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Roots & Routes


Ontario Culture Days invited established artists in Ontario to submit proposals to produce new artworks to be featured in an Ontario-wide Culture Days 2017 project, Roots & Routes, which  will take place at Toronto’s Union Station and in municipalities across Ontario from Sep 29 to Oct 1, 2017. Commissioned artists will also mentor the creation of related new works by emerging artists from their own communities.

The presentation of Roots & Routes is contingent upon the receipt of funding still to be announced. The following is a call for expressions of interest to be included in upcoming funding applications prior to an estimated project launch in March 2017.

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About Union Station

Toronto’s Union Station is Canada's busiest, most important multi-modal passenger transportation hub, a designated National Historic Site, and a significant part of Toronto's history and identity.  More than a quarter-million people use Union Station daily. The City of Toronto is leading Union Station's revitalization with three objectives: to improve the quality and capacity of pedestrian movement; to restore heritage elements; and to transform Union Station into a major destination for shopping, dining and visiting. Follow Toronto Union Station on social @torontounion


On the occasion of Canada’s 150th Anniversary, Roots & Routes invited artists and members of the public from across Ontario to contribute to a deeper understanding of what it means to be Canadian and Ontarian through the power of shared artistic and cultural expression. Roots & Routes looks back at where our culture came from, and looks forward to where we are going.

Highlighting Toronto’s Union Station as a gateway to Ontario, Roots & Routes will explore the impact of railways, waterways, roadways, pathways, trails, virtual and personal networks, and other physical and cultural “routes” that link the province and “root” us to a sense of community.

Delving into the “roots and routes” of Ontario’s diverse arts and cultural heritage, this project asks all Ontarians to explore where our individual and collective identities originated and where they are going. Where does artistic and cultural expression come from? Where and how do cultures take root in a community? How is a community’s culture shaped by the many individual and collective voyages that bind and connect us to together? How will culture guide us on our collective journey as a province and a nation?


Established artists based in Ontario with five or more years of experience working in any artistic discipline and invested in or committed to fostering a community-engaged practice were invited to apply to produce a new commissioned work for presentation at Toronto’s Union Station during Culture Days 2017 (September 29 to October 1, 2017).

As a part of their commissioned activities, each established artist will also mentor the creation of a new commissioned work by an emerging youth artist from their own region. These youth-driven works will be produced locally in their own community as a part of Culture Days 2017 while also being linked simultaneously to the Union Station presentation of Roots & Routes through livestreaming or other digital methods. Established artists may recommend their own choices for an emerging artist, or select an emerging artist from the pool of applicants to the second annual cohort of Ontario Culture Days’ Youth Arts Ambassadors Program (2017-18).   

A total of five established artists and five youth artists will be commissioned to represent each of the following regions of the province: Northern Ontario, Southeastern Ontario, Southwestern Ontario, Central Ontario/GTA, and Toronto.
Local communities across the province will be invited to produce their own project hubs for Culture Days 2017 under the theme of Roots & Routes. Members of the public will also be encouraged to submit their own stories, videos, and testimonials in response to the project theme. 


Established artists chosen for R&R will select and mentor an emerging artist who meets the Youth Arts Ambassadors Program requirements, as follows:


Proposals were reviewed by Ontario Culture Days staff and partners using the following criteria: