NEWS: Announcing "Culture Days"

Culture Days: Celebrating Arts & Culture from Coast to Coast. Culture Days is a collaborative Canada-wide volunteer movement to raise the awareness, accessibility, participation and engagement by all Canadians in the arts and cultural life of their communities.

The National Steering Committee, in collaboration with provincial committees, are self-mobilizing at the grassroots level to collaborate in the implementation of concurrent annual province-wide, and free public participation events each September beginning in 2010. In support of these annual provincial events, Culture Days will drive a major annual national communications & public relations campaign to help re-position arts and culture in the public eye.
Culture Days was initiated and is supported by the Canadian Arts Summit in collaboration with Culture pour tous (producer of Quebec's Journées de la Culture), The Banff Centre ,and with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts. 
We look forward to developing this exciting project further with your support and involvement and wish to take this opportunity to thank the hundreds of people who have contributed to the project's advancement thus far. Together we aim to affirm that the arts and cultural sector continues to grow as an inspiring beacon for all our communities across Canada. 
What does Culture Days Look Like?
 During three days each September, participating cultural groups and municipalities are encouraged to provide opportunities, free of charge, for the public to learn more about their particular cultural activity. The BC dates for September 2010 (Friday to Sunday) will be September 24 - 26 to coincide with events across the country. Cultural groups, who want to attract new audiences or engage more participants, can open their doors for a few hours or more to provide free, interactive cultural experiences or demonstrations that are open to the public as part of this nationally promoted Culture Days initiative.
Cultural activities can be as simple as holding an open house for a few hours, providing demonstrations for school groups, offering opportunities to learn about a particular cultural heritage, or having cultural worker’s open up their studios. 
Others might want to give guided tours, hold a workshop, or give a public performance. The opportunities to promote cultural activity in British Columbia are endless!
 
Where Are We?
Many Provinces across Canada are participating in the 2010 launch of the national project, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nunavut, PEI and Quebec. In most cases, the provincial government and/or private sector has provided substantial financial and in-kind support to facilitate the participation of its cultural and arts communities in this Canada-wide event. Fully participating provincial partners have developed paid positions tasked with leading and coordinating local partnerships, fundraising, promotional campaigns and outreach to their cultural and creative sectors and civil society. 
We are not quite there in BC.
A nascent BC volunteer task force has been formed, however, and continues to grow to represent broader communities. This task force is seeking ways to raise funds through public and private investors and to gain broad and inclusive support, partnerships and participation.  Conversations have occurred with the BC Arts Council, Provincial Art Service organizations and with existing community engaged projects such as BC Culture Week and The BC Culture Crawl.
The Alliance for Arts is taking a lead in initiating a provincial dialogue, to encourage participation and to identify stakeholders and community champions.
But can BC participate as a full provincial partner in the 2010 inauguration? There seem to be other issues on our minds these days. With the current funding crisis and the unknowns about future funding, we cannot realistically expect that this project will be un-reservedly embraced by a beleaguered cultural sector.  
As such we have not proactively sought to tap the already scarce resources out there for this year, but we do recognize that individual arts groups may be eager to participate. Current consultations with the broader arts and cultural community suggest that the best course of action is for BC to plan to “officially” participate in 2011 and remain “low-key” in 2010.   This means we are not fundraising for 2010 or seeking to mount an extensive local media or promotional campaign, but will focus on securing the necessary resources, alliances and partnerships for the 2011 Culture Days.
Those organizations, individuals, municipalities and groups who do wish to participate in the inaugural edition are encouraged to do so. Interested people should take advantage of the national tools and PR opportunities provided. Participants do not need to develop new initiatives necessarily, but can plan to include existing ones during concurrent (BC) dates so that they can be included in the national campaign.
 
Why do we need Culture Days in BC?
This is an opportunity to work together to promote the value of arts, culture and heritage activities to British Columbians. We all know how important it is for us to develop relationships with our audiences and communities. Culture Days aims to be an inclusive national “movement” based initiative that relies on the collaboration and solidarity of the arts milieu and civil society in general.
This project may be seen as an excellent opportunity for our province to build deeper relationships within our communities and an opportunity to rally together in the long-term for the health and stability of our sector as well as to showcase/reinforce the invaluable contribution our arts and cultural sector (artists and creators) make(s) to our province, culturally diverse communities and all citizens. 
We have an opportunity to demonstrate what our sector contributes to the health, education, economies, and quality of life of our communities.
Culture Days provides an opportunity to encourage residents to explore new cultural activities, volunteer and celebrate culture in their own communities.
 
Who is involved in Culture Days?
Anyone who wants to be can be involved! 
Any cultural group, individual artist or cultural worker, including community-based, professional and those who work in heritage and creative industries who want(s) to provide one or more free, interactive, engaging cultural experiences that are open to the public during the last weekend of September, can register their event(s) in the Culture Days database at www.culturedays.ca
Each province has established its own Provincial Task Force to help guide the provincial Culture Days program; nationally, a Culture Days Steering Committee is guiding the National Culture Days public awareness campaign (from June to September each year); national sponsors include the Globe and Mail, which includes the development of Culture Days resources, a Culture Days web site and database, as well as the coordination of national partners.
 
How do groups or individuals in BC get involved in Culture Days 2010?
The Culture Days National office will make an “Open Model” activity registration system for Culture Days accessible to all across the country that will be on-line in March 2010.
This year, Culture Days in BC will take place September 24-26, 2010:
·         Sign up for Culture Days electronic updates at Subscribe to the Culture Days newsletter;
·         Identify an activity that you or your organization could promote to the public during Culture Days;
·         Ensure the activity is free, open to the public and provides an interactive engagement experience;
·         Register your event at: www.culturedays.ca

 

 

What about Culture Days 2011?
If you want to contribute or participate in preparing a collective and coordinated approach for BC to participate more fully in 2011, contact the Alliance for Arts and Culture by calling 604-681-3535 or e-mail us directly at info@allianceforarts.com, including the phrase “Culture Days 2011” in the subject line.
 
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