Saturday, October 1, 2016

Culture Days is underway!

This is a big weekend not only in Niagara but around the country as we celebrate Culture Days.  So before the day gets any older, let's take a look at some of the events happening today and tomorrow in and around Niagara you might want to support.

Culture Days is a Canada-wide celebration that just happens to be the largest-ever public participation campaign courtesy the arts and cultural communities throughout the country.  Events include free hands-on activities that invite the public to see what goes on "behind the scenes" in the artistic community, including artists, creators, historians, architects, curators and designers to name but a few.

Here in St. Catharines, much of the activity will be happening downtown, the heart of the arts district in Niagara.  Events are already underway or will be shortly at various locations including the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts, Rodman Hall and many other venues.  You can access a full listing of events in the city this weekend at the City of St. Catharines website at

One of the biggest events will happen throughout the afternoon at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre as they celebrate their first anniversary this weekend - hard to believe it has been open for a full year already!  There will be events happening throughout the venue including tours by staff and volunteers, so that will be a great place to start your Culture Days experience.

One of the more interesting events at the PAC is the Instrument Petting Zoo, a free event running through to 3 pm presented by the Niagara Symphony Orchestra and the Niagara Youth Orchestra, with instruments on loan from Long & McQuade in downtown St. Catharines.  Musicians and staff from both organizations will be on hand to guide visitors in an interactive, hands-on exploration of orchestral instruments.

This is a great opportunity to see up close how the instruments work and perhaps light a fire under a young, aspiring musician in your family, or just find out for yourself what a bassoon really looks like, for example.  The event takes place on the stage of the Cairns Recital Hall at the PAC and is perfect for kids of all ages.

You can walk next door to the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts as they welcome guests for guided tours as well, and you can say hello to Boomer the Badger at the David S. Howes entrance off the Raceway.  You might prefer to tour the facility on your own or experience the more formal guided tours by staff, which are now underway.

There is also a poster exhibition of research from the Faculty of Humanities, and an exhibition of contemporary art in the MIWSFPA Art Gallery, open until 4 today and tomorrow.

Both the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre and Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts are fully wheelchair accessible.

The events happen elsewhere in downtown St. Catharines as well, with my neighbour Sandy Middleton hosting events at her cozy photographic and art studio above the OddFellows Hall on James Street throughout the afternoon today, and my friends at CFBU-FM, the Brock Radio Station, are holding an open house from noon to 2 pm today.  The station is located in the downtown student residence, the former Welland House Hotel, at 30 Ontario Street.

Down in Niagara Falls, the Niagara Falls Museums are also participating in Culture Days this weekend.  Today and tomorrow the Niagara Falls History Museum on Lundy's Lane will feature free admission, and offer behind the scenes tours by the curator twice daily at 11 am and 1 pm.  The renovated space at the museum is an exceptional space, so if you have yet to experience it for yourself, this is the weekend to do it!

Culture Days is happening around the country with over 900 cities and towns participating.  You can find out more what's happening by going to

Enjoy your weekend!

October 1st, 2016.

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