Westside Culture Days
The last few months have been taken up with Westside Culture Days, as well as work for Comic-Con and Gallery Odin. What is Westside Culture Days do you ask? Well, sit right down and I am happy to tell you!
Westside Culture Days came about because I am a big believer in community and I have been trying to think of a way to get artists and businesses to work together under one umbrella. In my book Art & Money, I talk about the benefits of businesses and artists working together. In the spring, my friend and fellow artist Vera Peltonen posted up a poster for an event she was involved in in Michigan.
I was immediately captivated by the possibilities here. The complaints normally heard on this side of the lake is that it is so spread out being about 20 square km, there are so many strip malls, so many business, so many failing because of the high cost of rent. Artists and creatives have no recourse for renting because of that rent and are pretty much invisible. Not only that but there are two governments on this side, both the Westbank First Nation (WFN) and District of West Kelowna (DWK) who don’t really get along. People live on WFN land and work on DWK land, and vice versa.
I thought wouldn’t it be great if this type of event could happen on this side of the lake? Wouldn’t it be great for the artists and cultural entities work together with businesses to go beyond the governmental problems? So it got me thinking …. Culture Days is coming up in September, it is May …. there is tons of time.
I approached my friend Melissa Brown who owns the Blenz here on the Westside. We talked about it, and she said that even if it just happens in her coffee shop, she is happy to participate. Then I went to talk to my friend Tracy Satin who is the Cultural Manager for the Westbank First Nation Sncəwips Heritage Museum. She was excited for the possibilities too. So we all made a plan. I went and talked to Bob Kusch with DWK who supported the idea, as well as Karen from Greater Westside Board of Trade. Tracy assigned Coralee Miller within the WFN Sncəwips Heritage Museum to work specifically on this project. Melissa talked to her many customers, also local business people, who got excited and many were able to grasp the vision and the passion.
Now, our locations for Westside Culture Days are WFN Sncəwips Heritage Museum, Westbank Shopping Centre, Dogwood Nursery, Main Street Westbank, Snya?tan Shopping Centre, Okanagan Landing Shopping Centre, Volcanic Winery, and more being added as businesses hear about it and artists talk about it. The landlord for Westbank Shopping Centre gave all the empty spaces and the use of the parking lots for free, we just have to get insurance for those three days to be able to use the empty spaces. I hope other landlords join in on that principle! Way to support your tenants Bentall-Kennedy!
We called it Westside Culture Days so that there is no differentiation between governments of WFN and DWK but included Westbank and West Kelowna as entities. We are a community and that is the focus. Below is a snapshot from the Westside Culture Days website, but you will probably hear more about this as time goes on. Small updates not yet published on that website are the inclusion of the Food Bank and the local Hockey teams.
The first press article… don’t you just love that sublimal and serendipitous ad … “Just got better” at the bottom?
Culture Days is a cross Canada cultural fair on Sep 26, 27 & 28. http://www.culturedays.ca. This event encourages creatives of all types and the public to interact in various ways some of them inventive and unusual. If you can think it, you can do it!
The Westside is a mix of very impersonal strip malls with many businesses scattered throughout the area and many spaces are empty. For this one weekend it could be very exciting to see the businesses cross the line of culture to participate in a very active way on this weekend. Some already are involved, and this could be a way for them to highlight it in a very visible way.
Culture Days aims to:
- FOSTER appreciation and support of the artistic and cultural life that is lived, created and expressed across the country in urban, suburban and rural areas alike;
- PROMOTE direct interaction between creators and citizens, as a key to increasing understanding and appreciation of art and culture; and
- AFFIRM that every citizen is the guardian of the cultural life of his or her community.
Culture Days believes that every individual — regardless of age, location or experience — has the right to access and participate actively in arts and culture.
Culture Days also believes that the arts and cultural sector makes a vital contribution to the economic and social development of Canada and contributes to the overall health of the country.
People who had never participated in the arts before found it exciting and rewarding, finding a side of themselves they did not think existed. To us, that is what Culture Days is all about.
-Pam MacKenzie, Consolidated Artist Group of 7s (North Bay, ON)