Ontario Culture Days announces eight Creatives in Residence


Artists present Ontario's 'Heartbeat' on the program's fifth anniversary

Ontario Culture Days (ONCD) announces eight new Creatives in Residence ahead of the Ontario-wide festival September 20 – October 13. 2024 marks the fifth year of the Creatives in Residence program, which has become a staple of the annual festival that many attendees look forward to. In 2024, the Creatives in Residence series will revolve around the theme of Heartbeat. Taking inspiration from Don Kwan's Heartbeat of the Valley, these multidisciplinary artists will use reclamation, research, collection and interventions to bring personal and collective experiences.

“Every year we look for creativity in Ontario's communities through the Creatives in Residence program,” says Ruth Burns, Executive Director of Ontario Culture Days. “This year, the projects will be presented under a curatorial banner titled Heartbeat. Heartbeat evokes energy, drum sounds, passion and power. The theme reflects the diversity of creative expressions that make Ontario arts and culture so unique and remarkable. We look forward to sharing these incredible projects with Ontarians during our fall festival.”

Creatives will be selected to participate in a 5-month residency program where they will collaborate with local institutions and communities to create new multidisciplinary works. Their output will culminate in installations, performances and community-based activities presented during Ontario Culture Days in the fall.

During the three-week festival, these artists bring audiences together in communities across Ontario:


Aaron Jones (Scugog and Toronto) is an artist, curator and entrepreneur whose lens-based work explores the complexity of black identity, nationality, culture, belonging and personal practice. For his residency, Jones will create an interactive art installation and performance called Sky Mirage, which includes a floating mirror and provides viewers with a space in the sky (to see each other) – an ode to self-reflection and the endless possibilities of the sky. Jones will lead large-scale group performances on the shores of Lake Scugog and beneath Toronto's Gardiner Expressway at The Bentway. Sky Mirage is an entry point for participants to get excited about floating, inflating and flying.

Reilly Knowles (London) will present the Magic Circle for Earth Communion project with an exhibition and workshop at Museum London. This large textile is a response to an illustration in the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, an influential manual of magic still used by settlers in Waterloo County in the 1950s. Knowles explores this folk magic and textile traditions in a “magical” sewing and patterning practice that seeks to reformulate our relationship to the land.

Don Kwan (Westmeath, Whitewater Region) will launch a new community event in his adopted home of Westmeath in the Whitewater Region of the Ottawa Valley. Kwan celebrates diversity and shines a spotlight on the visual and performative power of the arts in rural communities. For his residency project Heartbeat of the Valley, Kwan will bring locals together for a community event with Success Dragon Lion Dance Troupe, China Doll, Zaneta Pernicova and Thunderbird Sisters Collective.

Lucia Laford (Waawaaskone Kwe) (Sault Ste Marie) will create a multi-site art installation and host a gathering downtown. The project, titled Dibaajimo, includes sculptures and paintings in the Woodland style. She tells a story. She talks about the process of reclaiming culture and indigenizing urban spaces.

Vik Mudge and Skye Rogers (St. Catharines) will work with dancers of all levels to develop collaborative choreographies. The project, entitled Composing Community, will include two public workshops and will be followed by a dance performance at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, Robertson Theatre, St. Catharines.

Yasmeen Nematt Alla (Toronto) will present her residency project in a public performance in Toronto on the final weekend of the festival. Yasmeen will invite the public to a one-off kite-flying event called Thread that Tangles but didn't Knot. In this community event, where red kites can fail or soar, Nematt Alla will ask, “What does it mean to be a kite that never takes off? What does it mean to materialize a kite that will never fly despite an undeniable abundance of desire, aspiration and hope?” The community event will take place at Woodbine Beach Park.

Camila Salcedo (Toronto) is a Venezuelan-born interdisciplinary artist currently working primarily in textiles, digital art, and community art. During her residency, Camila presents UPCYCLED: Camila Salcedo & Iconography of the Venezuelan Diaspora. This installation features large-scale self-portraits of the artist wearing repurposed wearable artworks that reflect her Venezuelan pop culture. Salcedo's portraits are staged in various locations throughout Toronto's neighborhoods, including bodegas, parks, and other establishments.

Jennifer Willet (Point Pelee National Park) presents Baroque Biology, her residency project that will unfold as an outdoor art and science fair on Point Pelee. Willet invites visitors to explore the interplay between laboratory, creative process and ecosystem at the southernmost point of mainland Canada. The community event and science fair encourages locals and visitors to discover something new in this truly unique ecosystem.

Program partners include 401 Richmond, Art Gallery of Algoma, City of St. Catharines, East End Arts, Museum London, Scugog Arts, The Bentway, Toronto Public Library and Town of Oakville. A full list of partners and special events will be released in the fall.

Heartbeat was curated by Ruth Burns with Kyrstiana Bourdage, Noor Khan and Kaitlyn Patience.

Ontario Culture Days will take place from September 20 to October 13, 2024 throughout the province of Ontario.

For more information about Ontario Culture Days, visit our website at