London Community News
By Sean Meyer/London Community News/Twitter: Newswriter22
Chances are if someone is a fan of live theatre, they will purchase their ticket, sit in their seat, enjoy the show and then go home.
However, theatre fans that take part in Doors Open (Sept. 29-30) and London Culture Days (Sept. 28-30), will also have the opportunity to perhaps try on costumes or even help build props for an upcoming show.
That interactive element is a key part of Culture Days, which is taking place for the third time in the Forest City, but the first time alongside Doors Open, which is taking place for the 11th year. The London Heritage Council and London Arts Council have worked together to create an event with 107 local arts, heritage and multi-cultural organizations’ activities and events.
The two organizations share a number of things around these two events, including staff members. Dhira Ghosh is events co-ordinator for the two while Kristin Holbrook is communications co-ordinator.
Both agree on the positives of combining of the Doors Open and Culture Days with Ghosh calling it “the best possible decision” that could have been made.
“It has been wonderful. I think the best thing we could have done is bringing these two signature events under the same weekend,” Ghosh said. “It has really helped with cross-promotions. A lot of sites that are combined sites would have had to do the same thing twice and then it just doesn’t have the same impact.”
That impact is important because combining Doors Open and Culture Days has created the largest collective celebration of culture in the city. And perhaps even more impressive, the 107 organizations are the largest number of registered Culture Days’ activities in Canada.
“It is this big, uber culture weekend, which gets a great push by the two events being combined. I think working together just makes sense,” said Holbrook, who also thanked Doors Open for changing its date to later in the month. “They are both at the same time of the year. Culture Days is set nationally, so that can’t be moved around. Doors Open has always been mid-September, but they were kind enough to move so they could be brought together.”
The theme for this year’s Doors Open is Defending a Nation: Commemorating the Bicentennial Anniversary of the War of 1812r. This theme, Ghosh said, drew a number of military themed groups to Doors Open, including Wolseley Barracks, which is coming on for the first time, and the Air Force 427 Wing as well.
Last year’s Doors Open saw almost 32,000 people taking part — a record-breaking year.
“Not only was it the 10th anniversary last year, but they also had the South Street Hospital tour, which was a once in a lifetime thing. That was a very popular event,” Holbrook said. “For a lot of people, it has become a tradition. Museum’s they may not normally have the time to see, they have the opportunity to go. There are places that are never open, but will be for Doors Open.”
The success of Doors Open is also seen in Culture Days. Ghosh said she believes the first two years of Culture Days have really benefited from the interactive elements that are key to all the venues.
But in addition to that, Ghosh said the free nature of Doors Open probably plays a big role too.
“When something is free they can go, give it a try,” Ghosh said. “And if they feel it was worth their time, then they come back. It gives people that foot in the door, which is what makes things so popular.”
One key addition to Culture Days, Ghosh said, has been the involvement of the city’s various multi-cultural communities.
“They have embraced this concept and will be doing a mini-festival at each of their locations. So people will get, with the arts, with the heritage, a little taste of Little Italy, Little Portugal, Little Poland, things like that,” Ghosh said. “And it is spread fairly well across the city for the three days. I think the multi-cultural addition will be one of the highlights of Culture Days.”
Culture Days shares some common aspects with Doors Open. It allows people to look behind the scenes get a glimpse of places they wouldn’t normally have access to. But even more importantly, is the opportunity to interact with cultures that many London residents wouldn’t normally have contact with.
At the end of the weekend, Holbrook said she hopes people have seen as many places as they can and have had a lot of fun while doing so. Ghosh’s hopes were also for people to have a good time, but to also get a better sense about the cultural significance of the city they live in.
“I hope people appreciate and experience culture with a capital c,” Ghosh said. “Whether it is heritage, multi-cultural, arts, I hope they come to understand what a vibrant cultural community we have in London that can compete with any other big city.”
For more information about Doors Open and Culture Days, visit www.londonheritage.ca or www.londonarts.ca.
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