Spotlight Recognition Program 2021

November 29, 2021

The Spotlight Recognition Program celebrates exemplary programming taking place each year as part of the Ontario Culture Days Festival. As the festival has adapted over the past year, so too have the Spotlight categories shifted to identify current programming trends. The following awards look to celebrate the creativity and ingenuity of program organisers who have created engaging events for Ontario audiences.


Best In-person Program

The complexities of in-person programming have never been greater than this year, as the province begins to reopen. In what ways did organisers creatively think about participation to bring audiences together in a safe and meaningful way.

Best Digital Program

​​Digital programming is so much more than pivoting online. How can we reach through the screen to build a meaningful connection with audiences when we are spread apart? This category looks at the ways organizers thought outside the box to create engaging experiences online.

Inclusive Programming

There are many barriers that exist which stop people from participating in arts and culture, and unfortunately, such impediments frequently go unacknowledged. This category recognizes those who have created more inclusive programming by putting equity and accessibility at the forefront.

People’s Choice

People’s Choice is an open-category accolade that allows the general public to recognize any program and its overall contribution to the Culture Days festival. The nominee that receives the greatest number of votes online will be awarded the Spotlight.

2021 Winners

Photo: Hollingsworth5


This program provided the public with a unique opportunity to contribute their personal pandemic stories directly on artist Pauline Gladstone’s canvas –  an 8′ long picnic table with over 127 story spots. 30 minute drawing sessions created story images located directly ON THE TABLE. These were private sessions, all about recording and telling a positive pandemic experience.  Once ON THE TABLE is completed, the picnic table is being donated to Halton Woman’s Place for their February Fundraising Auction.

Photo courtesy of Arts Milton


Arts Milton expanded its Culture Days programming from beyond the local arts centre to an outdoor, accessible venue in 2021. Their “Saturday Stage” events offered a live platform to local performing artists of all types including visual artists, dancers, musicians, theatre players, magicians and more. This provided the opportunity to perform in a public setting during a time in which this has become difficult. The events, held at Milton Community Sports Park, were a highlight for both performers and audiences alike after so long without arts and culture events.

Photo: Arts Milton


Grandmother’s Voice is a community of Indigenous elders, knowledge keepers, and educators. Truth and Reconciliation requires Canadians to develop a fundamentally-better understanding of Indigenous culture and history. This documentary looks at the work being done by the ‘Grandmas,’ along with other educators and activists, to help heal the scars of colonialism. It is a powerful tool and educational resource that can help share the message of the work being done by Grandmother’s Voice.

Photo: Rosaleen Egan


This innovative program offered a personal opportunity to restore and connect through site specific recorded guided meditations. Artist Chantal Garneau posted signs at three natural spaces or trails in Halton Hills inviting visitors to access the specific meditation for that space through a QR code. She also posted the meditations on her website so those not able to visit the physical space could benefit.

Photo courtesy of Arts Milton


Students from E.C. Drury Elementary School for the Deaf committed to this activity by deepening their understanding of Indigenous peoples and residential schools. They then created American Sign Language (ASL)  videos, sharing their learning. As an artistic addition, they created an ASL poem to express their feelings. The result was a series of videos with captions which were shared publicly with community members during Milton Culture Days. Students were present, along with an interpreter to ensure all attendees and participants had a full understanding during the videos and following question and answer period.

Photo courtesy of Fall for Dance North


her body as words was a film and sound installation exploring female identity and physicality through 9 solos and 2 chorus dances collaboratively created by Peggy Baker with renowned dance artists from across Canada. These artists offer gestural renderings touching on themes of race, gender expression, sexual orientation, sexual appetite, pregnancy, miscarriage, motherhood, disability, physical labour and aging. Captured by filmmaker Jeremy Mimnagh, these bodies of light and sound signal to the world from an installation on the screens at Yonge-Dundas Square and through a soundscape by Debashis Sinha available via an on-site QR code.

Photo courtesy of Madeline Fiore


Honeymoon, part one in the four-part series entitled My Pocketbook of I Love You’s is a project of artist Madeline Fiore. Created out of a book series of the same name, Madeline decided to turn this project into a film series. Audience members reflected that they were touched by the beautiful words and images expressed throughout the film, exploring themes of vulnerability.

Photo: Sandra Yeung Racco


Vaughan’s International Music Festival took place in the heart of  the new  Vaughan Metropolitan Centre and was a representation of inclusivity and togetherness. The program was a combined effort of community partners bringing together various performances that showcased local talents and musical genres including orchestral performances, African, Asian, Italian and spoken word. The program used music as the mode to bring people together and to learn and understand the many cultures that represent the City of Vaughan.