ON Topic: An Ontario Culture Days Speaker Series, 2023-24

This series of talks and workshops brings together arts and culture workers from across the province to discuss timely societal and economic issues impacting their sector, and to provide opportunities for cross-sector collaboration.

We will cover a wide range of questions related to: sustainable development, the impact of AI technologies, the role of the tourism sector, and growing capacity for the production of inclusive arts programming.

Series Program


Date: Wed, Sept 27, 2023, 1- 5 pm

Location: 401 Richmond ST W, Suite 303, Toronto, ON M5V 3A8

This half-day workshop is designed for arts programmers and managers. Its focus is on capacity and skill building related to Reconciliation, working with Indigenous artists, understanding cultural protocol, and proactively consulting with artists for the creation of safer spaces.

In this half day session, participants will have the opportunity to sit with artist Lindsey Lickers, Mushkiiki Nibi, to deepen their understanding of Indigenous arts, history, traditional storytelling, ceremony, appropriation vs appreciation, allyship, cultural safety & protocol and moving beyond the land acknowledgment into meaningful ‘ReconciliAction’ efforts. The session will be presented in a hybrid approach, infusing western methods with Indigenous methods of learning and ending in a traditional sharing circle.



Lindsey Lickers

Lindsey is an Onkwehon:we (Kanien’kéha)/ Anishinaabe (Ojibwe- Mississauga’s) artist & community developer originally from Six Nations of the Grand River with ancestral roots to the Mississauga’s of Credit First Nation. She specializes in painting & beading as well as Indigenous arts and culture facilitation, governance, community and program development. Her traditional name is ‘Mushkiiki Nibi’, which translates to ‘Medicine Water’, she is turtle clan.

Lindsey also received an International Women’s Day – Leadership in the Arts award in 2019 from the City of Toronto.  Lindsey has been a Oshkabewis (ceremonial helper) for 12 years and is a co-founder of ‘Wayeshadewin,’ a helper led, land-based organization aiming to increase access to land-based knowledge and healing for urban Indigenous populations in Ontario. She is currently the Community Safety Liaison for the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA), providing advocacy, awareness and capacity building supports for Indigenous women & families, as well as service providers.


Date: October 11, 2024, 11 am – 12:30 pm

October 11, 2024, 11 am – 12:30 pm

The United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are used by governments and organizations, within Canada and around the world, as a blueprint for peace, prosperity and sustainability. Significantly, ‘culture’ – as a top-level category – has been excluded from this framework. This presentation will consider work being undertaken by The British Council to call attention to the role of Culture, or lack thereof, within the SDGs. What recommendations is the British Council making, and how are they applicable to the Ontario context? How can the SDGs be more accessible to the cultural sector, and how can they be embedded in the delivery of local cultural initiatives?


  • Rosanna Lewis, Culture & Development and Climate Creative Commissions lead, British Council (Presenter)
  • Paolo Granata, Associate Professor, Book & Media Studies Program Coordinator, University of Toronto; Faculty Affiliate, Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society (Respondent)
Register Here


Rosanna Lewis

Rosanna has ten years’ experience working for the British Council on Culture and Sustainable Development. She has managed global and regional programmes (e.g. Creative Commissions for Climate Action) and strategic partnerships (e.g. UNESCO and EUNIC), as well as advanced policy, strategy, research and practice in this field. Rosanna is editor of ‘The Missing Pillar: Culture’s contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals’ (2020) and author of ‘Cultural Heritage for Inclusive Growth’ (2018).

Paolo Granata

Paolo Granata is an Associate Professor in Book and Media Studies at St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto. As an educator, an innovator, and a cross-disciplinary media scholar – nurtured by the centuries-old tradition of his Alma Mater, the University of Bologna – his research and teaching interests lie broadly in the areas of media ecology, media ethics, semiotics, print culture, and visual studies.


Date: November 16, 2023, 1 – 4:30 pm

Location: Sault Ste Marie. This half-day summit will be a part of the Destination Northern Ontario Conference.

The Ontario arts and tourism sectors are undeniably intertwined, as well as key drivers of and contributors to the Northern Ontario economy. In this unique post-pandemic moment, what opportunities and trends are before these sectors and how might leadership respond? These three afternoon sessions at the Destination Northern Ontario conference will speak to cultural tourism in Ontario more broadly, while considering the challenges faced within the Northern Ontario region and the exceptional festival programming produced within it.


1 pm: Cultural Tourism in Ontario: Challenges and Opportunities from Inclusion to Participation
Frederic Dimanche and Shawn Newman

2 pm: Why you REALLY want to attract the Cultural Tourist: A Conversation on the OAC’s 2023 Cultural Tourism Report
Michael Murray, Ontario Arts Council, in conversation with Kathleen Sharpe, Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund

3:30 pm: Title to be Announced

Check back soon for registration information!


Frederic Dimanche

Frederic Dimanche is Director of the Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Toronto Metropolitan University. He worked in the USA and France before coming to Canada. He has published numerous tourism-related research articles on hospitality and tourism management. Frederic is a past President of the Travel and Tourism Research Association Europe and a fellow of the International Academy for the Study of Tourism.

Shawn Newman

Shawn is an arts and culture researcher, educator, and consultant. His work spans many fields including cultural tourism, creative practice, and program design and evaluation. He has worked in both the non-profit and commercial arts and culture sectors, and his teaching at Queen’s and York universities ranges from film and media to dance to gender studies.

Michael Murray

Michael Murray was appointed CEO of the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) in July 2022. He brings wide-ranging leadership experience in the professional not-for-profit arts sector and cultural industries provincially, nationally and internationally.

Previously, Michael was director of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) Performer’s Rights Society. He also served as executive director for the Toronto Musicians’ Association, Local 149 of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (2015-2021), and as the OAC’s popular and world music and arts service organizations officer (2007-2015).

Michael began his career as a professional musician, producer and songwriter in Montréal. Later, he was named executive director of UrbanArts, a community arts council in Toronto engages youth facing socioeconomic barriers in community building through the arts.

Michael holds an MBA with a specialization in Arts and Media Management from the Schulich School of Business (York University). He is also a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and holds an Honours Bachelor of Music from McGill University.

Kathleen Sharpe

Kathleen Sharpe is a senior manager in government and the cultural sector. She has been Executive Director of the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund since its inception in 1999. The Fund, a unique program established to support cultural tourism attractions through a combination of grants and loans, has committed over $80 million to more than 800 cultural tourism projects around Ontario. Prior to OCAF, Kathleen was Director of the Culture Division of the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, a post she held from 1991 until amalgamation of the municipality into the City of Toronto in 1998. Kathleen has also held management positions at the Ontario College of Art and Design and The Banff Centre. Kathleen has been chair and president of a number of boards including the Toronto Arts Foundation, Toronto Artscape and the Canadian Conference of the Arts. She sits on many advisory committees including Nuit Blanche.


Date: January 2024

Location: To be announced

This panel will focus on spaces in Ontario that centre inclusion, and which offer opportunities for community connection, healing and resiliency through creative expression and cultural exchange.

Check back soon for speakers and registration information!


Heather George

Heather is a mother, gardener, beader, curator and PhD Candidate. As a scholar of Euro-Canadian and Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) descent who grew up off reserve, much of Heather’s personal and professional work has been directed at gaining a better understanding of the culture and history of her nation. Her current PhD research through University of Waterloo examines the historical and philosophical underpinnings of contemporary museum practices across Haudenosaunee communities. She seeks to better understand how material culture can be used to heal trauma and make space for cross-cultural dialogues. In 2019 Heather was awarded the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship for her research. Heather has spent over a decade working for urban and reserve based Indigenous organizations in the Six Nations of the Grand River territory focused on cultural preservation, heritage, and youth resiliency. Heather also recently took on the role of Executive Director of the Woodland Cultural Center in Six Nations of the Grand River Territory.


Date: March 2024

Location: To be announced

Recent developments in AI technologies have shaken the creative sector. How can the visual and media arts respond to these changes, and what else may be expected on the horizon? This session will build understanding of the context of AI that the Ontario visual and media arts sectors navigate.

This event is a jointly produced by Ontario Culture Days and CARFAC Ontario.

Speakers: To be announced

We are grateful to the Canada Council for the Arts for supporting this series, and for support provided by Arterra Wines Canada, VIA Rail Canada, Destination Northern Ontario and Destination Toronto.