Alberta Culture Days

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Alberta Culture Days (formerly Alberta Arts Days) is a three-day, province wide celebration of the arts and culture. The first three years of Alberta Arts Days occurred during the third Friday, Saturday and Sunday of September. More recently, the event has moved to the last weekend of September, aligning the festival with the pan-Canadian Culture Days.[1] The purpose of Alberta Culture Days is to showcase the province’s artists, art organizations and cultural industries, encourage Albertans and its visitors to engage in the arts, and promote the importance of arts and culture as part of a prosperous and vibrant province.[2][3]


The first Alberta Arts Days occurred in 1974 during a three-day arts celebration in Red Deer, Alberta and coincided with the creation of Alberta’s first Ministry of Culture, but was not implemented into an annual event.[4]
In 2008, Alberta Arts Days was reinitiated by the province’s Ministry of Culture and Community Spirit. Governed by The Spirit of Alberta, Alberta’s cultural policy, Alberta Arts Days helps the Ministry achieve one of its stated goals to “Ensure Albertans, throughout the province, have access to a wide range of cultural experiences and opportunities.”[5] Albertans are encouraged to plan arts related events during the weekend, while others incorporate an artistic element to a project or event that is already planned.

Each year, the Government of Alberta forms a partnership with 2–5 facilities or organizations (in 2008, only one facility was selected). These facilities are deemed Feature Celebration Sites and partner with local community organizations to present events, workshops and performances throughout the weekend. The Arts Branch provides guidance and support to all Feature Celebration Sites during the planning and delivery stages.

The event's name was changed to Alberta Culture Days in 2012.[6]

Alberta Arts Days 2008[edit]

The modern day version of Alberta Arts Days was inaugurated as a one-day event that occurred on Saturday, September 6, 2008. Approximately 100 events took place in 30 communities across Alberta. The Feature Celebration Site was the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium (SAJA) in Calgary, which organized afternoon workshops and an evening gala. As part of the daytime events, rooms throughout the SAJA featured workshops (hosted by Albertan artists and performers) exploring various artistic disciplines. Workshops included short films, dance and performance art, author readings, Aboriginal arts and culture, art and new-media exhibits, and a symposium on art and culture’s role in improving quality of life. All daytime workshops and performances were free of charge.

The evening gala featured a collaboration of music and dance performances by Albertan artists and art organizations, highlighted by a special piece by the Alberta Ballet Company entitled The Fiddle and the Drum and a surprise appearance by Joni Mitchell. Evening performers also included Asani, Troy Twigg, The Swiftys, Dragon Fli Empire, DJD, Bomba, John Wort Harman, Lindsay Ell, Kris Demeanor, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Decidedly Jazz Danceworks and Tim Tamashiro. Also, three $50,000 art awards were presented to recognize artistic excellence. Stewart Lemoine was honoured the Tommy Banks Performing Arts Award, Alex Janvier was honoured the Marion Nicoll Visual Arts Award, and Sid Marty was honoured the Grant MacEwan Literary Arts Award.

Alberta Arts Days 2009[edit]

In 2009, Alberta Arts Days was expanded to three days and proclaimed as an annual event. It occurred from Friday, September 18 to Sunday, September 20. There were 116 different communities registering 571 events with the Alberta Arts Days event calendar.[7] Also, Alberta’s cultural industries formed a partnership around Alberta Arts Days to profile Alberta’s writing, publishing, music and film making in numerous libraries and book stores throughout the weekend.

The Feature Celebrations Sites were expanded to five different communities and included the following venues: Keyano Theatre in Fort McMurray, Myer Horowitz Theatre in Edmonton, the Fine Arts and Multi Media Centre in Olds, Alberta, EPCOR CENTRE for the Performing Arts in Calgary, and the Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Each venue provided free events and programming throughout the weekend featuring an array of artistic disciplines. A Saturday evening gala, showcasing Albertan performers at each venue, highlighted the celebration. Gala performers for each venue are listed below.

The Keyano Theatre: The McDades, Amy Heffernan, Mitch Osmond and the New Mondays, Karissa Sovdi, and Heather Blush and the Uppercuts.
The Myer Horowitz Theatre: The Dudes, Cadence Weapon, and Mike Plume.
Fine Arts and Multi Media Centre: Gord Bamford, The Polyjesters, Phillip Richard, and Jenn Beaupre.
EPCOR CENTRE: Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Alberta Ballet Company, Theatre Calgary, Alberta Theatre Projects, Neil Cockburn on the Carthy Organ, Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, and Honens Laureates.

Alberta Arts Days 2010[edit]

The third annual Alberta Arts Days occurred from Friday, September 17 to Sunday, September 19, 2010. There were 91 communities registering 681 events with the Alberta Arts Days events calendar. The inaugural Culture Days, a pan-Canadian celebration of the arts and culture launched in September 2010, cited Alberta Arts Days as an inspiration for its creation.[8] The five Feature Celebration Sites selected were as follows: Southern Alberta Arts Gallery in Lethbridge,[9] Centre for Creative Arts in Grande Prairie,[10] Bower Pond Stage in Red Deer,[11] the Arden Theatre in St. Albert, Alberta and the Banff Centre.[12]

Also, High River was selected as the winner of the CBC Radio Cultureville contest.[13]

Alberta Arts Days 2011[edit]

The fourth annual Alberta Arts Days occurred from Friday, September 30 to Sunday, October 2, 2011.[14] There were 93 communities registering 1,046 events with the Alberta Arts Days events calendar.

The dates for Alberta Arts Days 2011 aligned the provincial celebration with the pan-Canadian Culture Days.[1] The Government of Alberta is provided support for Alberta Arts Days 2011 in 49 communities by selecting five Feature Celebration Sites and 64 Host Celebration Sites.[15] Each Celebration Site presented free, family-friendly events and activities during the Alberta Arts Days 2011 weekend. The five Feature Celebration Sites were as follows: Creative Airdrie Society,[16] Calgary Public Libraries, Fort MacLeod and District Allied Arts Council,[17] Blue Quills First Nations College in St. Paul, and the Arts and Culture Council of Strathcona County.[18]

Also, Peace River, Alberta was selected as the winner of the CBC Radio Cultureville 2011 contest.[19]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ Naclia, Janet, “Alberta Arts Days: Check it Out!”, Arts and Culture with ACE website blog, "( Source 1)", 5 July 2010
  3. ^ Alberta Arts Days website, "About Alberta Arts Days", "( Source 2)", 14 July 2010
  4. ^ Babiak, Todd, “Alberta Arts Day Gala in Calgary,” The Edmonton Journal, "(", 7 September 2008
  5. ^ Government of Alberta, The Spirit of Alberta: Alberta's Cultural Policy, page 10, "(", Edmonton: Queen's Press, January 2008
  6. ^ "Alberta Culture Days website". Retrieved 16 July 2012. 
  7. ^ Ministry of Culture and Community Spirit, “About Alberta Arts Days”, Alberta Arts Days website, "(", 5 July 2010
  8. ^ Canada NewsWire, "Canada Celebrates First Culture Days" "(", 20 September 2010
  9. ^ L.A. Beat, "SAAG Officially Re-opened" "(" 17 September 2010
  10. ^ Grande Prairie Daily Herald Tribune, "City Does a Fine Job Showcasing its Artistic Talents" "(" 20 September 2010
  11. ^ Red Deer Advocate, "Celebrate Alberta Arts Days at Bower Ponds" "(" 7 September 2010
  12. ^ Visual Arts Alberta Association, "Five Facilities to Lead 2010 Alberta Arts Days", Visual Arts Alberta Association website blog, "(", 5 July 2010
  13. ^ CBC Radio website, "Help CBC Celebrate Alberta Arts Days" "(" 16 September 2010
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