Press Release

Ontario Culture Days Festival Announces the 2023 Spotlight Recognition Program Recipients Along With People’s Choice Award Winner

TORONTO, ON – November 21, 2023

The Ontario Culture Days Festival showcased over 1,200 free community events across all regions of Ontario, establishing itself as the province’s largest and most diverse celebration of arts, culture, and heritage this year in terms of quantity and geographic coverage. The three-week fall festival started on September 22nd and lasted until October 15th with events in 97 municipalities, including 13 regional Festival Hubs. Today, Ontario Culture Days is thrilled to announce the community recipients that created the best programming of the Festival, including the most-loved event as voted by the public.

The Spotlight Recognition Program is dedicated to honouring the exemplary efforts of individuals across Ontario who have hosted arts and culture events and activities for their communities, with categories including Best In-Person Program, Best Collaborative Program, and People’s Choice. This year, in its commitment to inclusivity, Ontario Culture Days introduces the Warren Garrett Inclusive Programming Award. This award acknowledges organizers who, through their leadership, have crafted festival programming aimed at breaking down barriers and nurturing a more equitable arts and culture sector in Ontario. The award is named in honour of Warren Garrett, founding board member of Ontario Culture Days and former Executive Director of Ontario Presents, recognizing his dedication as an arts leader and advocate for community cultural development. The honorees mentioned below demonstrate groundbreaking accomplishments in independent event creation and storytelling.

“Ontario Culture Days plays a pivotal role in building strong and vibrant communities, while promoting tourism throughout the province,” said Neil Lumsden, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. “Congratulations to the Spotlight Award recipients, who have demonstrated outstanding creativity and unwavering dedication in ensuring the best of Ontario’s artistic diversity is celebrated at this festival.”

The Ontario Culture Days Spotlight jurors reviewed each event to determine which organizers produced the most impactful programming.

For combining creative visions:

A Place I Call Home Halton
Organized by artist Faisal Anwar with the Town of Oakville, Town of Halton Hills, Town of Milton, Museums of Burlington & Halton Region
(Halton Region)

A Place I Call Home Halton was a community-driven artwork created and led by Oakville-based artist Faisal Anwar exploring the concept of "HOME" in the context of migration, societal changes, and instability. Participants were invited to share their interpretations of home through images on social media, contributing to a large-scale installation projected on walls and monitors in prominent locations within the Halton Region.

For creative participation in an enriching, safe and welcoming experience:

Dance Together Festival York Region
Organized by Dance Together Festival
(York Region)

The Dance Together Festival transforms public spaces and celebrates community through diverse and inclusive dance workshops, vibrant visual art and live music. The festival offers free workshops and events that centre on positive and accessible dance experiences. Dance Together Festival York Region 2023 offered nine free community workshops with local professional dance artists, as well as eight open studio sessions, open to all ages, levels and abilities. Presented in partnership with the Dance Together Project, Assembly Park, KasheDance, dance Immersion, York Region Arts Council, City of Vaughan, City of Richmond Hill and Richmond Hill Public Library.

For putting equity and accessibility at the forefront:

Daniel’s Café
Organized by Daniel Xia with City of Vaughan

Daniel’s Café (created by a youth living with disabilities), which took place at Pierre Berton Heritage Centre in Vaughan, was an interactive social club where participants could enjoy live music performances and play games specially designed for youth with intellectual disabilities, fostering social interaction and mental health awareness. The program aimed to provide services to the marginalized population with disabilities including Autism, Down Syndrome, and others with mental disabilities.

Voted by the people of Ontario, the People’s Choice Spotlight is given to:

World of Threads
Organized by World of Threads Festival with City of Oakville

World of Threads Festival is an international showcase of local, national, and international contemporary fibre and textile art, with thematic group exhibitions, solo shows and installations throughout Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre in Oakville. Festival 2023 features 426 artworks by 115 artists from 15 countries and is a celebration of art primarily made by women. It is run and curated by Dawne Rudman and Gareth Bate, with the help of a team of dedicated volunteers.

To see the full recipient list, please visit the Ontario Culture Days website here.

About Ontario Culture Days:

Ontario Culture Days is a not-for-profit organization that celebrates artists and cultural groups in our communities.

The Ontario Culture Days Festival is an annual celebration of arts, culture and heritage taking place each fall across the province. Each year, we work with organizers of all disciplines to produce this province-wide festival. Organizers host programs throughout Ontario and invite the public to participate for free. The next Ontario Culture Days Festival will take place between September 22nd to October 15th, 2023.

Ontario Culture Days lives at the local level. We support organizers from the smallest hamlets to the largest cities while coordinating with other national and provincial Culture Days partners. We support the success of our sector colleagues through resources and network development while highlighting the breadth and heterogeneity of Ontario’s arts and culture to the wider public.

A sincere thanks to Ontario Culture Days’ supporters, including Ivy Charging Network, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), VIA Rail Canada, Arterra Wines Canada, Destination Toronto, Destination Northern Ontario, Star Metroland Media and the Toronto Star.  

These programs would not be possible without the support of the Government of Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Province of Ontario, the Ontario Arts Council, the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, and the Toronto Arts Council.

The Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund is a program of the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, administered by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund Corporation.

For further media information, contact:

Deanne Moser. 647.888.9388