Municipalities and Culture Days
Municipalities—urban, suburban and rural—have already played an important role in the growth of Culture Days which can be operated, in many respects, as a turn-key, customizable festival “template” to showcase and mobilize your local arts community.
Here are a few things that you can do to spearhead the movement in your own community:
Get the word out about Culture Days to your local arts and cultural sector. Encourage local artists, artisans, arts organizations, festivals, galleries, museums, heritage sites, community arts groups, choirs, libraries, community centres, universities, colleges, schools and cultural groups of all stripes to join the movement by registering an activity at culturedays.ca.
Contact your provincial Task Force about hosting and organizing an info session in your community about Culture Days. Invite representatives from your local arts sector as well as business improvement associations, local media and politicians to work together to create an amazing Culture Days weekend.
Provide space in civic facilities to artists and cultural groups that want to offer Culture Days activities. Parks, community centres, libraries, town/city hall, town squares, empty storefronts, heritage sites and museums are all great locations for activities. Be creative: consider opening up a space that is not usually open to the public as this tends to draw curious crowds.
Help to group activities within walking distance of each other into “hubs.” You are likely to draw bigger crowds to Culture Days activities if people are able to browse and sample a variety of drop-in activities all in one easily accessible area. It’s also a great way to revitalize a main street, downtown core or an under-appreciated area of your community.
Discuss Culture Days with your local business improvement association (BIA) regarding how the arts and culture strengthen your community and economy. Encourage businesses to sponsor local Culture Days activities by providing in-kind donations of space, materials or promotion. The Creative City Network of Canada and Ontario Municipal Cultural Planning Inc. offer some valuable resources that can help you describe the social-economic impacts of supporting cultural development to business owners.
Develop partnerships with local media including community newspapers, regional radio stations and local bloggers. The main components of the Culture Days national media campaign will start rolling out in August but it is the local on-the-ground coverage that will be key to ensuring that the residents of your community hear about the activities happening in their own backyard.
To attract audiences to activities, develop a marketing and public relations campaign to package your local Culture Days events together collaborating with other stakeholders such as your local Tourism office, Chamber of Commerce and media partners.
When recruiting activity organizers, tell them about your promotional plans. Public profile is a significant enticement to participate. Print advertisements in your local paper that list all the registered events with dates, times and locations are an important incentive. If you can provide Culture Days-branded handbills that list local events and/or posters (including some with a blank space to customize) to activity organizers, they can distribute them as part of their individual promotional efforts and play a vital role in your overall campaign. As well, by announcing the print deadline to be included in these marketing pieces, you create a great “carrot” for activity organizers to register early!
In September, be sure to invite your municipal councillors and Mayor or other elected officials to attend Culture Days events in your community. Culture Days events make for fun photo-ops and give politicians a chance to demonstrate active support and participation in the local arts and cultural life of their communities.
Your Mayor can make an official Proclamation for Culture Days. In Québec, where the inspiration for Culture Days originated, 536 municipalities have signed the official Declaration of Journées de la culture. And since Culture Days’ inception in 2010, many cities and towns across Canada have affirmed their commitment to arts and culture through officially proclaiming Culture Days. Download this proclamation template as a guide for your community’s official document. Municipal proclamations are a great way to engage your city councillors, raise the profile of arts and culture in your community and attract local media attention.