People engaging in a craft workshop, working with colorful paper and materials. Culture Days @ TPL: Gratitude Cards. Photo by Alejandra Higuera

Organizer Information

September 20 – October 13, 2024

Welcome to the Ontario Culture Days page for Organizers. If you’re here because you’re interested in hosting a free, participatory arts and culture event – then you’re in the right place!

Whether you’re an individual artist, part of a collective, or work with an organization or a municipality, you are warmly invited to present an activity for the public during Ontario Culture Days – a three-week festival with over 1000 events presented by people like YOU.

About the Festival

Njacko Backo playing a drum outdoors
Njacko Backo plays at Jamii’s Kisanii Hub, Toronto Culture Days 2022. Photo credit: Eilish Waller.

What is Ontario Culture Days’ history?

The Ontario Culture Days festival was inspired by the success of Québec’s Journées de la Culture weekend, and is supported by National Culture Days, founded in 2010. Our organization works alongside national, provincial/territorial and municipal Culture Days initiatives to make this unique event a reality. 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!

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 to find more information on events and participation.

Ontario Culture Days

Two people drawing using markers illuminated by a purple light in a dark area.
Reshaping Ruins by Guelph’s Artists in Residence, Guelph Culture Days 2022. Photo credit: Sarah Arfan.

Criteria for including your event in the Ontario Culture Days festival

In 2024, the festival will start on September 20 and end on October 13.

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.

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)
Dozens of people sitting at tables conversing
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Indigenous Tourism Ontario and Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig, Sault Ste. Marie Culture Days 2022. Photo credit: Kyrstiana Bourdage.

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, 2024 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.

2 people wearing colorful costumes and performing on an accordion and flute
Pop up Picnic – Moulin à musique, Nipissing Culture Days 2022. Photo credit: Kyrstiana Bourdage.

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.

How can my event be featured in your promotions?

Register your programs, share your images with us, and relevant social media handles by our provincial marketing deadline of July 31, 2024 to receive promotional swag and event features. Your listing can be updated at any time.

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: info@onculturedays.ca

Two people next to each other looking upwards
Theatre on the Ridge Pop-up theater at the Scugog Hub for Ontario Culture Days Festival 2022. Photo credit: Barry McCluskey.

What are Festival Hubs?

In 2022, Ontario Culture Days launched a series of Festival Hub across the province. Festival Hubs are the face of the festival, helping us to tell the story of communities across Ontario. They anchor our communications, marketing and artistic programming, and serve to drive local and regional tourism attendance to festival events.

Festival Hubs include listings 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.

Check out our 2024 Festival Hubs, and stay tuned for more!

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.

A child painting
Halton Hills Culture Days. Photo credit: Sarah Arfan.

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.

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

  • 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.
A person taking a photo of art on a wall
Arts Milton Exclusively Inclusive Art, Milton Culture Days 2022. Photo by Sarah Arfan.

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.

Reach out to us!

Are you an organizer looking to participate in the Ontario Culture Days Festival?

If you have any questions or want more information please contact us at info@onculturedays.ca for support or to set up a meeting. Please let us know if you require any additional support for communication and meetings.

Pour des question ou des commentaires en français, contactez Kyrstiana, coordonnatrice des programmes et des opérations, pour réserver un appel ou vous connecter par courriel: kyrstiana@onculturedays.ca

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Join the Ontario Culture Days Organizer Network group on Facebook.