Third annual arts week proves we’re more than steel

feel like I’ve said this a million times already, but it bears repeating. We’re so lucky in Hamilton! Our gritty exterior holds something precious – a vibrant and engaging arts scene. From music to fine art, spoken and written word to dance, murals, theatre, sculptures, public art spaces, Hamilton is more than the sum of all its parts. With the third annual Arts Week, we’re invited to experience all of those parts.

What is Arts Week? It’s a city-wide civic celebration from June 2-9, 2018 of our arts community, the fine artists, musicians, dancers, theatre, and everything in between that gives Hamilton depth, richness and fun. It’s well documented that the economic impact of art and culture is overwhelmingly positive. 2017’s Supercrawl alone brought in $16.5 million. In 2016, film production in our city brought in a flashy $11 million and we got to boast that our town was featured in a number of high profile films and television shows (thanks, Guillermo del Toro!) When we hosted the JUNO Awards in 2015, the city pocketed $12 million. So yeah, I think we’re doing pretty good as art and culture town.

Despite this success, there are still some areas that don’t get as much attention, Arts Week can provide these areas (disciplines) a platform. says Annette Paiement, Executive Director of the Hamilton Arts Council. “It’s a great way to showcase the diversity of arts and culture and bring attention to the different types of art created in our Steel City. Now in its third year,” says Annette, “we are focusing on increasing the footprint to include communities throughout the GHTA,” meaning there are more opportunities in more parts of the city to experience art.
Events planned for and around Arts Week range from workshops, to studio tours, an art supply swap, to book and poetry readings. The centrepiece of Arts Week is the 2018 City of Hamilton Arts Awards held at Theatre Aquarius on Wednesday, June 6. Anything you fancy you can find while exploring Arts Week. The Casbah is hosting a Reggae dance party on Thursday, June 7 or check out the Together in Dance Symposium (3-6 pm) and Hip Hop Roundtable (4-7 pm) both held on Friday, June 8. The last two events are an opportunity for members of their respective arts community to discuss and bring awareness to their respective disciplines. “It’s been interesting to see people come together and initiate two different panels and use this time as an opportunity for advocacy,” Annette says. Hamilton Arts Week provides artists with a new platform.”

Annette mentions that dance is in some ways “the last discipline which receives the attention it needs,” and one of the goals is to find a way to change that.

If fine art is more of your interest you’ll want to check out the Smokey Hollow Studio Tour or take the Art Bus from The Seedworks. The tour begins in downtown Waterdown and showcases 40+ artist studios in Waterdown, Flamborough, Kilbride and Carlyle who will open their doors to the public for the day. If you’ve ever been to a studio tour you know each artist’s studio space is unique to their personality. The Art Bus Tour starts at The Seedworks Urban Offices at 11 a.m. and returns at 5 p.m. You’ll be a tourist in your own backyard!

It ’s also not too late to add your event to Arts Week, either. You can list your event on the Hamilton Arts Council website. So long as it’s happening between June 2 – 9, it can be a part of the festivities. And if you’re just looking for an opportunity to celebrate the diversity of our arts scene, there’s no better way to do that than to attend the Arts Week Kick-Off Celebration at The Cotton Factory (270 Sherman Ave North) on Saturday, June 2. There will be a night market with over 30 artists, interactive art and live performances from the Hamilton Aerial Group, Bel Canto Strings, and TH&B Collective. Jonny Blonde and Nellie James will be serving up food and a screening of Metric: Dreams So Real at 9 p.m. followed by more live music until 1 a.m. with Kojo “Easy” Dampty, Tiny Bill Cody and UK Cinema. Then spend the rest of the week checking out the 100+ events throughout the city and learn more about the richness and diversity of our arts and culture scene.