Culture Days in Saskatchewan - Increasing Community Engagement

By: SaskCulture Staff January, 2018

In 2017, Culture Days had a big focus on “hands-on, interactive” cultural experiences, and many community organizers stepped up to offer meaningful activities that would leave a lasting impact with participants and communities alike.

Goodsoil, a first-time Culture Days community in the Rivers West District for Sport, Culture and Recreation, came on board as the result of SaskCulture’s new Culture Days Animateur pilot program. The program was designed to work with the Districts for Sport, Culture and Recreation to reach communities not previously engaged with Culture Days, while also providing outreach opportunities for SaskCulture’s program team.

Participating Districts identified communities, made introductions and administered the funding SaskCulture provided for the program.

Goodsoil’s inaugural Culture Days event took place on September 30, 2017, and offered participants a chance to take part in activities like trapping and wildlife workshops, traditional children’s games, and wagon rides. The centrepiece, however, was a community tapestry project led by master spinner and fibre artist Kara Perpelitz. Kara worked with students and community participants to create a felted tapestry, which has been “on tour” since being completed. It was first displayed at the community nursing home before being moved to its current location at the school. The tapestry will move next to the Goodsoil Heritage Museum, where it will then be displayed.

According to Rivers West Community Development coordinator Bonnie Mills Midgley, the experience was gratifying from beginning to end.

“The whole thing started with an inquiry from the community about Culture Days and it just so happened that I learned about the Culture Days Animateur project right afterwards. It’s pretty special to see something so wonderful come from a single inquiry!” Mills Midgely says that the event even garnered a Rivers West 2018 Volunteer Recognition Award for Culture – Event of the Year for the Goodsoil Heritage Museum, which hosted the event. She has another new community in mind for Culture Days 2018.

Across the province there were 314 Culture Days events held in 44 communities, engaging an estimated 27,500 people in arts and cultural activities. Most of the participating communities are longstanding Culture Days champions including the 12 that enjoy the distinction of having been involved since the beginning. There were also ten new communities in 2017 (including Goodsoil). Seven made official proclamations and/or held flag-raising ceremonies to kick-off the Culture Days weekend and the Province of Saskatchewan again showed its continued support by declaring September 29, 30 and October 1, 2017,  as Culture Days in Saskatchewan.

The Culture Days Funding Assistance program approved 17 of its 20 event applications, and 18 of its 20 hub applications for a total of$85,000 in grants. In addition, SaskCulture provided Saskatchewan Libraries Association with a one-time sponsorship of $1,000 in order to provide some Culture Days funds to libraries hosting activities. This was shared among 10 libraries for their respective Culture Days events.

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