2022 Spotlight Recognition Program

The Spotlight Recognition Program celebrates exemplary programming taking place each year as part of the Ontario Culture Days Festival. This year’s categories celebrate the creativity and ingenuity of local organizers who have brought events to Ontario audiences.

Both event organizers and festival attendees are invited to nominate programs that they feel have exemplified the themes below. Organizers are welcome to nominate their own programs, as well as others.

Check out the winners below!


Best In-person Program

In-person programming often allows for deep, meaningful engagement. This award recognizes organizers who offered creative in-person participation that resulted in an enriching, but safe and welcoming audience experience.

Best Digital Program

​​Digital programming is so much more than pivoting online: it’s also about creating meaningful connection from a distance. This category looks at the ways organizers thought outside the box to create engaging experiences online.

Inclusive Programming

There are many barriers that exist which prohibit people from participating in arts and culture, and unfortunately, such impediments frequently go unacknowledged. This category recognizes those who have created more inclusive programming by putting equity and accessibility at the forefront.

Best Collaborative Program

Progress in arts programming is often fuelled by collaboration. The most unique events are the result of various artists or groups coming together to create something new. This category will recognize events hosted by two or more organizers, particularly interdisciplinary programming.

People’s Choice

People’s Choice is an open-category accolade that allows the general public to recognize any program and its overall contribution to the Culture Days festival. The nominee that receives the greatest number of votes online will be awarded the Spotlight.

2022 Winners

Photo by Sarah Arfan.


The Goldie Mill Ruins, an 1866 three-storey limestone building, was brought to life through an interactive art project which included community-made visual art, poetry, and music.The project began with an open call for poetry, which was turned into a choral composition with local singers.The final event featured painting projections, light, and ambient sound which  interacted with the audience’s movements and inputs, casting shadows on and animating the old building. This project is created by Guelph’s 2022 Artists in Residence: Sophia Chilton, Caleb Bray, and Silas Chinsen.

Photo © Mirna Chacín.


A series of exciting, accessible outdoor dance workshops to the York Region community , each included two diverse community dance workshops with music suitable for all ages and abilities. The styles included Cuban Fusion, Waltz, Ukrainian Folk Dance, Afro-fusion, Hip Hop, Salsa and more. This festival program was a collaboration between the Dance Together Festival artistic team and York Region Arts Council, in partnership with SmartVMC, City of Vaughan, YMCA at the David Braley Centre, City of Richmond Hill and Richmond Hill Public Library

Photo by Kaitlyn Patience.


Co-presented by the National Arts Centre and Aroha Fine Arts, this event was a bilingual  festival featuring the music, dance, visual, and culinary arts of India, making it the only of its kind in Canada. Activities included Bollywood, Lavani, and Bhangra dance workshops, immersive music concerts, a visual arts exhibit, and a virtual culinary segment.

Photo courtesy of City of St. Catharines.


The Drama Garden included five original, interactive and immersive performances devised by Carousel Players, a local favourite in the St. Catharines and Niagara Region. Audiences moved through the space as they visited one performance after another. The promenade style of The Drama Garden meant that participants chose their own path and sequence of experiences, and then interacted with those performative moments. Attendees came away with a greater understanding of the dramatic art form.

Photo by Maren Elliott.


This event brought professional performing artists to Saint Vincent Hospital’s complex care patients, who would not have otherwise had access to cultural events due to illnesses making it difficult to leave the hospital.

Performers included Blind Storyteller Kim Kilpatrick, jazz vocalist and Rwandan folk singer Empress Nyiringango, and pianist and Radical Connections Executive Director, Dr. Carol Wiebe. The artists featured were all part of Radical Connections Unmasked Connections program which facilitates virtual one-on-one performances and concerts for residents in long-term care homes.

Photo provided by Elizabeth Vargas.


The Sara Elizabeth Centre welcomed the public to view works by Special Needs Artists. Alongside this gallery exhibition was an all-ages and all-abilities paint night and a musical performance by Donny Smith. Attendees had the chance to mingle, work and paint alongside members of the special needs community in York. The organizer, Sara Elizabeth Centre, is an arts-based program dedicated to serving adults with intellectual and/or physical disabilities.

Photo provided by Yannis Lobaina.


To explore Spanish heritage, award-winning writer, emerging filmmaker and photographer Yannis Lobaina led participants through bilingual (Spanish and English) creative writing exercises and mixed media collages. This online workshop explored how Latin-Hispanics and other communities can honour the Latin-Hispanic heritage and their mother tongue.

Ottawa Gatineau Printmakers Connective: Online videos hub 2022. Photo courtesy of OGPC.


Members of the Ottawa-Gatineau Printmakers Connective (OGPC) offered a behind-the-scenes look at the complexities of printmaking and showed the importance of printmaking in contemporary arts. The hub offered three online, video-based events, where each artist  gave a behind-the-scenes look at their creative process for a piece in the ‘Migration in Print’ exhibition. This exhibition was then held in-person at Carleton University’s new Book Arts Lab over the three weeks of the Ontario Culture Days festival.

Photo courtesy the City of Vaughan.


The City of Vaughan proclaimed Oct. 4 Sisters in Spirit Day and held a vigil to honour the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people. Valarie King of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation facilitated the vigil and spoke about healing together, the importance of the day and how to take action. The event honoured and remembered missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people, supported grieving families, offered opportunities for healing, and centred the importance of reconciliation and cultural learnings.

Photo by Kyrstiana Bourdage.


This workshop was led by local indigenous artist Lucia Laford (Waawaaskone Qwe). The drop-in event encouraged participants of all ages to wrap a feather and learn about its cultural significance and teachings. On the day, more than 130 community members participated. The program paired with the Gathering in Honour exhibition featuring Lucia Laford and her late father and local artist John Laford, and in combination with the workshop, marked the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.