Culture Days Weekend Orientation 101
On September 11, Culture Days hosted the Culture Days Weekend Orientation Webinar, led by our very own Meaghan Froh Metcalf, Outreach and Program Manager, and Shannon Bowler, Communications and Operations Manager.
Culture Days weekend is coming up quickly, are you feeling ready? This webinar and quick refresher course covered key information and messaging for staff and volunteers working with the public during the Culture Days weekend. The Agenda included an introduction to Culture Days and how to talk to the public about the Culture Days weekend. The team also provided answers to frequently asked questions.
Don’t have time to watch the full video? Not a problem, we’ve summarized Meaghan and Shannon’s key points below!
WHAT IS CULTURE DAYS?
Culture Days is a nation-wide weekend to celebrate arts and culture in our communities. Culture Days weekend always takes place on the last weekend in September.
We encourage all Culture Days programs to be free, accessible, and participatory. The aim is that through finding ways to have the public actively engage in the arts, even if it just for one weekend a year, we will raise awareness, accessibility, participation, and engagement of Canadians in the arts and cultural life of their communities.
HOW WE WORK
The Culture Days structure is non-hierarchical, so we do not directly dictate or prescribe the programming taking place. Our national office works collaboratively with Culture Days staff in each province to develop the strategies for each year. The provinces also work closely year-round with community organizers who come from non-profit organizations, museums, historic sites, theatres, dance studios, etc. and are active in coordinating Culture Days efforts in their communities. These organizers choose to participate in Culture Days and support the participation of other independent artists and organizations in their community. As a result, we have thousands of people from across the country, hailing from a wide variety of disciplines, volunteering to coordinate programs for Culture Days.
We find that this open registration and non-hierarchical system works well because it allows room for people to adapt Culture Days to suit their own practices and interests, as well as the interests of their own community.
WHAT HAPPENS OVER THE WEEKEND?
Every Culture Days weekend features thousands of free, hands-on, interactive activities where the public can discover the world of artists, creators, heritage experts, architects, curators, designers and other creative professionals in their communities.
Organizers are encouraged to coordinate something that fits within their budget, their schedule, and their capacity. For some, this means creating large-scale events such as the School Days program in Winnipeg. This annual program takes place on the Friday of the Culture Days weekend, and invites students from the city and surrounding area to participate in a day of arts and culture at The Forks – a central park located downtown. For others, it is easier to find ways to create Culture Days programming within their own space. Koerner Hall in Toronto hosts an annual open mic event where everyone is able to book a time to have their few minutes of stardom while performing on stage. Many Culture Days activities, such as library programs, are smaller in nature, and are easily presented with the resources already available to organizers.
Organizers also have the opportunity to take part in the annual theme, a playful way to tether programs to a common idea. Themes also provide organizations the chance to repackage key content with a fresh feel, alleviating the risk of regurgitating redundant information. Although organizers are not required to structure their programs around the theme, many find unique and interesting ways to connect the theme with their own practices.
PROMOTION & MARKETING DURING THE WEEKEND
What we do on the weekend:
Culture Days supports organizers through providing resources, networking, and marketing assistance. Culture Days also offers a wide variety of free tip sheets, tools and other resources to support organizers in the successful planning, promotion and evaluation of their activities in the annual Culture Days weekend.
Throughout the weekend, we’ll be active on our social media channels:
- Posting across all platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram)
- Reposting and sharing highlights
- Livestreaming events
- Talking about the awesome things that we are seeing
What you do on the weekend:
Why should you talk about your event on Social media?
- Provides an additional point of access to the public for those who may not be on the Culture Days website
- Lets us know what is going on and allows us to share and promote your activities
Don’t forget to visit our nation-wide Facebook event for the Culture Days weekend; click “Attending” and share with friends and family. We also encourage you to share your registered events in the discussion as well.
Send us your photos! You can submit images captured at your Culture Days events directly through our website here. Tracking attendance over the weekend is also beneficial to you as an organizer to measure growth, and helps to inform our engagement strategies. Access the simple attendance tracker form here.
Most provinces have their own Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts too. You can look up the handle of your province. Important hashtags and links: @culturedays on Twitter and Instagram.
What is Culture Days?
- Culture Days is a national weekend to celebrate arts and culture, starting the last Friday of September. Any organizer, club, municipality, group or independent artist in any discipline can choose to take part by coordinating their own free and participatory public program(s) that take place during the Culture Days weekend.
- The goal of the weekend is to get Canadians out and celebrating arts and culture in their communities from cost-to-cost-to-coast.
Does Culture Days coordinate each program?
- No. Independent organizers choose to participate by coordinating their own programs for the Culture Days weekend.
- Culture Days supports organizers through providing resources, networking and marketing support. Culture Days also acts as the primary marketing campaign for the weekend by working with media outlets to drive the public to Culture Days events.
Who can participate in Culture Days?
- Anyone can participate in Culture Days! So long as you are coordinating an arts and culture event that is participatory and free to access, you can participate in Culture Days.
- We have all different types of organizers taking part, including museums, municipal culture departments, heritage groups, arts councils, local artists and super volunteers who want to support arts and culture opportunities in their communities.
How can I participate in Culture Days?
- First and most importantly, you have to coordinate an event for the Culture Days weekend. We’ve already given you a few examples and there are many more on our blog and Resource Pages. It is also important that you register your event on the Culture Days website. The website is where the public will go to see what is happening on Culture Days weekend, so it is important that they see your event. It also gives us an idea of what is going on in each community.
Why is Culture Days free?
- This event is free because Culture Days, and organizers such as yourselves, believe everyone should have access to arts and culture. In an effort to get every Canadian out and celebrating arts in their community, it is important to try and remove barriers to access, including cost.
This is the same reason that we encourage organizers to coordinate programs that are welcoming, accessible and participatory. The event isn’t just about celebrating your existing supports, but engaging new audiences by welcoming people who may not normally visit your site or take part in your programming.
It is our hope (and backed-up by independent research) that in welcoming new visitors during the Culture Days weekend, they will continue to play a more active role in arts and culture in their own communities moving forward.
AFTER THE WEEKEND
Keep in touch:
Although the weekend may be over, we want to celebrate culture 365 days of the year! Subscribe to our mailing list to stay abreast of all-things Culture Days and exciting announcements.
Sign up for our newsletter for monthly updates: https://culturedays.ca/en/signup
Lastly, don’t forget the survey!
Please take the time to encourage everyone to fill out the survey about the Culture Days weekend. This is where we can hear about your experiences as an organizer and the experiences of attendees at events. The feedback informs planning for the subsequent Culture Days and serves to improve everyone’s experience. Additionally, the survey statistics are shared widely to inform public opinion about arts and culture in Canada. Your opinion matters! Watch for an invitation to complete the surveys immediately following the Culture Days weekend.