BC Culture Days announces its inspiring series of community events designed for all ages and presented by artists and cultural organizations spanning across British Columbia, as part of the countrywide celebration set to take place Sept. 22 to Oct. 15, 2023. Culture Days is a network of events, presentations, activities, workshops, and more, all aimed at showcasing, sharing, and exploring the artistic and cultural essence of each participating community. The celebratory spirit in British Columbia is thriving, evidenced by the registration of over 350 events across 50 diverse communities.
3 Weeks of Internative Events!
With three weeks of free-to-attend and Pay-What-You-May interactive events, Culture Days invites the public to immerse themselves in the creativity and abundant cultural diversity that exists right in their backyards. Event-goers can expect fun, friendly, and low-barrier activations, everything from art walks, cultural crawls, festivals, exhibitions and film screenings to workshops and collaborative art projects in visual arts, crafts, theatre, dance, music, and much more.
This year, BC Culture Days is celebrating the province’s expansive cultural landscape by putting the focus on a diverse group of B.C.-based emerging artists who are dedicated to making art that is accessible, approachable, and inclusive to all.
Each year, BC Culture Days appoints emerging artists from across the province as ambassadors for arts and culture. Alongside pursuing mentorships with established artist mentors, the artists develop programming for Culture Days. Through the A/I/R Ambassador Series, ten BC Culture Days ambassadors are hosting public activities during Culture Days. Guided by the theme of AIR (access, inclusion, and resilience), each ambassador will present low-barrier and accessibility-focused event(s) in their local areas.
“We are elated to witness how Culture Days organizers throughout the province are embracing the theme of accessibility in the arts,” says Nazanin Shoja, BC Culture Days Program Director. “We anticipate that our events will foster a heightened awareness about inclusive practices in cultural programming, contributing to a more inclusive and diverse artistic community in B.C.”
The A/I/R Ambassador Series is created under the creed that creativity, artistic exploration, and collaborative artmaking are for everyone. The series stands to showcase diversity and inclusion, encouraging accessibility and community care as habitual priorities for arts and culture practitioners, while inspiring liberating, creative experiences for all arts and culture lovers and goers alike. Through the events in this series, the artists will create safe, welcoming, and inspiring spaces for individuals and families to enjoy.
“All individuals want to connect with people in a heartfelt way, and yet individuals with disabilities remain so often isolated because needs and safety are not actually listened to,” says Regan Shrumm, BC Culture Days Ambassador from Victoria. “My BC Culture Days programming attempts to break down some barriers that separate us by focusing on disability justice. I hope to connect communities together, particularly disabled communities, through joy and artmaking.”
Inclusivity a Priority
As part of the program, the ambassadors have participated in specialized training, from organizations like Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture, to help them address physical, mental, and communicative barriers common in public events. With support from BC Culture Days, the artists are crafting events with increased access points such as ASL interpretation, live captioning, and more. These events aim to support public participation as well as greater participation from Deaf individuals and people with disabilities, neurodivergent, IBPOC, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people as well as trauma survivors and other under-represented communities who will gather to connect, share, learn, and explore through arts and culture.
Ambassadors to Watch Out For!
Natasha Lepine (Quesnel) – Born in the small community of Wells, Métis artist Natasha has long had an appreciation for the outdoors. Sharing love for nature and creativity, she’s guiding participants on a short and accessible 500m nature walk at Fuel Management Trails, followed by a workshop: Observing with Intent: Channeling Nature into Art.
Peisen Ding (Vancouver) – As a queer Chinese immigrant and art educator, Peisen values discovering what life brings when living with different identities and cultures. Lost & Found at grunt gallery in Vancouver is a hands-on installation experience that explores how art can show care, love, and courage to those who bridge diverse cultures, identities, and disabilities. Peisen’s all ages Life Stories Painting Workshop at Gordon Neighbourhood House offers tools and techniques for participants to portray their life experiences.
Summer Tyance (Vancouver) – Two-Spirit and multidisciplinary artist Summer pursues various art-forms as a way to connect with their Anishinaabe culture—to heal and express spirit. She knows the ongoing struggles of finding safe spaces for Queer Two-Spirit/Trans/Non-binary kin to drum, be who they are, and speak up. Summer’s Indigenous Youth Two-Spirit Hand Drum Song Workshop at Persona Creative will centre and uplift Indigenous youth, creating a safe space for participants to drum and sing together.
Erin Shuttleworth (Trail) – Erin’s passion for comics, illustration, and storytelling is electric. Internationally recognized for her craft, she aims to demystify the arts. Erin’s free-flowing Comic Jam and Mini Tutorials at Trail’s IncrEDIBLE Farmer’s Market ignite inspiration and provide insight for those who want to learn how to craft their own comics.
Cameron Gelderman (Kelowna) – A warm character, Cameron is a process artist who uses knot-tying as a primary coping mechanism for depression and anxiety. He’s inviting locals to gather to SHARE AIR Together as a part of the Kelowna and District SHARE Society’s First Annual SHARE Fest. Those who join in can find release and a new community while crafting a collaborative mural made with yarn. Attendees can also expect an unveiling of a new painted mural.
Cherie Chai (Prince George) – The founder of Speak Write Academy, Cherie, is a passionate language educator who promotes intercultural communication through artistic workshops. While highlighting the ancient Asian art form of shadow puppetry, her Shadow Puppet Language Workshop at the Prince George Library engages audiences of all-ages to learn the basics of multiple languages such as Dakelh, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Bahasa Melayu, and French.
Tlanextli Coyotl a.k.a. Pablo Ochoa (Salt Spring Island) – Mexican dancer, art facilitator, caregiver, and user experience artist, Tlanextli welcomes the public to Community Canvas: A Tapestry of Artistic Diversity, a transformative event held during the Saturday market at Centennial Park. This inclusive gathering encourages the community to participate in various art activities to provide a supportive framework for collective creation, allowing individuals with special needs to showcase their unique gifts, wisdom, and artistic creations.
Ann K Chou (Victoria) – Ann is a first-generation calligraphy artist from Hong Kong. Her personal history and unique intersectionalities as a severely hard-of-hearing person have influenced her art and desire to fracture boundaries and celebrate diversity. She’s facilitating three inclusive, creative art workshops at Quadra Village Community Centre: Lantern Making Art Jam: Let Your Inner Light Shine, Multi-Sensory Storytelling: Create Your Shoebox Stage, and Puppet Making Art Jam: Beyond Binary.
Regan Shrumm (Victoria) – Regan is a queer and genderqueer artist, writer, and curator living with multiple disabilities. Join Regan at Fairfield Community Centre for Care Work as Protest–event-goers will create a miniature banner out of textiles using heat bond appliqué and hand stitching techniques to express their understanding of “protest.” Regan and other artists are also gathering at The Dock – Centre for Social Impact for Care Work as Community, where they will engage with the audience in conversation to share how they care for the community.
Lindsey Tyne Johnson (Kamloops) – As a trauma survivor, Lindsey creates art that reflects the struggles and triumphs of healing and recovering from personal and intergenerational trauma. She’s working with the Kamloops Art Gallery to present Postcards of Courage, a unique experience aimed at supporting survivors and victims of violence and crime. This postcard-making workshop will encourage the community to craft messages of healing and hope for survivors. Locals are also invited to participate in the activity at the Kamloops Farmer’s Market on Sept. 23, where Lindsey will be stationed, offering free materials and instructions.
For full artist biographies, visit https://culturedays.ca/en/bc/2023-ambassadors
Quesnel Leads as Host City
The official 2023 BC Culture Days launch will showcase the province’s North Cariboo region with Quesnel as this year’s host city. Led by the Quesnel and District Community Arts Council, the Quesnel Culture Days Provincial Kick- Off Event will happen at Spirit Square (246 St Laurent Ave, Quesnel, BC) on Saturday, Sept. 23 from 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. for a full day of stage entertainment, artist presentations, food, art activities, and more. The day will begin with opening prayers and welcomes from local Indigenous Elders and dignitaries, followed by musical performances from regional bands and performers.
For a full listing of the upcoming events and to find the activities happening in your community, visit CultureDays.ca.
Featured Image is of Ambassador Natasha Lepine of Quesnel.
- Helen Siwak is the founder of EcoLuxLuv Marketing & Communications Inc and publisher of Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine and digital women's lifestyle magazine EcoLuxLifestyle.co. She is a prolific content creator, consultant, and marketing and media strategist within the ecoluxury lifestyle niche. Post-pandemic, she has worked with many small to mid-sized plant-based/vegan brands to build their digital foundations and strategize content creation and business development. Helen is the west coast correspondent to Canada’s top-read industry magazine Retail-Insider, holds a vast freelance portfolio, and consults with many of the world’s luxury heritage brands. Always seeking new opportunities and challenges, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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