Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Culture Days is Approaching: What Kind of Contribution Will Hamilton Have?

Imagine a month-long national cultural festival, with over two million attendees and free activities and performances coast to coast.

Imagine an event where attendees report a strongly impacted appreciation for arts and culture, an increased likelihood to seek out arts and culture events in their area and an increased sense of community pride.

This concept is not a lofty dream; an event that accomplishes all of this actually exists. Culture Days was started in 2010 by some of this country’s leading arts organizations. Although the celebrations were previously over a three-day period starting the last Friday of September, in 2020 and 2021, the time period of the festival has been expanded for an entire month from September 24 to October 24 in order to accommodate online programs and provide flexibility as the pandemic continues.

Inspired by the joy, escapism and hope that arts and culture have provided over the past eighteen months, the 2021 Culture Days is imagining what a post-pandemic world could look like, and how everyone can contribute to a brighter world. Appropriately, the theme of this year’s Culture Days is RE:IMAGINE; a commitment to building tangible change into the future of arts and culture.

For event organizers, Culture Days provides resources to support events through their website and participation guide. Municipalities, individual artists, collectives or organizations are all able to participate and become part of the national movement- all it takes is a free, or pay-what-you-can participatory event that is open to the public.

In recent years, the only participation in Hamilton has been through the public library, which has not only offered events, but also served as a hub; connecting programs through their geographic reach and network. As of the date of this article’s publication, only three events are listed for Hamilton during the four-week period of Culture Days.

However, it’s unlikely that the library, or those three events (two of which are scheduled at Studio K2) is the only venue holding events during this time period. Between workshops, gallery openings, concerts, meet-and-greets, virtual performances and more, numerous arts and cultural organizations, artists and makers are likely also holding events during the Culture Days time period- so why not take Studio K2’s lead and also benefit from the free resources and publicity offered, while simultaneously contributing to a national movement?

To participate, organizers and hosts should read Culture Days’ Participation Guide as a first step. The guide offers highlights of past years events, provides inspiration and ideas of potential activities. There are also a number of statistics and data available for participants on the impact of events. Organizers can then register their event(s) on the Culture Days website.

The October Art Crawl on James Street North; a virtual poetry reading or storytelling event; a public art walking tour. All of these would qualify as Culture Days events. All of these could receive national attention and help Hamilton live up to its desired reputation as a city that values and inspires artistic contributions on a national scale. 

In a city with as many artists as Hamilton, a greater collective contribution for Culture Days can be achieved. We can imagine it. We can execute it. We can make it happen. And we can be a part of the national movement that is Culture Days.

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