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Five Tips for Hosting Culture Days On Campus

Tags: Tipsheet

On February 27, 2018, Culture Days hosted On Campus with Kim Dayman (Lakeshore Arts, Toronto, Ontario), Linda Hutchison, (NSCAD University, Halifax, Nova Scotia), and David Vivian, (Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario).

The session looked into Culture Days events taking place on university or college campuses. We discussed examples of organizers using the built-in infrastructure of educational spaces for their Culture Days programming, investigating sites that are creating events for their student body or local communities. 

Don’t have time to watch the full video? We’ve summarized Kim, Linda, and David’s top tips below!

1. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE BUILT-IN RESOURCES

As highly established, nationally-recognized institutions, colleges and universities lend themselves well as platforms for events such as the Culture Days weekend where community involvement and cultural visibility are paramount. Additionally, Kim Dayman notes that college and university campuses often come with a collection of valuable resources including:

  • Venue space (indoor and outdoor)
  • Marketing, Events, and Programming teams
  • Events-based funding and/or budget
  • Faculty and college/university staff
  • Direct access to the student body
  • An established relationship with the local Municipality

2. CREATE MEANINGFUL COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS

Aside from securing buy-in from on-campus groups and faculty, it is equally as important to create meaningful community partnerships for your Culture Days weekend activities. Linda Hutchison suggests that inviting local businesses, artists, organizations and individuals to collaborate is mutually beneficial, and makes for more dynamic programming that will attract a diverse participant group. Additionally, these partnerships can help ease the overall execution of your Culture Days weekend. For example, developing a community partnership with your local transportation service may lead to sponsored or subsidized shuttle-buses and transportation for your participants if the campus is expansive or events are taking place at multiple locations.

3. NO STUDENT CARD REQUIRED: MARKETING A CAMPUS TO A COMMUNITY

If you are creating events for your local community members, it is important to market your on-campus Culture Days weekend with them in mind. College and University campuses are spaces primarily used and visited by students, and the general public may not initially consider the local campus as a venue for free, open-to-all, arts and culture programming. With this in mind, it can be fun and effective to market your events as “behind-the-scenes” or “inside out” programs where the campus becomes a welcoming and exciting space for all community members to participate, learn, explore, and engage with arts and culture. Providing a special campus map with highlighted activities and stations is handy for anyone visitors who are unfamiliar with the campus layout. Tapping into local newspapers, radio stations, and social media platforms are great ways to get the word out. Does your campus have neighbours close by? Post card drops to local neighborhoods are a great way to market to your immediate community.

4. SEPTEMBER CAN BE SUPER BUSY - PLAN AHEAD!

It goes without saying that September can be a VERY busy month for colleges and universities. Frosh/Welcome week celebrations, Homecoming, Kick-off parties, and other university course events and programs on-campus along with additional off-campus and community activities don’t leave a lot of extra time for organizing and planning. David Vivian recommends getting a head-start with your Culture Days weekend event, such as creating a committee or task force in the spring and summer months. If you work on campus, think of Culture Days as an opportunity to show new or prospective students what a dynamic, creative, and inclusive campus you have.

5. KEEP IT FRESH

Your Culture Days weekend event can offer something for everyone! Walking tours, demonstrations, art book sales, and musical events are just some of the great activities that colleges and universities have offered on-campus for Culture Days in past years. Even tried-and-true programs and old favourites can be brought back by popular demand with a new, added twist or spin to keep the events innovative and fresh.