Spotlight Recognition Program 2022

The Spotlight Recognition Program celebrates exemplary programming taking place each year as part of the Ontario Culture Days Festival. This year’s categories celebrate the creativity and ingenuity of local organizers who have brought events to Ontario audiences.

Both event organizers and festival attendees are invited to nominate programs that they feel have exemplified the themes below. Organizers are welcome to nominate their own programs, as well as others.


Best In-person Program In-person programming often allows for deep, meaningful engagement. This award recognizes organizers who offered creative in-person participation that resulted in an enriching, but safe and welcoming audience experience.
Best Collaborative Program Progress in arts programming is often fuelled by collaboration. The most unique events are the result of various artists or groups coming together to create something new. This category will recognize events hosted by two or more organizers, particularly interdisciplinary programming.
Inclusive Programming There are many barriers that exist which prohibit people from participating in arts and culture, and unfortunately, such impediments frequently go unacknowledged. This category recognizes those who have created more inclusive programming by putting equity and accessibility at the forefront.
People's Choice People’s Choice is an open-category accolade that allows the general public to recognize any program and its overall contribution to the Culture Days festival. The nominee that receives the greatest number of votes online will be awarded the Spotlight.
Best Digital Program Digital programming is so much more than pivoting online: it’s also about creating meaningful connection from a distance. This category looks at the ways organizers thought outside the box to create engaging experiences online.

Best In-Person Program

A small group of people raising their arms in a hall Photo by Kaitlyn Patience.

National Arts Centre: ArohaFest Diwali Celebration

Ottawa, ON

Co-presented by the National Arts Centre and Aroha Fine Arts, this event was a bilingual festival featuring the music, dance, visual, and culinary arts of India, making it the only of its kind in Canada. Activities included Bollywood, Lavani, and Bhangra dance workshops, immersive music concerts, a visual arts exhibit, and a virtual culinary segment.

A person walking, wearing a dragon costume, A few other people are watching Photo courtesy of City of St. Catharines.

Carousel Players: The Drama Garden

St. Catharines, ON

The Drama Garden included five original, interactive and immersive performances devised by Carousel Players, a local favourite in the St. Catharines and Niagara Region. Audiences moved through the space as they visited one performance after another. The promenade style of The Drama Garden meant that participants chose their own path and sequence of experiences, and then interacted with those performative moments. Attendees came away with a greater understanding of the dramatic art form.

Best Collaborative Program

A person using lighting and projectors in a large dark area Photo Credit Sarah Arfan

The City of Guelph Museums & Culture, and its Artists in Residence, Silas Chinsen, Sophia Chilton, Caleb Bray: Reshaping Ruins

Guelph, ON

The Goldie Mill Ruins, an 1866 three-storey limestone building, was brought to life through an interactive art project which included community-made visual art, poetry, and music.The project began with an open call for poetry, which was turned into a choral composition with local singers.The final event featured painting projections, light, and ambient sound which interacted with the audience’s movements and inputs, casting shadows on and animating the old building. This project is created by Guelph’s 2022 Artists in Residence: Sophia Chilton, Caleb Bray, and Silas Chinsen.

2 people dancing and smiling in an open space outside Photo © Mirna Chacín.

Dance Together Festival and York Region Arts Council

York, ON

A series of exciting, accessible outdoor dance workshops to the York Region community , each included two diverse community dance workshops with music suitable for all ages and abilities. The styles included Cuban Fusion, Waltz, Ukrainian Folk Dance, Afro-fusion, Hip Hop, Salsa and more. This festival program was a collaboration between the Dance Together Festival artistic team and York Region Arts Council, in partnership with SmartVMC, City of Vaughan, YMCA at the David Braley Centre, City of Richmond Hill and Richmond Hill Public Library

Inclusive Programming

A person holding a guitar and speaking into a microphone Photo by Maren Elliott.

Radical Connections: Performance in the Atrium at Saint-Vincent Hospital

Ottawa, ON

This event brought professional performing artists to Saint Vincent Hospital’s complex care patients, who would not have otherwise had access to cultural events due to illnesses making it difficult to leave the hospital.

Performers included Blind Storyteller Kim Kilpatrick, jazz vocalist and Rwandan folk singer Empress Nyiringango, and pianist and Radical Connections Executive Director, Dr. Carol Wiebe. The artists featured were all part of Radical Connections Unmasked Connections program which facilitates virtual one-on-one performances and concerts for residents in long-term care homes.

A person smiling and holding up 2 paintings of a heart and a maple leaf Photo provided by Elizabeth Vargas.

SEC (Sara Elizabeth Theatre): SEC Paint Night with performance by Donny Smith

York, ON

The Sara Elizabeth Centre welcomed the public to view works by Special Needs Artists. Alongside this gallery exhibition was an all-ages and all-abilities paint night and a musical performance by Donny Smith. Attendees had the chance to mingle, work and paint alongside members of the special needs community in York. The organizer, Sara Elizabeth Centre, is an arts-based program dedicated to serving adults with intellectual and/or physical disabilities.

People’s Choice

People sitting in chairs in a circle around a fireplace outside. A person in the middle of the circle is showing an object to the others Courtesy the City of Vaughan

City of Vaughan in partnership with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation: Sisters in Spirit Vigil

Vaughan, ON

The City of Vaughan proclaimed Oct. 4 Sisters in Spirit Day and held a vigil to honour the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people. Valarie King of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation facilitated the vigil and spoke about healing together, the importance of the day and how to take action. The event honoured and remembered missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people, supported grieving families, offered opportunities for healing, and centred the importance of reconciliation and cultural learnings.

Someone holding up a feather while speaking into a microphone. 3 canvases with artwork are in the background Photo by Kyrstiana Bourdage.

Art Gallery of Algoma and VIBE Arts: Feather Wrapping Workshop with Lucia Laford

Sault Ste. Marie, ON

This workshop was led by local indigenous artist Lucia Laford (Waawaaskone Qwe). The drop-in event encouraged participants of all ages to wrap a feather and learn about its cultural significance and teachings. On the day, more than 130 community members participated. The program paired with the Gathering in Honour exhibition featuring Lucia Laford and her late father and local artist John Laford, and in combination with the workshop, marked the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Best Digital Program

Yannis Lobaina smiling and holding up a paintbrush Photo provided by Yannis Lobaina.

Yannis Lobaina: Let's honour our mother tongue!

Toronto, ON

To explore Spanish heritage, award-winning writer, emerging filmmaker and photographer Yannis Lobaina led participants through bilingual (Spanish and English) creative writing exercises and mixed media collages. This online workshop explored how Latin-Hispanics and other communities can honour the Latin-Hispanic heritage and their mother tongue.

Several varied works of art Ottawa Gatineau Printmakers Connective: Online videos hub 2022. Photo courtesy of OGPC.

Ottawa Gatineau Printmakers Connective: Online videos hub

Ottawa, ON

Members of the Ottawa-Gatineau Printmakers Connective (OGPC) offered a behind-the-scenes look at the complexities of printmaking and showed the importance of printmaking in contemporary arts. The hub offered three online, video-based events, where each artist gave a behind-the-scenes look at their creative process for a piece in the ‘Migration in Print’ exhibition. This exhibition was then held in-person at Carleton University’s new Book Arts Lab over the three weeks of the Ontario Culture Days festival.