Ever wanted to go behind the scenes at a Ballet BC rehearsal, learn Chinese calligraphy techniques in Richmond, or discover heritage public art in Port Coquitlam?
For three weeks between September 22 and October 15, a network of hundreds of free arts and cultural events are running across the province as part of BC Culture Days. Now in its 14th year, the festival features nearly 400 events that highlight BC’s cultural landscape.
“We are elated to witness how Culture Days organizers throughout the province are embracing the theme of accessibility in the arts,” Nazanin Shoja, BC Culture Days program director, said in a statement. “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.”
Similar Culture Days are happening simultaneously in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Alberta, and New Brunswick, resulting in thousands of national artistic, cultural, and community connection points.
The BC Culture Days programming officially kicks off on September 23 with Quesnel as the host city, highlighting the North Cariboo region’s rich cultural goodness that often goes overlooked. But fret not if you’re not set to be heading north: By our count, there are over 200 events happening in Metro Vancouver during the three-week period.
There’s a frankly dizzying range of things to do, with any cultural events happening during that time getting the bonus of being associated with the initiative. You want flamenco? Cultural crafts markets? Pop-up dance performances? Spoken word storytelling? Public weaving projects? Digital art lectures? Movie matinees? Kids’ clay workshops? It’s all on the menu.
Vancouver is also playing host to two events hosted by specific BC Culture Days Ambassadors. This year, 10 arts ambassadors across the province are presenting events with a specific focus on AIR (access, inclusion, and resilience). The ambassadors have had specialized training to help them identify and address common barriers that occur with public events, with the aim to make cultural offerings more inclusive and accessible to under-represented communities.
“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,” said Regan Shrumm, a BC Culture Days ambassador from Victoria, in a release. “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.”
On dates through October, visual artist Peisen Ding will host a painting workshop at Richmond Cultural Centre and Vancouver’s Gordon Neighbourhood House, drawing on his immigrant experience to encourage participants to share their own stories through art. Ding will also be presenting a mixed media art experience, “Lost & Found,” at two galleries across the two cities.
And on October 7, ambassador Summer Tyance will lead a Two-Spirit youth hand drum workshop. Tyance, a Two-Spirit Anishinaabekwe, hopes the workshop will be a safe space for queer, trans, non-binary, Two-Spirit, and gender non-conforming Indigenous kin to drum, sing, and be together.
Find the full list of BC Culture Days events here.
BC Culture Days
When: September 22 to October 15
Where: All over Vancouver, the Lower Mainland, and the whole province!