It’s time for a little culture.
A cultural movement will blanket Canada with thousands of activities from Sept. 28 to 30 including more than 1,600 free events in about 200 cities and towns across Ontario.
“Among the cool Culture Days’ activities happening is one called PARKing in Port Credit (Mississauga) where artists are turning parking spaces into works of art,” said Susan Smythe-Bishop, promotions’ vice-president.
As well, there will be a chance to tour the Stratford Shakespeare Festival Costume Warehouse, help “yarn bomb” St. George’s Square in Guelph, practice Chinese painting in London, learn samba-style drumming in Toronto and go sleuthing in Waterloo Region.
A cultural groundswell
“The spectacular growth of Culture Days since its inception three years ago has been amazing,” said Antonio Cimolino of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and chair of the event’s national steering committee.
Inspired by Quebec’s annual Journees de la culture and Alberta Culture Days, the movement across Ontario now involves some 700 arts organizations, cultural groups, artists, libraries, museums, festivals and municipalities.
They offer “hands-on and behind-the-scenes activities exploring music, dance, visual arts, film, history, theatre, literature and much more.”
The curtain rises
In the cultural mecca of Stratford, it’s a perfect fit.
“This is a wonderful place to spend Culture Days because the city is filled with artists and artisans who open their doors for this event,” said Ann Swerdfager, Stratford festival publicity director.
There are 70 activities in the city and Perth County including puppet shows, craft sales, studio tours, theatrical and musical performances, Scottish dance lessons, costume warehouse tours, music therapy, sing-alongs and demonstrations on everything from lace-making to wood-turning to urban farming, she said.
There is also Sing and Dance around the World at Factory 163 where children will learn international songs and dances.
For a good time...
“There is just so much that people/families can do for free over the Culture Days’ weekend, it's almost impossible to narrow it down to just a few choices,” Smythe-Bishop said.
Here is just a sample of things happening in Southern Ontario:
- Create birds of paradise out of recyclable material with artist Lisa du Fresne at Tytler public school in Guelph.
- Behind the Scenes of Sleuth, a “rare theatre experience,” is presented by Drayton Entertainment at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse.
- Steelpan Presentation by Acoustic Steel shows how steelpan instruments are made, tuned and played at the Harmonia Centre in Kitchener.
- Explore London’s rich multicultural community by practicing Chinese painting with brush and ink at the Chinese Cultural Centre; learn to wrap a hijab at Ontario’s first mosque; or try playing the steel drums of Trinidad and Tobago at the Church of Transfiguration.
- In Toronto, learn Samba-style drumming with Drum Artz; clown around at Hart House; join Quattro books for a poetry workshop; or head to Humber College’s Lakeshore campus for the Aboriginal Resource Centre’s Pow Wow.
- Attend a rehearsal of the Canadian Opera Company's Die Fledermaus at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto. Admission is limited to the first 500 people at the door starting at 6 p.m. on Sept. 28.
Visit Milton’s Centre for the Arts to take part in some of the 20 activities presented by Arts Milton.
This includes writing a song with singer-songwriter Kev Morse; learning studio photography with Grant Rushton; and trying out some Bollywood dance moves with choreographer Shiamak Davar.
Take a guided tour of the public art along Thunder Bay’s beautiful Prince Arthur's Landing and learn about the design, creation, maintenance and conservation of public artworks.
Meet the instruments in an orchestra at the Kingston Symphony’s instrument petting zoo or try some breakdance moves with KinetiQ Crew at the Upper Canada Dance Academy.
There are several tours by artists and artisans at work including the Apples and Art Studio Tour (United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry), the Land of the Voyageurs Studio Tour (Sudbury District) and the Muskoka Autumn Studio Tour.
If you go