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Spotlight on Ontario Culture Days 2018

The Spotlight Recognition Program is an opportunity to shine a light on exemplary Culture Days initiatives. Spotlights celebrate innovative and accessible public programming in the spirit of the Culture Days weekend.

We are excited to trumpet the achievements of the many organizers who work diligently throughout the year to create fantastic events, while helping to inspire others with impactful stories and program examples.

Spotlight nominees were determined by public nomination in September and October, with the winners chosen by a committee made up of experienced Culture Days organizers from across the province. The People's Choice award was determined by a public vote of our facebook page in November.

The winners of the 2018 Spotlights are listed below. Congratulations to all the winners and runners-up!

People's Choice

Photo: Norval Community Association

Kairos Blanket Exercise presented by The Norval Community Association, Town of Halton HillsWinner

The Norval Community Association hosted a Kairos Blanket Exercise as part of the Culture Days weekend in the Town of Halton Hills . Developed by Kairos in response to the 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the Blanket Exercise covers over 500 years of history in a two hour participatory workshop.

As part of the exercise, participants were invited to take on the roles of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Standing on blankets that represent the land, they walk through pre-contact, treaty-making, colonization, resistance, and culture appropriation. By engaging on an emotional and intellectual level, the Blanket Exercise serves as a tool for education and empathy. The exercise is followed by a debriefing session in which participants have the opportunity to discuss the experience as a group with the facilitators.

Photo: Michael Billy Boyce

Art Gallery of Algoma and Indian Friendship Centre, Sault Ste. MarieRunner-up

Sault Ste Marie’s Art Gallery of Algoma and Indian Friendship Centre partnered together to host programs over the Culture Days weekend. A Medicine Walk invited visitors to walk with hosts from the Friendship Centre along the shores of the St Mary’s River. The program guides taught participants about natural medicines and edible plants that traditionally grow in the region.

At the Art Gallery of Algoma, performers from the Friendship Centre filled the space with the sounds and artistry of Jingle Dress Dancers. According to gallery staff, everyone in the building was drawn to the sounds of the drumming in the gallery, making for a very special day.

Best Hub

Photo: Burlington Centre for the Performing Arts

Burlington Centre for the Performing ArtsWinner

The Burlington Performing Arts Centre hosted Burlington's first Cultural Diversity Festival, supported by The City of Burlington's "Cultural Diversity Initiative". Together with local cultural partners, including the Black History Awareness Society and Redleaf Cultural Integration, BPAC presented a diverse line-up of performances, workshops, lectures, activities, demonstration for all ages.

Photo: Kathryn Jamieson

Perth Museum Hub – Runner-up

Culture Days saw every inch of the Perth Museum filled with activity. Outdoors, museum staff baked scones in the new outdoor baking oven. Inside the historic house, visitors could find textile-making demonstrations, a meet-and-greet with an author, and a new exhibition from The Perth and District Sports Hall of Fame.

Best Corridor

Photo: Sarah Trudell

Kingsville Main Street CorridorWinner

Kingsville expanded their Main Street Corridor in 2018 to include two full blocks of programming. The organisers did a great job at getting local businesses—including a barber shop, a butcher, and a seniors residence—to open up their doors and host arts programming during this exciting Saturday.

Photo: Town of Halton Hills

Halton Hills Georgetown Corridor – Runner-up

Not only did the Halton Hills Georgetown Corridor act as an excellent link between the bustling Farmers Market, Library and Cultural Centre, it also connected the audience with programming at participating venues throughout the downtown. Volunteers at the Market were available to answer questions and give directions, while live music and outdoor workshops ensured the downtown felt lively and engaging to passersby.

Best Exemplification of the Theme

Photo: National Arts Centre

Pow wow Step Groove with Josée Bourgeois at the National Arts Centre, Ottawa Winner

Algonquin dancer Josée Bourgeois guided participants through modern Pow wow drum music sampled with techno/house music and remixed by Mohawk artist, DJ Shub. With a mix of traditional dance movements, Hip Hop and contemporary dance movements, this class was perfect for experienced dancers, total beginners, and everyone in between.

Photo: Town of Halton Hills

OnBeat in the Hills, Halton Hills – Runner-up

Three prominent Halton Hills musical groups joined forces to offer a unique magical, musical evening. OnBeat in the Hills was organized by The Halton Hills Concert Band, The Georgetown Choral Society and the Gaudeamus Choir. Participants were invited to experiment with the instruments, try their hand at conducting, or sing along with the choir.

Best Partnership

Photo: City of Barrie

Performing Musicians Showcase, BarrieWinner

In partnership with the City of Barrie, the Downtown Barrie Business Association and Ontario Musicians Cooperative, the Performing Musicians Showcase featured emerging musicians performing on the street corners of downtown Barrie. This program supported local revitalization efforts by creating a lively and dynamic atmosphere in the city's core.

Photo: Teri Dawson

Lyndhurst Art and Culture TourRunner-up

The Lyndhurst Art and Culture Tour showcased 13 venues and a wealth of local musicians, artists and artisans. The group put together their own tour map and website with recommendations on places to stop, sights to see, and recommended restaurants to visit. Points of interest also included the Barn Quilt Trail, a collection of murals mounted on barns and historic houses throughout the community.

Outstanding Participatory Programming

Photo: Sabina Ansari

Pathways: Choose Your Own Adventure, with Making Room Community Arts, TorontoWinner

Making Room is guided by its core value of radical inclusion, using arts as a way of community engagement and relationship building. 'Pathways: Choose Your Own Adventure' was a culmination of two summer workshop series, and brought together diverse community members at a park in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood to share in community art, music, and food.

Photo: Ward 1 Studios

Culture Hub and Makers Market, GuelphRunner-up

Guelph invited visitors to its City Hall and Market Square for its second annual Culture Hub and Makers Market. Programs—including pottery, paper marbling and sparked conversation—encouraged collaboration and celebrated creativity. Space was offered to vendors free of charge, no commission was taken on any sales, and all activity organizers were paid for their time. The result was a well attended, highly engaged celebration of #GuelphCulture!

Removing Barriers to Access

Photo: Alejandra Higuera

"The Stories of Us," Department of Imaginary Affairs, TorontoWinner

The Department of Imaginary Affairs seeks, collects, and shares the stories of newcomer Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Every story helps us learn more about the people who live in Canada. In collaboration with Culture Days @ the Library, the Department of Imaginary Affairs held a workshop/program entitled “The Stories of Us”. Newcomers of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds were encouraged to attend the afternoon program, connect with one another, and share their stories of coming to Canada. The goal of the project is to collect said stories to eventually build an ESL library of journeys for all readers to enjoy.

Photo: Liz Cooper

Kingston BAG Project, The Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning – Runner-up

The Tett Centre hosted The Begin Again Group (B.A.G. Project) who creates eco-friendly, vegan purses and designer bags, made out of recycled rubber. This group of talented Kingston newcomer artisans invited participants to try their hand at creating and designing parts of handbags. A display of completed bags, which represent new beginnings, were on view and up for sale, and the artists took turns sharing aspects of their cultures with participants. The Begin Again Group is a collaboration between newcomer refugee women, Bon Eco Design and KEYS Job Centre in Kingston, Ontario. 

More about Spotlight

The 2018 Spotlight categories are:

  1. Best exemplification of the theme
  2. Best hub
  3. Best corridor (more information on Hubs and Corridors can be found here)
  4. Best partnership or collaboration
  5. Outstanding participatory programming
  6. Removing barriers to access
  7. People’s choice

Click on each Spotlight to learn more.

Spotlight About this Spotlight
Best exemplification of the theme

OnBeat is a collective drumming and rhythm-inspired theme developed for the 2018 Culture Days weekend. This year, a theme was selected to provide an easy and versatile access point for organizers to plan their Culture Days events.

This category celebrates organizers who fully adopted the key messages of OnBeat to create a unique program and/or incorporated the theme into their pre-existing artistic practice, program(s) or event(s).

Best hub

About this Spotlight: From dynamic cultural centres to local hangouts, arts and culture hubs can take many forms. Hubs provide centralized destinations for people to visit, and are often made up of unique consortiums of collaborative cultural programs in a shared space. Think parks, public plazas, museums or community centres.

Best corridor

A corridor is an arts and culture cluster typically associated with an outdoor setting. Replacing a single, centralized site with a locus of programs and events that are in close, walkable proximity to each other, corridors often take shape in neighbourhoods or main streets.

This Spotlight is for organizers who successfully created a hub in their community. A corridor must have three or more activities happening in close proximity to each other during the Culture Days weekend.

To be eligible, nominees must have produced a corridor in Ontario during the 2018 Culture Days weekend. 

Best partnership or collaboration

Culture Days is a great opportunity to create unique and impactful partnerships and collaborations. Bringing together a collection of diverse artists, organizations, businesses and venues helps to cross-pollinate the dynamic arts and cultural activity in the community. These collaborations allow for unique and unexpected intersections.

To be eligible, nominees must have produced a program in Ontario with one or more partners or collaborators during the 2018 Culture Days weekend. 

Outstanding participatory programming

Culture Days is an opportunity for us all to share in the benefits of creativity. Participatory programs encourage audience members' own creativity and build more meaningful relationships between artists, organizers and the general public. Some great examples of participatory programs include community arts projects, workshops, hands-on activities, or conversations with an artist. This category recognizes outstanding participatory programming that engages the visitor and creates opportunities for new experiences.

To be eligible, nominees must have produced a program in Ontario during the 2018 Culture Days weekend.

Removing barriers to access

There are many barriers that exist which stop people from participating in arts and culture, and unfortunately, such impediments frequently go unacknowledged. This category recognizes those who have created more inclusive and accessible programming. Some examples of initiatives that remove barriers to access include connecting with newcomers, highlighting deaf and disability arts, and providing transportation to support mobility restrictions.

To be eligible, nominees must have produced a program in Ontario during the 2018 Culture Days weekend.

Outstanding program marketins/promotion

Culture Days offers a wide variety of resources to support organizers in the successful promotion of their programs. However, some organizers go above and beyond to develop unique and impactful marketing strategies for their programs. This award aims to recognize those who have created and implemented an outstanding promotion, which may include print, web, and social media campaigns.

To be eligible, nominees must have produced marketing materials for an Ontario Culture Days event during 2018. 

People's choice

The People’s Choice Spotlight is an open-category accolade that allows the general public to recognize any program and its overall contribution to Culture Days. Spotlight jurors will choose their top five nominations from the People’s Choice category and post descriptions of each on social media. The program that receives the greatest number of votes will be awarded the Spotlight.

To be eligible, nominees must have produced a program in Ontario during the 2018 Culture Days weekend.


Assessors chosen by Ontario Culture Days for their expertise in arts and culture will evaluate the nominations to select the laureates and finalists. Assessors include representatives from provincial arts service organizations, established Ontario artists, Culture Days staff and board members, and past Spotlight winners.

The nomination will be judged on whether it fits the Spotlight criteria, and whether or not it aligns with the requirements of all Culture Days activities to be free, participatory, and take place over the Culture Days weekend.