If you wander into The Staircase Theatre on Dundurn Street North at just the right time during the week of June 2nd to the 9th, you’ll be treated to an extraordinary dance performance. It will occur too at the Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts Dance Theatre, which is another featured spot for a dance show. The performances are part of the compendium of activities that are planned for Hamilton Arts Week, a celebration of the arts that will showcase the events of over 50 partnering arts organizations.
Thanks to an explosion of the arts in Hamilton, the city has become a hot spot for artists, musicians, writers and dancers from across Canada. All combined, it has transformed the city from blue collar into multi-colour. Hamilton Arts Week will take that to another level by bringing together artists from all over the city and from every artistic medium to showcase their work. “It’s a civic celebration of arts and culture in Hamilton,” says Annette Paiement, Executive Director of the Hamilton Arts Council, which is organizing the event. “That’s important because arts and culture create the fabric of a community. They’re like the soul and the spirit of a city. If you think about art and design, it’s in everything we do. It’s in architecture, planning and urban design. It’s in everything from the food we eat to the pillow we put our head on at night.”
The Hamilton Arts Council has been supporting artists and supporting the arts scene since it was founded in 1969. Its mission statement is to strengthen the role of the arts and culture in Hamilton and to make the arts more accessible and relevant to the community. Over the years, the Council has advocated and mediated for the arts and the role of the arts in the community. Paiement was on the Council’s board a number of years ago and helped restructure it and changed the branding. She took over as the Executive Director last November. “Our very important role is advocacy and being available to speak on behalf of artists,” she says.
When it comes to supporting artists, the Council provides pro-fessional development opp-ortunities and runs a workshop series called Living Arts Hamilton, where artists can learn about grant applications, marketing, branding and communications. They also partnered with an insurance company to provide their 200 plus members with health and dental insurance, as part of their member benefits.
Then there’s the Hamilton Arts Council Residency, which provides an opportunity for emerging artists to build their practice at a space sponsored by the Cotton Factory. The “I am the Artist” project celebrates various artists through the 30 banners that were installed along King William Street.
The activities during Hamilton Arts Week are citywide and will kick off with a launch celebration that will feature a night market, interactive installations and performances by the Hamilton Aerial Group, TH&B Collective and more! The launch event is free to the public and will also include an outdoor screening after sunset of Metric: Dreams So Real, and food presentations by Nellie James and Jonny Blonde Food Truck.
During the week, there will be a Smokey Hollow Studio Tour featuring over 30 Maker Spaces in Waterdown and Flamborough, and The Salsa Congress will be presented by Salsa Soul. There will also be poetry readings, noon hour concerts, literary events and dance classes. “We have an incredible group of sponsors and volunteers, and community support has been overwhelmingly positive,” remarks Paiement. She says the Hamilton Arts Council can’t take credit for starting the arts resurgence, but they did everything they could to help build on it. “Grassroots artists created it. They did that on their own. I think the role of the Hamilton Arts Council has been to be there as a support and to help with some marketing and other services.”
by Denise Davy
Hamilton Arts Week
The Staircase Theatre
Redchurch Cafe + Gallery