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Festival FAQ

What is the Ontario Culture Days festival?

Since 2010, the last weekend of each September has marked the beginning of the Ontario Culture Days festival. The festival presents a unique opportunity for independent organizers to come together and showcase local talent, foster community collaboration and bring the public into the creative process. In the past, our organizers have hosted programming from multiple disciplines, including but not limited to: visual art, dance, theatre, music, history and heritage, architecture and design, culinary arts, craft, and storytelling. 

In 2020, the Ontario Culture Days festival extended the 3-day in- person festival to a  4-week multi platform festival with the addition of digital, and self-guided programming. Organizers hosted over 1,000 events in 70 municipalities across the province. Programming  featured everything from online creative writing workshops to virtual powwows, to take-home embroidery lessons, self-guided community art tours and more.


Quick Facts


  • When is the Ontario Culture Days festival?

The Ontario Culture Days festival starts on the last Friday of each September. For 2021, the Ontario Culture Days festival dates are September 24th, 2021 – October 24, 2021


  • 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, BIAs, libraries, municipalities and beyond. 


  • How do I participate as an event organizer?

To participate, all you need to do is host an arts and culture program during the festival dates.

The Ontario Culture Days festival is all about removing barriers to participation and gives the public an opportunity to get hands-on exploring new arts and culture activities in their community. For that to happen events must: a) promote arts and culture in your Ontario community, b) be participatory, and c) admission entry must be free or Pay – What-You-May.

For 2020, we have expanded our Culture Days events to include online programming, in addition to in-person programming.This means that you can now host a digital recording, a live-stream, self-guided activity or in-person event. 


If you host regular webinars, online performances, digital workshops, or arts programming, then you are already on the right track. 

For more programming resources  visit the National Culture Days website here.


  • When and where do I register my event?

Our registration portal opens in late spring! Follow our e-news and social @onculturedays to be the first to know about registration and event promotion opportunities.

There will be three registration deadlines:

June 1: Provincial deadline for Ontario organizers to be considered for bonus benefits and promotional opportunities

August 31: Provincial deadline to access standard benefits

Mid-September: National deadline to register a Culture Days event


  • Do we need to pay artists fees?

We believe in the importance of fair payment for artists for their participation in all arts and culture programming, including the Ontario Culture Days festival. 

For more resources and guidelines relating to 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 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 are asking people to send donations directly to their bank account via e-transfer. You just have to tell them an email address for the payment.