Press Release

Ontario Culture Days Announce Eight New Creatives in Residence Plus a Theme for the 2024 Series

Artists will showcase the “Heartbeat” of Ontario to celebrate the program’s fifth anniversary.

(MAY 27, 2024) TORONTO, ON

Today, Ontario Culture Days (ONCD) announces eight new Creatives in Residence ahead of the September 20th – October 13th Ontario-wide festival. 2024 marks the fifth year celebrating the Creatives in Residence program, which has become an integral part of the annual festival to which many visitors look forward. In 2024, the Creatives in Residence series revolves around the theme of Heartbeat. Drawing inspiration from Don Kwan’s Heartbeat of the Valley and utilizing reclamation, research, gathering, and interventions, these multidisciplinary artists incorporate personal and collective experiences.

“Every year, we seek out creativity in local Ontario communities through the Creatives in Residence program,” says Ruth Burns, Executive Director, Ontario Culture Days. “This year, projects are featured under a curatorial banner, titled Heartbeat. Heartbeat evokes energy, the sound of drumming, passion, and strength. The theme reflects the diversity of creative expressions that makes arts and culture in Ontario distinct and remarkable. We look forward to sharing these incredible projects with Ontarians during our Fall festival.”

Creatives are selected to participate in a 5-month long residency program, where they collaborate with local institutions and communities to create new multidisciplinary work. Their results culminate in installations, performances, and community-based activities presented during Ontario Culture Days in the Fall.

During the three-week festival, these artists will bring audiences together in communities across Ontario:

Creatives in Residence 2024

Aaron Jones (Scugog and Toronto) is an artist, curator, and entrepreneur whose lens-based work confronts the multifaceted nature of Black identity, nationality, culture, belonging, and personal modus operandi. For his residency, Jones will create an interactive art installation and performance, Sky Mirage, featuring an airborne mirror, offering viewers a space in the sky (to see each other) — an ode to self-reflection and the sky’s endless possibilities. Jones will lead large-scale group performances on the shores of Lake Scugog and under Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway at The Bentway. Sky Mirage is an entry point for the participants to get intrigued about floating, inflation and aviation.

Reilly Knowles (London) will present the project Magic Circle for Earth Communion with an exhibition and workshop at Museum London. This large textile is a response to an illustration in The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, an influential handbook of magic used by settlers in Waterloo County as late as the 1950s. Knowles explores these folk magic and textile traditions in a “magical” sewing and patterning practice that seeks to reformulate our relationship to land.

Don Kwan (Westmeath, Whitewater Region) will launch a new community event in his adopted hometown of Westmeath in Whitewater Region in the Ottawa Valley. Kwan celebrates diversity and spotlights the visual and performative power of the arts within rural communities. For his residency project, Heartbeat of the Valley, Kwan will gather locals for a community event featuring Success Dragon Lion Dance Troupe, China Doll, Zaneta Pernicova, and Thunderbird Sisters Collective.

Lucia Laford (Waawaaskone Kwe) (Sault Ste Marie) will create a multi-site art installation and host a gathering in the city’s downtown core. Incorporating sculpture and Woodland-style painting, this project titled Dibaajimo. She tells a story. speaks to the process of reclaiming culture, and the Indigenization of city spaces.

Vik Mudge and Skye Rogers (St. Catharines) will work with dancers of all abilities to create community-generated choreography. The project titled Composing Community will feature two public creation workshops and will be followed by a dance showcase at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, Robertson Theatre, St. Catharines.

Yasmeen Nematt Alla (Toronto) will present her residency project on the final weekend of the festival, in an open performance in Toronto. Yasmeen will invite the public to come together in a one-time kite flying event titled Thread that Tangles but doesn’t Knot. Through this community event, in which red kites may fail or soar, Nematt Alla will ask: “What does it mean to be a kite that never takes flight? What does it mean to materialize a kite that will never fly, despite an undeniable abundance of wanting, of reaching, of hoping?” The community event will take place at Woodbine Beach Park.

Camila Salcedo (Toronto) is a Venezuelan-born interdisciplinary artist currently working primarily in textiles, digital art, and community arts. For their residency, Camila presents UPCYCLED: Camila Salcedo & Iconography of the Venezuelan Diaspora. This installation features large-scale self-portraits of the artist wearing upcycled wearable artworks that reflect their Venezuelan pop culture. Salcedo’s portraits are staged in various Toronto neighbourhood locations, including bodegas, parks, and other establishments.

Jennifer Willet (Point Pelee National Park) presents Baroque Biology, her residency project that will unfold as an outdoor art and science fair on Point Pelee. Willet invites attendees to explore the interplay between the laboratory, the creative process, and the ecosystem of the southernmost point of Canada’s mainland. The Community event and science fair encourages locals and visitors to discover something new in this truly unique ecosystem.

Program partners include 401 Richmond, Art Gallery of Algoma, City of St. Catharines, East End Arts, Museum London, Scugog Arts, The Bentway, Toronto Public Library, and Town of Oakville. A full list of partners and feature events will be released in the fall.

Heartbeat was curated by Ruth Burns with Kyrstiana Bourdage, Noor Khan and Kaitlyn Patience.

Ontario Culture Days will take place between September 20th to October 13th, 2024, across the province of Ontario.

For more information on Ontario Culture Days, visit our website at

Photos of the 2024 Creatives in Residence can be found 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 20th to October 13th, 2024.

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 diversity of Ontario’s arts and culture to the wider public.

A sincere thanks to Ontario Culture Days’ supporters, including the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) and the Toronto Star. Our programs have benefitted from the support of Arterra Wines Canada, VIA Rail Canada, Destination Northern Ontario, and Destination Toronto. 

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

For further media information, contact:
Deanne Moser
(647) 888-9388