LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT
By the Square Foot is a project led by Cobalt Connects, a non-profit arts service organization in Hamilton, ON. Over the past 12 years Cobalt has played an instrumental role in developing studio, exhibition, and performance space throughout Hamilton for the growing creative/cultural sector. Our website is home to the most robust local online creative directory, and we've recently launched SpaceFinderHamilton - an online directory of local spaces made for creative production and expression. We love talking about and developing spaces.
These spaces, and the countless others throughout our community not developed by Cobalt, have become hubs of production and creative collaboration, points of neighbourhood pride, sites of engagement and excitement, property tax revenue generators and sales centres for culture as they provide the support layer essential to this sector. Most importantly though, these sites are spaces for artists and creative workers to develop, think, create and explore.
Over the past 10 years the creative/cultural sector in Hamilton has become a national story.
Our unique blend of ethnic communities, stunning and advantageous geography, rich history and aboriginal origins, blue-collar determination, entrepreneurial ambition, and countless other factors have led to a genuine and often-described gritty cultural scene. This has bred a mix of multidisciplinary artists, musicians in almost every genre, painters and potters abound, a constant tide of coming and going creatives, and generations of working artists. And now, a driving-force in the local economy, social fabric and sense of place that is Hamilton.
Its often understood that in any city, the benefits of an exploding cultural scene bring with it improved neighbourhoods, greater diversity, enhanced built form, an attraction to renewed public amenities, a residential development boom, adaptive re-use projects and degrees of economic prosperity. But while these elements benefit the broader community, what’s often ‘forgotten’ is that these very factors likely make the spaces that are essential to affordable, safe and engaging artist practice and accommodation scarce. We say ‘forgotten’ because it, this pricing out of cultural creators, has been a known cause and effect for decades – but seems to be overlooked when a community is in the midst of a known boom.
The By the Square Foot project is part of Cobalt’s ongoing interest in ensuring that there are safe, affordable and quality spaces made available for artistic and creative practice in Hamilton.
By the Square Foot will:
- Develop a survey for broad distribution within the community about cultural/creative sector use of space
- Interview 15 individuals connected to the local cultural space development movement
- Host an in-person event held at the Players’ Guild of Hamilton where the community will be invited to learn about the survey findings and help develop future actions
- Produce a written report for public distribution on the findings of the process highlighting opportunities for investment, cautions and concerns, and recommended actions for various organizations in Hamilton
BTSF is proudly supported by the Hamilton Community Foundation Creative Arts Fund.
In 2007 Cobalt Connects led the first formal study on Hamilton's creative sector along with CivicPlan and the Community Centre for Media Arts. The report from this study is available on our media page and is an interesting reflection on the cultural and creative sector at the time.