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Ottawa ups financial contribution to Culture Days

A Canadian flag flies on Parliament Hill Friday February 15, 2013 in Ottawa. Feb. 15th marks the day in 1965 when the red and white maple leaf flag was first raised over Parliament Hill.

Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The federal government is contributing $1-million over the next two years to Culture Days, the annual three-day national celebration of arts and culture that started in 2010. Paul Calandra, Conservative MP and parliamentary secretary to Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore, made the announcement Friday in Toronto before 250 delegates to the 2013 National Congress on Culture.

The money will go toward determining best practices in digital marketing and social media for the estimated 2,000 arts and heritage organizations falling under the Culture Days umbrella. At the same time, it will "help [these] organizations develop a more effective relationship … a sustainable rapport with the private sector," said David Moss, Culture Days national program director.

The $500,000 earmarked for 2013 represents a 3-per-cent increase from the $485,000 in federal funding spent last year.

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Administering the new money will be the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, "host organization or custodian" for Culture Days. The not-for-profit event, modelled on Quebec's long-running Journées de la culture, last year presented 7,000 free, family-friendly programs in 850 communities across the country, drawing audiences of more than 1.6 million. This year's edition is scheduled for September 27 through September 29.

Culture Days is more organizing principle or network than actual organization. It has only a skeleton dedicated staff and is run by a potpourri of extant arts, cultural and business enterprises organized into a national advisory council, an executive committee and provincial task forces. Its annual budget is modest, too – around $1-million in cash, with another $1-million in "in kind" contributions.

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