Photo Credit: National Arts Centre PowWow

Organizer Information

Ontario Culture Days Festival – September 23rd – October 16th, 2022.

Registration for Ontario Culture Days Festival 2022 is now open. Register your events here.

To be considered for inclusion in ONCD festival promotions and receive ONCD festival SWAG, events must be registered by July 31st, 2022.

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.

Are you interested in acting as an Ontario Culture Days organizer and leading your own festival program? Read below to find out more.

What is the history of the Ontario Culture Days Festival?

The first Ontario Culture Days festival was in 2010, and for the first 10 years, the festival was held over one exciting weekend. In 2020, the festival was extended to a multi-week celebration. In 2021,  there were 1,200 events in 99 municipalities across the province and 1 in 10 Ontarians attended events!


The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (NDTR) honours the lost children and survivors of residential schools and their families, endeavours to acknowledge and better understand the history and harms done and, as individuals and members of our communities, engage in actions that advance Truth and Reconciliation.

Accordingly, Ontario Culture Days has set September 30, 2022 aside to create space exclusively for events organized to commemorate the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, including those sharing First Nations, Métis, and/or Inuit experiences and perspectives celebrating the creative and cultural expressions of Indigenous people and communities.

In order to ensure that Indigenous voices and participation are central to any event planned for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, there will be additional questions for organizers to answer during the registration process. Find more information here.


When is the festival and how many events do I have to host?

In 2022, the festival will start on September 23 and end on October 16th.

At a minimum, organizers only have to host one event to be considered part of the Ontario Culture Days celebration. You do not need to program throughout the entire duration of the festival.


Who can participate in the festival?

We encourage everybody in the province to participate in our Ontario Culture Days festivities. In the past, our event organizers have included grassroots organizations, major arts organizations, independent artists and collectives, BIAs, libraries, municipalities, and more!

Check out the National Culture Days Participation Guide here to find more information on events and participation.


Criteria for including your event in the Ontario Culture Days Festival

You must:

  • Host an arts and culture program in Ontario within the festival dates
  • Support low barriers to access through free or pay-what-you-may admission to festival programming
  • Programs should have a participatory element, inviting the public into the creative process
  • Event must be registered through the online portal (registration is usually launched in mid-spring)


What sort of programming is included in the Festival?

The festival presents a unique opportunity for independent organizers to come together to showcase local talent, foster community collaboration, and bring the public into the creative process.

  • Format: In-person, online (live or pre-recorded), and self-guided
  • Disciplines: The festival is multidisciplinary and includes: visual arts, dance, theatre, music, history and heritage, architecture and design, culinary arts, craft, and storytelling.
  • Inspiration and resources:

How has the festival changed as a result of COVID-19?

Staying connected through arts and culture has proven to be vital. We recommended coordinating programs that can be adapted to an outdoor or digital event, self-guided content or a lesser capacity of attendees.

We expect organizers to follow the most current provincial health guidelines, as well as the local guidelines for your region.


How can my event be featured in your promotions?

Register your programs, share your images with us, and relevant social media handles.

We want to celebrate the events you put on during this year’s festival. If you have any photos or videos you would like to share, please send them to us using WeTransfer to:


What are Regional Hubs?

New to 2022, Ontario Culture Days is launching a series of up to 10 Regional Hub across the province. Regional Hubs will be the face of the festival, helping us to tell the story of communities across Ontario. They will anchor our communications, marketing and artistic programming, and will serve to drive local and regional tourism attendance to festival events.

Regional Hubs will include a listing of all registered events within an area. This series is made possible thanks to partnerships between Ontario Culture Days and local lead partners, as well as supporting partners. More details on this series to come.

Stay tuned for more information on how to become a regional hub leader in 2023.


Do we need to pay artists fees?

We expect that all independent organizers will be appropriately compensating the artists and creators that they hire. Artist fees support fair participation in the sector by all creators, and allows artists to continue doing what they do best – making art.

For more resources and guidelines relating to industry standards on artist fees, including when to pay artist fees, how much should you pay, and how should you calculate an artist’s time, we recommend reviewing the following sources:

To help cover the cost of artist fees, organizers can opt to make their events Pay-What-You-May.


What is Pay-What-You-May?

In 2019, we updated our free admission policy to include a “Pay-What–You-May” (PWYM) option for entry to Ontario Culture Days events. While all registered events are still mandated to have free entry, organizers can now publicly list that they accept optional PWYM donations for admission, and this is included in your event listing.

With the pivot to online, self-guided, or physically-distanced programming, it can be a challenge to receive donations. Thankfully, there are ways to support payments online. Here are a few of our favourites:

  • weshowup allows for PWYM for live-streamed events on a number of platforms. Participants are prompted after the event to donate to you/your organization
  • Facebook Donations is an event-based short term fundraising option. 100% of the funds raised goes towards the non-profit.
  • Kickstarter allows you to create tiered donation packages. BUT they use an all-or-nothing funding model. If your project doesn’t reach its goal, then funds don’t get collected, and no money changes hands. If the goal is met, Kickstarter charges 5% of the total funds raised. View their fees here.
  • Sometimes simple can be best! Some artists ask people to send donations directly to their bank account via e-transfer. You just have to tell them an email address for the payment.