February: Hamilton Winterfest, DesignTO, Canadian Comedy Festival, and more!

Dear Friends,

We are excited to tell you that 2024 marks the 25th anniversary of the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund! To be precise, our Letters Patent were approved on March 9, 1999; the first board was assembled with Dr. Murray Frum as Chair; I was hired in June of that year; the board met for the first time in August; and by the fall we had approved investments to the first seven major events, led by the Royal Ontario Museum’s Egypt in the Age of the Pyramids. Whew! And it’s been a whirlwind ever since. Since that time OCAF has approved support to almost 1,000 events, hundreds of organizations, located in over 150 Ontario communities.

The combination loan and grant program is unique in this field. For every $1.00 we’ve received from the Government of Ontario, we’ve been able to distribute $1.68 to events throughout the province. Our support to market the event helps the organization strengthen its earned revenue capacity and attract new visitors by being able to spend more on promotion. The program was considered experimental at the time and no one was quite sure if OCAF would make it. Here we are, 25 years later, going strong with the biggest funding year (number of groups funded) we’ve ever had! Clearly the need and demand are still there and growing. This newsletter will feature stories of successful events and behind-the-scenes glimpses of the history of cultural tourism in this province over the next 12 months.

Stay tuned for more announcements along the way as we plan to be in a number of regions over the next year to celebrate your successes that we’ve been able to play a small role in helping to make happen!

Yours in 25,

Kathleen Sharpe
Executive Director

Events On Now: Opening

Hamilton Winterfest 2024 will take place from February 2nd to 19th, 2024, offering 70 events created by community arts, education and recreation partners. The Festival brings everything from classical concerts to exhibitions, workshops and classes, swing dance and story-time, science to sports!

In addition to the community events, Winterfest Hub is coming to a new exciting location. This year the rooftop of Jackson Square will be transformed with over 20 site-specific light installations, murals and performances. Concerts and live comedy on Friday nights, a Valentine’s Day party not to be missed, and a Family Day Extravaganza with music, food and activities designed for the whole family in partnership with the Art Gallery of Hamilton and the Hamilton Public Library.
Learn more.

The Canadian Comedy Hall of Fame Festival is coming to Hamilton from February 21-24 and will showcase a variety of comedy shows and interactive exhibits. You can explore the The CCHOF Exhibit, showcasing Canada’s comedy history, Cultural Comedy Mosaic with various performers, an all-Indigenous show Got Land?, and Nous Sommes Bilingue featuring francophone comedians.

The three main shows will honor local and international comedic talent, including inductions of Jim Carrey, Martin Short and Eugene Levy. Other featured events include film screenings and an opening and closing gala with performances from various comedians and Blue Rodeo.

Learn more.

Events: Ongoing

This month DesignTO Festival brings people together to design a better future, one that is more sustainable, just, and joyful. The Festival happens online and in-person at venues across the City of Toronto. Most events and exhibitions are free, but some require a RSVP or purchased tickets. All window installations are viewable from the outdoors.

DesignTO Festival is Canada’s leading and largest annual design festival that celebrates design as a multidisciplinary form of creative thinking and making, with 100+ free exhibitions and events. Learn more.

Magdalene Odundo: A Dialogue with Objects is on until this spring at the Gardiner Museum and features the exquisite sculptural vessels one of the world’s most renowned ceramic artists, Dame Magdalene Odundo. Her first exhibition in Canada and the largest ever presentation of her work in North America, the show brings together works spanning the artist’s career, including new pieces directly from her studio.

Odundo’s work will be in dialogue with art and artifacts from many time periods and cultures, ranging from ancient Mediterranean figurines to monumental Abstract Expressionist painting, to explore the connections that unite us as humans. These dialogues, and Odundo’s practice, model working trans-culturally in ways that are neither colonial nor extractive, while interrogating the role of museum collections of historical objects as well as hierarchies of Western art.

Learn more.

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