The pandemic has been devastating for the performing arts, but it hasn’t slowed down Hamilton theatre company Industry. In 2021, they paid out over $100,000 to local artists and arts workers.
World events inspired Industry towards a focus on improving the lives of local artists here in Hamilton. “We couldn’t sit still. As artists, it’s our job to react to events taking place around us,” says Industry Executive Director Matthew MacFadzean.
At a time when many theatre companies stumbled, Industry found its footing, finding new ways to help artists, reach audiences, and discuss the big issues facing our world. Since the pandemic began, Industry has produced:
• The Corona Diaries; a web series documenting the lives of artists from 7 countries during the pandemic (Canada, Australia, South Africa, South Korea, Japan, England, and Poland). This has evolved into an international co-production, Fables For a New World.
• The Garden Project; to date giving almost 30k to Hamilton-based IBPoC artists and their mentors to create new work. Co-produced with Porch Light Theatre.
• #IAmStillAnArtist; a video installation celebrating the resiliency of local artists during COVID-19, featuring 15 artists across disciplines, appearing in 8 locations across Hamilton. Co-produced with Factory Media Centre and the Art Gallery of Hamilton, with artist Mark Preston.
• Switched; Anna Chatterton‘s play transformed into a radio drama about family and identity. Co-produced with Theatre Panik.
• The Safer Spaces Project; an intersectional team of researchers and steering committee is developing a set of care-centred guiding principles (Internal Culture Guide) to ensure the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of everyone in Industry and Hamilton Fringe spaces. Coproduced with the Hamilton Fringe Festival.
Together, these projects employed over 50 artists and arts workers and paid them $106,514.15, bringing much needed income to a struggling sector.
“We knew it had been a busy year but it wasn’t until we added up all the numbers that we realized how busy,” says Industry producer Rose Hopkins.
These funds came in grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, Hamilton’s City Enrichment Fund, as well as from fundraising and donations. As audiences return to live performance, Industry sees opportunity for growth.
“Its been a hard time,” says MacFadzean, “But also exciting. It’s a time to throw away the old rules and re-imagine the role of arts organizations in society. Anything is possible.”