By Michelle Rosner
Culture Days makes its return appearance across Canada this month, and here in Manitoba the public is expected to turn out in impressive numbers for three days of exciting arts and cultural events that will be on view from Sept. 28 to Sept. 30.
In Winnipeg, there’ll be live bands performing at the The Forks on Friday, Sept. 28, and performances by the Songwriters’ Association of Canada on Saturday, Sept. 29. Also on Saturday, between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. we’re all being invited to blow out the candles on a cake celebrating the 100-year birthday of the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Right afterward, at 6 p.m., the marvelous, free, all-night Nuit Blanche gets underway at the Gallery, the Manitoba Museum and other venues, with the promise of a dozen or so hours of No Sleep Just Art.
Open houses everywhere
That same night you can visit Jacquelyn Hebert’s exhibition at La Maison des artistes in St. Boniface and groove to music at the Cube in the Exchange. Capping off Culture Days is a festival of dance in Dance Downtown, presented by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
Throughout Culture Days there’ll be open houses all over the province – including Lundar, Gimli, Winnipeg Beach, The Pas, Churchill and more. Flin Flon has lined up a full weekend of exciting activities including storytelling, music, dance, tipi making and hoop dancing.
With all this, and much much more, Manitobans have an opportunity to create the most exciting festival yet.
Nation-wide in 2010
From the start, Culture Days has made an effort to include all cultural institutions. Culture Days had its origins in existing cultural fests in Quebec and Alberta, and in 2010 became a nation-wide celebration. In its inaugural year, Culture Days was the largest public participation enterprise ever undertaken by Canada’s arts and cultural community.
As always, Manitoba communities approached the event with a collaborative spirit, contributing greatly to the national celebrations. Communities banded together to support the Culture Days vision of culture in every community and pushed for awareness, accessibility, participation and engagement at all levels. Communities such as Russell, Brandon, Flin Flon, Peguis First Nation and others featured events reflecting their distinct cultural environment. Winnipeg’s events attracted thousands of participants, reshaping the city into a cultural Mecca with much to see and do.
Over 250 events were staged in Manitoba during Culture Days weekend last year, and more than 30,000 people came out to enjoy them. Each community reflected a sense of cultural pride and a rich engagement with the arts. Flin Flon, with more than 35 events, staged an unparalleled assortment of music, dance, theatre, visual art, film and participatory experiences.
Much to discover
In Winnipeg, the densely packed schedule of daytime, evening and all night events showcased the city as a thriving centre for cultural activity and a key destination point for people wanting to experience Manitoba’s diverse heritage, history, art and culture. Nuit Blanche, the night-time arts party, flourished and over 10,000 people attended open houses at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and CBC Radio/Canada, then celebrating its 75th anniversary. From the Exchange District to St. Boniface, participants celebrated art into the wee hours of the night.
Every community in Canada is invited to participate in these celebrations, and what makes each community stand apart is the distinctiveness of its culture and its celebration of its own community and its specific environment.
It’s hoped that this year’s celebrations foster more conversations about artistic and cultural ideas, and about community. With events that speak to the diverse cultures and tastes from across Manitoba, Culture Days offers a singular artistic experience for audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Notable on the list of featured events are as the Storytelling Day at Central Park, 8 Days in May, Eh! hosted by Urban Gatherings and a celebration of Aboriginal music.
Michelle Rosner is communications and events coordinator for Manitoba Culture Days