IT’S AN ALL encompassing term used to convey an assortment of subjects such as theatre, visual arts, music, creative writing, and dance; the arts are, to some, simply passing amusements, rather than the foundation of Canadian culture. Usually investing in arts and culture falls to wayside with politicians and is abandoned by the general population. To amend this, our country can now celebrate an annual festival, honouring arts and culture in our cities.
Already in its second year, Culture Days is a nationwide event celebrating the unique culture of Canadian cities. For three days this past weekend, cities across the country commemorate their personal ideas of Canadian culture and identity through the arts.
While it’s fantastic there are events to celebrate every facet of the arts and our culture with tours of historical buildings, costume making, acting, dance, poetry readings, and improv workshops, one question keeps going through my mind—do we really need culture days?
It takes more than three days of promoting culture to call us cultured. The festival—though its intentions may be good—makes our cities come across like a really whiny, annoying friend who desperately wants attention. What happens when the event is over? Do we abandon arts in the city and forget all about our endeavours to bolster Canadian culture ?
Some of the main goals of the festival are to raise more interest, attendance, participation, and accessibility in locally based arts scenes. Although it’s too early to tell if this festival will actually help culture within cities nationwide, one thing is for certain: It takes more than a mere three days for widespread recognition and appreciation for the arts to come about.
There is so much more to Ottawa—and Canada, for that matter—than maple leaves and hockey. I applaud Culture Days for attempting to display this with such a festival, but I believe the creators went about implementing this festival all wrong. Instead of putting money toward an event that showcases the arts scene and our culture, why not put money into enriching our culture? Invest more money in original Canadian programming so we can have more Canadian television and movies. Put money toward local theatres, bands, and schools so we can teach kids about the arts and help out artists.
Art isn’t something that can be compressed into three days; culture isn’t something that’s spawned in 72 hours. Ottawa has a unique culture that is to be experienced 365 days a year. That’s how it should be celebrated—every freaking day!
Through The Lens is the column of the arts and culture editor, Sofia Hashi, who is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (613) 562-5931.