Spotlight Recognition Program 2020

The Spotlight Recognition Program celebrates exemplary programming taking place each year as part of the Ontario Culture Days Festival. This year, Spotlight allows us to celebrate the ingenuity demonstrated by our organizers as they have adapted to extraordinary circumstances to connect with audiences.

Well, the votes are in, our panel has spoken, and now we’d like to introduce you to the 2020 Spotlight award winners:


A person in a wheelchair admiring a sculpture of a flower

Bruyère Artist in Residence CJ Fleury – Be Moved by Art

Ottawa, ON

Organized by the Bruyère hospital organization’s artist-in-residence, CJ Fleury, Be Moved by Art at Bruyère was a month-long program designed to be accessible, safe, and to inspire the imagination. With COVID-19 restrictions in mind, their hub created programming for both the patients of Saint-Vincent – a photography exhibit and an art hunt located inside the hospital – and the general public, hosting an online exhibition and a self-guided outdoor art tour. Prioritizing community collaboration and participation, the shows featured 2D and 3D works created by patients and care-givers, new photography, and playful ground-murals.

2 people working on crafts with paint rollers

Helson Gallery – Creative Outlets: Art In a Time of Isolation

Halton Hills, ON

Throughout Culture Days, the Helson Gallery exhibited Creative Outlets: Art In a Time of Isolation, a show that featured projects created by local artists in the early months of the pandemic. Seeking to remove barriers to participation in the arts, the exhibition featured many creative forms of expression, including sewn gowns and masks, journals, sculptures, and more. The Helson also created a downloadable PDF full of art lessons, which was free and accessible to help families, teachers, and students develop their artistic and creative skills from home

Creative Solutioneering

2 people playing instruments in front of microphones

Arts Milton + Rick Imus – Curbside Concerts Featuring “The Vaudevillian”

Milton, ON

Arts Milton kicked off their festival programming with The Vaudevillian, a celebratory night of distanced community gathering. Families watched a 1930’s-style band from their own lawns and driveways, and audiences were able to safely experience live music – something they hadn’t enjoyed in over 6 months – as the show travelled to three separate street-side locations over the course of the evening. One audience member likened the feeling of watching the performances to the freedom she felt after WWII, when people were dancing in the streets.

A person using a hammer to hit metal on an anvil

Lincoln Museum and Cultural Centre – Pioneer Week Video Series

Lincoln, ON

Every year in late September and early October, The Town of Lincoln Museum and Cultural Centre celebrates Pioneer Day to mark the harvest. In order to mitigate the risk of an in-person festival, their 53rd annual Pioneer Celebrations went virtual, bringing legacy vendors and historians into the homes of Lincoln locals. With a little help from modern technology, the Pioneer Week video series introduced residents to blacksmiths, beekeepers, and the mighty steam engine, all of which was streamed on Instagram via IGTV, Facebook, and YouTube for everyone to access.

Participation From a Distance

6 videos of people playing instruments stitched together

Arts Milton + House of Chords – Come Together

Milton, ON

House of Chords hosted two virtual sessions during Ontario Culture Days, bringing together musicians of all abilities for a collaborative experience. The program consisted of two parts: first, participants were invited to create and submit video and audio files of The Beatles’ Come Together. House of Chords then digitally combined those files to create one video. In a second virtual meeting, contributing musicians discussed the process, and reviewed the final product. The result? A jam session for the digital age, where local musicians could come together through music, despite the distance.

A box containing various small items

Town of Aurora – Culture in a Box + Culture Rally

Aurora, ON

For this year’s festival, Aurora’s Cultural Services Division reached out to local partners to help produce two programs: Culture in a Box and a Culture Rally. The town provided participants with a box full with activities and crafts which could be completed safely from home. Families and households were also invited to participate in the Culture Rally, a scavenger hunt that sent locals exploring Aurora from the safety of their cars. With a map full of clues, participants visited a number of local sites, from the historic Hillary House to a sweet-scented chocolate factory!

People’s Choice

A person painting a mural on a wall

Arts Milton + Pflag – Halton Mural Project

Milton, ON

As part of their Ontario Culture Days programming this year, Arts Milton joined forces with PFLAG Halton to bring a new mural to the community, which is now permanently on display on the facade of a Milton heritage building. The mural by artist JR Marr offers a message of pride, inclusivity and diversity, and can be viewed by Milton locals at any time of day.

A large screen with a movie projected onto it

City of Thunder Bay Indigenous Liaison team + Thunder Bay Library – Every Child Matters

Thunder Bay, ON

Along with the Thunder Bay Library and Boomer’s drive-in theatre, the City of Thunder Bay’s Indigenous Relations and Inclusion Team hosted a series of programs as part of Orange Shirt Day. Participants were invited to the drive-in to watch a screening of the film “Indian Horse”, which follows the survival of a young boy through the Residential School system. Attendees wore orange shirts, decorated their cars with signs that said “Every Child Matters,” and shared photos of the event on social media. The next day, the City of Thunder Bay’s Anishinaabe Elders Council led a virtual discussion on the film.