a volunteer movement with the objective to encourage awareness, participation, and engagement of all Canadians in the arts and cultural life of their own communities. Position your request for a venue as a partnership that will be mutually beneficial to you, their venue, and the community at large.
Be clear about what you need in a venue and what your expectations are for your event. All publicly accessible buildings have liability insurance which should cover your needs for Culture Days programs. However, if you are dealing with a facility that is not normally open to the public, please check with them about public liability insurance.
Most importantly, be respectful of their space and show your thanks and appreciation.
Naming your event
A good event name is paramount to grabbing people’s attention and, most importantly, making them remember it. Selecting a good name is the first step in building a valuable online presence for your Culture Days event. On average, 80% of potential Culture Days participants in your event will read the name, but only 20% of them will read the rest. It goes almost without saying that a good name is like a good newspaper headline, it gives out just enough information to grab the reader’s attention - and makes them want more. The better the name, the better your odds of beating the averages!
So, what defines a good event name?
Good names are short, concise and easy to remember. You don’t want something too long, and it should fit nicely in the event listing or be easy to read on the event page.
Example: Imagination Station
Good names announce how unique your event is. You do not want something too generic or too bland—treat your name as a mini-advertisement for your event. Take at least a few minutes before hitting ‘Publish’ to not only make sure your description is in order but that your event name will do everything it can to maximize the chances that someone will engage with and ultimately participate in what you have to offer.
Example: Intro to Belly Dance – Join the Shimmy!
Example: Ridiculous Puppet Happening
So, with all that in mind, don’t forget to have fun! Making people laugh with a pun or a smart take on a common turn of phrase is a sure way to get your event to stick in their memory.
Writing an event description
The event description you register online is your introduction to the general public visiting the Culture Days website. It needs to hook people with a few sentences and entice them to attend. Here are some tips to help you write a great description. These can also serve as guidelines for issues and logistics as you get started on planning your event.
Think journalistically: provide who, what, where, when, why and how at the top of your description:
- Who are the artists, presenters and collaborators? Be sure to include the names of all the artists leading workshops, tours or talks once they are confirmed. Not only is it good to acknowledge their contribution, visitors to the website might know of them and want to attend for that reason.
- What is going on? Briefly describe the event on offer, and if there are multiple events happening at your location, don’t lump them all together. For instance, if there’s an open house, a hands-on workshop and a guest lecture all happening over the course of the weekend, register each as a separate event.
- Where your event takes place is indicated by where you place your marker on the map, and you can further provide a street address. While signage will be important on the weekend, be sure to indicate in the directions box any unusual instructions to find your location.
- When events occur (day, start time, and end time) is selected using the calendar function after you enter the event description. This means that you don’t need to include date and time in this description. However, an important detail to indicate is whether or not people can drop-in to your event or if it’s important that people arrive on time to participate.
- Why should the public want to attend your event? Tell them what makes it unique and interesting.
- How will the public engage? Avoid general words such as interact, participate, collaborate without qualifying in what way the public will get to do these things. For instance, instead of saying “the public will interact with craft artists,” say “everyone is invited to pick up a needle and a pair of scissors to be part of a community quilting bee.”
Try to keep your description short. Limiting yourself to three or four compelling sentences will usually convey all essential information for a single event without inundating the reader with too much text on the screen.
If this is an online or DIY program, include a clear description of how people will be accessing the content and be able to participate without being present.
Provide a web address if you have one. Visitors to the Culture Days site can click to your website to get background information about you or your group, art form, major career highlights, etc., so you don’t need all that information in your event description. This also provides you with a valuable cross-marketing opportunity.
Have someone else proofread it for typos, spelling mistakes, and grammar before you hit the “Publish” button.
Indicate if there is a target audience or preferred age group. Be clear that the craft studio is meant for kids, or the dance class is only for seniors if that is how you have conceived your event. You can also choose filters and tags like “Adults” or “Kids” so people searching for those specific types of events will see yours.
Take a look at other event descriptions of events similar to yours for ideas and inspiration. As a reader, you will discover what kinds of descriptions “hook” you more effectively than others.
Include a picture. An eye-catching image can go a long way to attracting the casual website visitor to your event and to set it apart from the crowd. You must include at least one image to publish an event. Be sure to carefully read our photo guidelines in the registration form before uploading.
Just a bit of reassurance: You don’t need to know all your event details from the start. When you register, you will see that your event is indicated as “Draft.” If you hit the “Publish” button, you are approving that the information is correct and ready to be viewed by the public. But don’t worry: even after you publish, you can go back into your event to make edits, so if details change, you can always adjust them and then re-publish. That said, the sooner you publish, the sooner your event can benefit from the Culture Days promotional campaign.
Start spreading the news
You can find customizable Culture Days templates for promotional materials by signing in to your Dashboard and visiting the Resources section. If you require marketing materials that have needs outside of the templates provided, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’d be happy to help you create something for you community.
The following timeline may be slightly altered in 2020 as we all respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
- Share resources and cross-promote your fellow event organizers to reach new audiences.
- Launch your local marketing initiatives.
- Continue building up your media strategy
- Promote your event on social media regularly.
- Hang posters, issue news releases, email your clients/members/friends, share your event on Facebook and Twitter!
- Create a welcoming, inviting space.
- Make sure your event is easy to find by using the customizable Culture Days posters.
- Track attendance, collect comments and contact information, and take photos! Share your favourite moments and pictures with us by linking to our social media accounts:
- Twitter: @CultureDays
- Facebook: @CultureDays.Fetedelaculture
- Instagram: @CultureDays
After Culture Days:
- Complete the Culture Days Organizer Survey. You will be invited to report on your Culture Days experience via an online survey shortly after the event. Have your say! Your feedback is key to ensuring that the movement grows and improves year after year.
- Email us your favourite photos to email@example.com. Be sure to include the credit line and photo description in your email.
- Strategize for next year—sometimes the best time to plan for next year is right after the weekend!