Over an intense four-week period, Mount Allison’s arts and culture marketing class organized Sackville’s seventh annual Culture Days, a national movement for strengthening community relationships with local artistry.
One of the few Canadian universities to host Culture Days, Mt. A offers its marketing students the hands-on opportunity to learn the value and role of marketing in conjunction with community event planning.
“I think this is a very unique course. I know a lot of other marketing courses have nothing to do with culture and art. I haven’t even taken a course that’s even touched on it,” said Jillian Edwards, a third-year student and coordinator of Mt. A’s Culture Days’ media.
The students organized every aspect (sans fundraising) of the community event by separating into themed “pods” to oversee media, production, operations and management/communications.
“[Culture Days] is such a great opportunity for us to learn and develop our marketing and communication skills, as well as operation and budgeting. It takes a lot of work,” Edwards said.
Originating from Quebec, Culture Days strives to create an accessible community space for artistic encounters, authentic moments of shared creativity between artists and their audience.
“The first day we came up with the theme, which is ‘culture comes together,’ and it ties into the [logo] design: different people around the world,” said Mathieu Mina, fifth-year student and coordinator of the marketing/communications pod.
“Obviously [in Sackville] we’re very contained to a local feel, but we have the MASSIE students doing origami. We have Henna. We have musicians from different areas who study in Sackville…The logo encapsulates bringing people together,” Mina said.
Last Friday, artists’ stations sprawled across Sackville’s Main Street, occupying popular destinations such as Mel’s, RBC, the Salvation Army and Tidewater Books. For one hour, pop-up art displays, craft workshops, and theatrical reenactments decorated downtown.
Sean Bourque, a Mt. A fine arts student and previous participant in Culture Days, displayed his artwork in front of Mel’s.
“I feel this is a good opportunity to get people out on the streets and see what other people are up to, and especially where people are doing so many different things,” Bourque said.
Within the realm of arts and culture, the goal of marketing does not always include profit. “When you take an intro marketing course, a lot of it is [about] selling a product,” said Keifer Bell, third-year student and member of the management/communications pod. “But we’re not selling anything. We’re just holding a free event for one hour.”
Free admission promotes Culture Days’ objective to “increase awareness, accessibility, participation and engagement of Canadians in arts and culture,” said Rosemary Polegato, professor of Mt. A’s marketing in arts and culture course. “It’s part of the movement. It has to be free,” Polegato said. “That goes with the access.”
Although accessibility necessitated free admission, artists received compensation in the form of gift certificates to Mel’s. “There’s this tendency to think ‘Oh, you know, just play something for me,’ and it’s not really like that. That’s an artist’s creation and work,” Polegato said. “So [the certificates are] a thank you.”
Co-authored By Mirelle Naud.