Sunday, November 27, 2022

Hamilton Election Results: Responses on the Arts

On Monday, Hamilton voted for a lot of change. After the ballots were counted, ten new faces were elected to City Council to shape and build Hamilton over the next four years.

So where do the Mayor-elect and Councillors-elect stand on the arts?

Prior to the election, Hamilton Arts Council and Beyond James collaborated on a survey to send to all municipal candidates. The responses from our Council-elect who responded, are below.

Mayor: Andrea Horwath

What arts event is a must-do for every Hamiltonian? 

Any. Too many Hamiltonians are completely unaware of the rich and diverse arts scene in all areas of our City. ANY event, or any exposure to any genre in any part of Hamilton will provide an entry point into an endless journey of discovery, imagination, enlightenment, inspiration, and appreciation. And for those already in the know…get out of your comfort zone and attend something new. 

How will you leverage your position as Mayor to advance the arts in Hamilton? 

There are examples of Mayors taking leadership when it comes to the arts. My experience is that leadership on the arts comes from values and commitment. As a city councillor I worked with the arts community and pushed for the arts to be included as a cluster in our city’s economic development strategy. I bird-dogged the public art requirement as a percentage of value of infrastructure projects. This provided me the chance to sit on a jury which is an experience I will never forget. I learned so much from the artists that I served on that jury with. Bottom line, you have to believe, as I do, that the arts are the soul of a city (and I’ve always said Hamilton is a City with a soul). Show up. Participate. Celebrate. Promote. Support. Take responsibility to make things happen. 

As Mayor, how would you advocate for investment in Hamilton arts and culture community during the City budget process? 

Pay attention and look for opportunity, engage with the community, ensure artists are not priced out of our City. We need to identify and maximize every opportunity to build investment and support for the arts into all parts (and departments) of budget deliberations. But its not just about being reactive, its about being proactive. Edenborough’s Music is Audible program is an example. Creating a forum where music stakeholders engaged with several city departments to give a voice to the sector and create policy that met everyone’s objectives. 

How will you ensure working artists are able to continue building Hamilton’s culture? 

The reality is that without pro-active policies we will continue to see artists create the vibrant neighborhoods that then become unaffordable to the very people that created them. I was interested to see what London (England) has been doing in their creation of Creative Enterprise Zones (CEZs) in planning processes. I think this concept is worth exploring in Hamilton and if elected Mayor I will do exactly that. We already have special Community Improvement Plan (CIPs) areas that receive various incentives, exploring CEZs is a next step. Cultural Infrastructure Plans and Open source mapping to connect people to what’s happening in the City are other great ideas that are worth looking at. 

In the last few years, artists have lost a number of venues to showcase their work, including Artword Artbar, This Ain’t Hollywood, The Pearl Company and more. What role do you see the City of Hamilton having in fostering and expanding the number of accessible arts venues? 

These losses have been a blow, no doubt. Our city continues to grow and transform. Much of the spark for this comes from the inspiration and determination of Hamilton artists. Transformation led to dislocation. Artists priced out of the very neighbourhoods they animated. The City of Toronto has created some property tax breaks aimed at reducing the pressure for owners of venues being housing arts and culture activities to sell as markets (and taxes) increase. These are worth looking at. Also see responses to #4 and #5. We should be Integrating arts and culture as a “given” into the fabric of what we do as a City.

Ward 1 (Chedoke-Cootes): Maureen Wilson

What arts event is a must do for every Hamiltonian? 

I am a lover of the built form. I would recommend Hamilton’s Open Doors weekend as a must do for Hamiltonians. I believe Hamilton was the first Canadian city to have an architect on staff whose role it was to advise on urban form and design.  Mr. Stan Roscoe’s legacy is visible throughout Hamilton including a beautiful public washroom on the far west end of the Chedoke Golf Course. At one time, our public works, schools, libraries and public spaces were designed to inspire and serve as examples of the importance of art, detail and what could and should be built.  As I have written previously, beauty is critical to successful city building.  Because beauty is hope and people are drawn to beauty.  And when people are drawn to beauty, we are drawn to each other in a shared space.  When we value the built form, we can extend that value into all art and culture.

What do you see as an opportunity to expand arts and culture in Hamilton? 

I think accessibility is important in any effort to expand arts and culture. For example, the West Hamilton Artists Tour enabled residents to access art in different homes throughout Ward 1 and connect with artists in peoples’ kitchens, living rooms and hallways.  I think the placement of art exhibits in public places like the Hamilton Public Library or throughout the grounds of the RBG is also a great expansion opportunity.  Municipalities need to either get out of the way to enable expansion or do what is possible to enable expansion.

If elected, how will you leverage your position as a City Councillor to advance the arts in Hamilton? 

I think I have significant learning to do about the realities facing artists in Hamilton.  The cost of dirt and rising rents are displacing artists and art performance.  I realize that the conditions brought by COVID-19 were devastating to many artists including musicians.  Arts and culture must be included in our pathway to recovery.  I support reviewing the city’s Enrichment Fund as I don’t believe that it has kept pace with need and impact.  I believe the municipality has to make it easier for people gather and enjoy each other, often buoyed by art and culture.  For example, the closure of Locke Street for pedestrian access only is costly for the Locke St. BIA to do, but it provides valuable space for arts and culture. Permits should not be a barrier to this kind of initiative.  I have been advised that live/work development needs to be encouraged and enabled and the availability of live performance space is critical.  You can’t be a music city without an appropriate and economically viable place to play music.  In short, I need to lean into this, commit to listening and support action that will support artists.

Ward 2 (Downtown): Cameron Kroetsch

What arts event is a must do for every Hamiltonian?  

Hamilton Fringe Festival (HFF). I picked this arts event because I think that it broadly encompasses the arts in our city – music, visual art, performance art, theatre, and improvisation. The programming has, in my experience, been designed to reach a variety of audiences and invite people into new or unusual spaces to experience art and culture. It also has free components, which reduces barriers to participation for many Hamiltonians. I also chose HFF because I think it does a good job of bringing people to the downtown core and because it has connected disability justice and Indigenous sovereignty to its programming in impactful ways.

What do you see as an opportunity to expand arts and culture in Hamilton? 

I think that the City of Hamilton can do a better, and more equitable, job of investing in the arts in our city. I’ve taken the time to listen to emerging and established artists, cultural organizations, theatre directors, and residents about the issues they’re facing. Here are some of the priorities I’ve heard, and that I think are opportunities for improvement.

  • More funding – The City needs to make it easier to provide seed funding to help emerging and existing arts and cultural organizations. The Province and the Federal government often need to see that the municipality is on board before they jump in. That means, in part, reimagining the City Enrichment Fund, and making it more inclusive and equitable. I was a juror, for 2 years, for the City Enrichment Fund. While they’ve made some improvements to the process, they need to go much further. Equity means recognizing those who have been traditionally underrepresented and doing more to break down barriers for and with them. 
  • Follow through – In the past, the City has commissioned huge studies, done research, and committed to plans. The problem is that there’s no dedicated staff responsible for follow through, checking back, and ensuring that the plan is followed. Benchmarks need to be followed closely. In some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent by the City to commission studies, where key solutions have been provided, but those studies have quickly become outdated because they are not implemented in a timely manner. 
  • Engagement – It’s important to show up to events in order to understand how they offer uplift and impact to communities, but it’s just as important to meet with the folks behind the scenes to understand their experiences and pressure points. I’m committed to deep engagement when it comes to how the cultural sector impacts downtown communities. That means making sure that I go beyond showing up at events and make time to connect with those who are on the ground doing this work. 

I think, if prioritized, more funding, follow through, and increased access will all provide opportunities to expand arts and culture in Hamilton. The City must do everything it can to support the community as a partner and to reduce barriers. 

If elected, how will you leverage your position as a City Councillor to advance the arts in Hamilton? 

I think it’s important for members of City Council to connect with both artists and arts and cultural organizations. I will be prioritizing that engagement. I will follow through on that engagement, at the Council table, by ensuring that there is adequate reporting and assessment of the work that the City is doing to support arts and culture. As a City, we have to make space for challenging critical conversations about how we can do better. In part, that means debriefing with artists and organizations after events to ensure that future partnerships are better.

  • Increased access – There needs to be an easy way for the public, and members of Council, to get a hold of reporting, studies, and other documents that have already been produced, review those documents, find key takeaways, and action them. Centralization is key to access. At present, even if a sitting member of Council wants to find out more, or follow up on something, it involves tracking down an individual member of staff who has “ownership of the file”. Vacations, departures, and new hires often disrupt the ability to follow up effectively. 
  • Assessment – The City isn’t doing enough to audit itself before, during, and after its successes and failures. Consistently debriefing after, planning beforehand, and engaging during events and programs can help the City to improve how it supports the cultural sector. An event doesn’t start and end with the approval of a SEAT application. As someone who has been involved in producing cultural events, I’ve rarely heard from the City after all the boxes are ticked. As things change, culturally, so too must these processes. 

I’m committed to meeting with folks in the arts and cultural sector who feel their voices are not being heard or they have had experiences that they think it is important for me to highlight to my colleagues on Council. 

I’m also dedicated to learning more from the community about the challenges they’re experiencing. Part of being a leader, for me, is about willingly taking on new learning, listening, and helping to problem solve. I look forward to getting to work on this right away if I’m elected to represent Ward 2 on City Council.

Ward 3 (Hamilton Centre): Nrinder Nann

What arts event is a must do for every Hamiltonian? 

Honestly, it is so exciting to get out to so many different arts based events across the city every month. That said, hitting up the seasonal art markets at The Cotton Factory is always such a great way to meet local artists, support their sales, and spend time with friends in community.

What do you see as an opportunity to expand arts and culture in Hamilton? 

I think there is opportunity to leverage existing city facilities and parks to help showcase local artists. I’d like to see every recreation facility feature a new visual artist annually on our expansive wall spaces, support live performances at the Tropical Greenhouse and in our parks, and see more sculpture and murals in our public realm.

If elected, how will you leverage your position as a City Councillor to advance the arts in Hamilton? 

  • My favorite quote about art is by Bertolt Brecht – “Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it.”
  • I recognize the role of art in contributing to healthy communities that foster a sense of belonging for all. I will continue to leverage my position as City Councillor to support the arts – individual artists, art based organizations, and continue to ensure funding allocations for the arts integrate an equity lens to ensure all artists in Hamilton feel supported and resourced to continue their contributions.

Ward 4 (East Hamilton): Tammy Hwang

What arts event is a must do for every Hamiltonian?

Hamilton Fringe – it is an opportunity to support all different types of art including theatre, galleries, and film. And it supports local content creators and actors while also experiencing stories from different perspectives in a live venue. Many times, people treat a night out at the Hamilton Fringe as an opportunity to also eat at a local restaurant, spend time in different venues, see a variety of acts and it is the epitome of highlighting and showcasing the vibrancy of our arts and culture scene in Hamilton. 

What do you see as an opportunity to expand arts and culture in Hamilton? 

The Bridgeworks is a great success in my mind as it’s a former City of Hamilton property that has been transformed into an arts space. This is an example of the City investing in the arts and culture of our community and it’s been a great business model to follow. I also believe a concerted and thoughtful approach to a dedicated arts space that can provide affordable live/work rents and studio spaces that will attract artists from outside of Hamilton in, would greatly enhance our arts and culture in Hamilton. I also see an opportunity to empower our community to create art opportunities in their own neighborhoods – create toolkits and resource workbooks to help guide community members on the do’s/don’ts, and rules to follow in order to make it happen.

If elected, how will you leverage your position as a City Councillor to advance the arts in Hamilton? 

As a City Councillor I’d like to explore ways to find funding for our Arts Community. This may mean evolving the current City Enrichment Funding or finding ways to leverage city dollars with other levels of government to create dedicated or pooled funding opportunities. Coming from Economic Development, I’ve also seen amazing collaborations on art and community spaces and adding sustainable/scalable business models to them so they can be self-sustaining. I want to leverage my existing network and platform to find opportunities for partnerships so we can help the independent artists and arts centred around Indigenous and persons of color so we’re actively building up vibrancy within our community.

Ward 5 (Redhill): Matt Francis

No response received.

Ward 6 (East Mountain): Tom Jackson

What arts event is a must do for every Hamiltonian? 

Several salient must-do arts events in Hamilton are Supercrawl and artcrawl and Hamilton Folk Arts and many galleries (ex. The Art Gallery of Hamilton) and live theatres (ex. Theatre Aquarius).

What do you see as an opportunity to expand arts and culture in Hamilton? 

Continued and enhanced financial support and promotion of arts and culture via the City Enrichment Fund…which I advocate via my membership on the City’s grants sub-committee this past term of council.

If elected, how will you leverage your position as a City Councillor to advance the arts in Hamilton? 

Applying to serve on the grants sub-committee and strongly advocating for additional $$ at the annual budget operating discussions and by visiting with the multitude of arts/cultural events in Hamilton and meeting with the City’s Arts Council and other leadership in place promoting arts/culture in our city and corresponding employment too.

Ward 7 (Central Mountain): Esther Pauls

No response received.

Ward 8 (West/Central Mountain): John-Paul Danko

What arts event is a must do for every Hamiltonian? 

Hamilton is fortunate to have many fabulous arts events from Supercrawl to the annual Arts Awards. However, my personal favorite way to connect with the arts in Hamilton is the Art Gallery of Hamilton. The AGH permanent collection is one of the top gallery collections in all of Canada and has global significance – yet it rarely receives the attention it deserves. I find the Canadian Collection particularly resonates with my personal interests with work by Canadian icons like Alex Colville, William Blair Bruce, Lawren Harris, Emily Carr and Norval Morrisseau. The AGH is a must for every Hamiltonian!

What do you see as an opportunity to expand arts and culture in Hamilton? 

Over the years, Hamilton’s arts scene has thrived through access to affordable studio and living space and a collaborative, engaging arts community. As the cost of commercial and residential accommodation continues to rise beyond the means of many artists it will be critical for the City to develop communities where everyone can afford to live and work. While earning a living as an artist has always been a challenge, significant new opportunities for artists and creative professionals are growing through Hamilton’s booming film industry – both directly and in spin-off industries.

If elected, how will you leverage your position as a City Councillor to advance the arts in Hamilton? 

I have been working to celebrate and promote the arts in Hamilton since I was first elected in 2018. I sit on the Board of Directors for the Art Gallery of Hamilton. I am a member of the Hamilton Arts Advisory Commission and I served on the Mayor’s Taskforce for Economic Recovery which focused on supporting the arts following COVID19. I am also a working commercial photographer with a strong insight into the challenges of earning a reasonable income as a creative professional. If re-elected I intend to continue leveraging my personal experience and my work in these areas to support Hamilton artists and their work.

Ward 9 (Heritage Stoney Creek): Brad Clark

What arts event is a must do for every Hamiltonian? 

There are two exceptional events the upcoming Art Crawl on James North and Hamilton Supercrawl

What do you see as an opportunity to expand arts and culture in Hamilton? 

Public Art displays on city facilities not only beautifies the city but it gives area artists an opportunity to display their creativity and inspire younger artists to pursue their dreams.

If elected, how will you leverage your position as a City Councillor to advance the arts in Hamilton? 

We are fortunate to have many artists, who were either born in Hamilton or came here to hone their crafts. I will commit to working with our artists, local musicians, actors and filmmakers to find the ways to promote our talented residents, to strengthen and sustain the arts community. 

Ward 10 (Lower Stoney Creek): Jeff Beattie

No response received.

Ward 11 (Glanbrook, Stoney Creek and Winona): Mark Tadeson

What arts event is a must do for every Hamiltonian? 

We are season ticket holders for Theatre Aquarius and I would encourage all Hamiltonians to get out and see a show once or twice each year.

What do you see as an opportunity to expand arts and culture in Hamilton? 

I think that the website for the Hamilton Arts Council and the ArtsyCrowd are a great opportunity to increase awareness and support for the Arts. Also I am a retired Principal with the HWDSB and I would like to share how proud I am of the Hamilton Board of Education and their promotion of the Arts through our two ‘ArtSMART’ Programs at Glendale and MacNabb Secondary Schools. It gives children with a passion for the arts an opportunity to engage, explore and craft their skills in a number of  Artistic endeavours. Also, I was a Principal at Buchanan Park Elementary School for three years. This school hosted an annual children’s Opera production for over 20 years that brought our school community a sense of pride and appreciation for the performing arts.

If elected, how will you leverage your position as a City Councillor to advance the arts in Hamilton? 

If elected, I will leverage my position to advance the Arts in Hamilton through my attendance at local events, continued support for the Hamilton Arts Council, and I will share upcoming Arts Events in my reports to my constituents.  

Ward 12 (Ancaster): Craig Cassar

What arts event is a must do for every Hamiltonian? 

There is such a range of events in our city that I would encourage people to get engaged and attend what appeals most to them as I think there are options for just about everybody. But, to land on just one, I would recommend Supercrawl, not just because of its imminence, but for the following reasons:

  • It’s free, and that means more than ever given the challenges of the past 2.5 years and the inflation we are currently experiencing
  • It brings people together so they can feel the energy of the community and connect with others
  • It’s held in an exciting part of town that offers so many shops and restaurants to explore
  • It’s easily accessible by public transportation and Hamilton Bike Share
  • The caliber of artists is top notch 

What do you see as an opportunity to expand arts and culture in Hamilton? 

To preface my answer, I will say that my perspective on this topic is being provided without yet having deep involvement in the community and without conversations with community leaders. I fully expect my views to evolve, but I offer this initial thought: 

I’ll focus on a specific area that I believe is one of the most important long-term opportunities: encouraging and developing youth to explore the arts and develop their talents in this area. Developing arts and culture requires a growing population actively participating in the sector and bringing new ideas and energy. If you allow my answer to bleed a little bit into the next question, our city needs to provide easily accessible and affordable opportunities for youth to participate and flourish in the arts. This means high-quality programs and opportunities to connect with mentors who can encourage and guide them.

If elected, how will you leverage your position as a City Councillor to advance the arts in Hamilton? 

As a musician and current supporter of the arts community, I will endeavour to advance the arts – at a minimum –  in the following ways:

  • I will lead by example and attend as many events as possible to bring profile to the arts community in ward 12 and the broader city.  With the opening of the Ancaster Memorial Arts Centre, we are well poised to begin an exciting new chapter in the evolution of our performing arts community.
  • I will commit significant time and effort to meet with and listen to the arts community. It is the vision of the leaders within this sector that the City needs to understand and support.
  • I will work with all stakeholders to find ways to provide the arts community with the space, funding, and profile required to grow successfully

Ward 13 (Dundas): Alex Wilson

What arts event is a must do for every Hamiltonian? 

I think every Hamiltonian could benefit from accessing more arts programming in our City. I’m not sure any one event is the perfect fit for everyone but I personally enjoy art crawl and local studio tours. Right now I am particularly excited about visiting the Future of Work: Letters from the Land and Water Exhibit at the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre!

What do you see as an opportunity to expand arts and culture in Hamilton? 

The climate emergency has made it clear, we need to change everything. Artists will play a vital role in our city, helping us imagine possible futures, innovate with new technologies, and help us grieve, celebrate, and process what are certain to be dynamic years for our city and the world. Working with local artists in placemaking projects is an incredible opportunity not just to re-imagine our public spaces but to help democratize them as well, by involving residents in the city building process. Placemaking projects can also help us (re)connect to the natural world and the land and the water we live with. In Ward 13, I community members have worked with students and local artists to design seed libraries for the Action 13 Dundas Seed Library Project. Other placemaking art projects from increasing public performances, to commissioning public art, to updating our signage along our trails and in our parks are all ways to imagine and create a vibrant and resilient future for our city and our communities.  

If elected, how will you leverage your position as a City Councillor to advance the arts in Hamilton? 

I believe we need to prioritize funding and support of public art and local artists. This looks like increasing funding for public art and placemaking programs. Further, Hamilton Artists Organizing, have made clear that without action to end inequality, houselessness, and poverty, artists and working people will continue to be pushed out of our city. Not only must Hamilton City Council massively expand public and affordable housing, Council should work in partnership with local studios and arts anchor institutions to include artist in residence programs in new and existing buildings, supporting local artists with housing and studio space and engaging local residents and building community through arts.

Ward 14 (West Hamilton Mountain): Mike Spadafora

No response received.

Ward 15 (Flamborough East): Ted McMeekin

What arts event is a must do for every Hamiltonian? 

What do you see as an opportunity to expand arts and culture in Hamilton? 

If elected, how will you leverage your position as a City Councillor to advance the arts in Hamilton? 

I believe that without music and the arts life is a mistake. 

There is also ample evidence that a strong art and cultural profile in a community is the best indicator of overall economic health (the Bohemian index). 

Our family has been active participants in the Hamilton theatre and dance scene. Love Supercrawl and similar events 

Am active with the Art Gallery of Hamilton – unappreciated by many but a real cultural treasure. 

Finally artists need to not only survive but thrive in our city. As a local councillor I want to stand in affirmation of our local art and cultural talent and public spaces. 

 

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