• Interview with Emma Rush

    July 6, 2017 by Bud Roach

    This week, Hamilton Arts Council Board member and Hammer Baroque Artistic Director Bud Roach presents the next installment of his new blog video series. This in-depth conversation features Emma Rush from Guitar Hamilton which hosts the 7th Hamilton International Guitar Festival & Competition from July 7-9, 2017.

  • Job Opportunity: Hamilton Arts Council Executive Director

    July 5, 2017 by Annette Paiement

    The Hamilton Arts Council is seeking an experienced and visionary arts administrator to lead the organization as Executive Director. The successful candidate will possess strong arts administration knowledge and report to the Hamilton Arts Council Board. A proven leader, the ED is responsible for the overall performance, impact and growth of the organization. Displaying strong financial, fundraising, administrative and project management experience, the ED will lead government relations, activities, develop and nurture strategic partnerships, and bring the strategic plan to life through incorporating the goals and objectives of the organization. Deadline for application submissions is Monday, July 31 at 4:30 pm.

    The Hamilton Arts Council has a vision to strengthen the role of the arts and culture in the City of Hamilton by making the arts accessible and relevant to the entire community. Our mission is to communicate, advocate and mediate for the arts and the role of the arts in the community of Hamilton. Founded in 1969 and incorporated in 1973, the Hamilton Arts Council is the second largest and one of the oldest community arts councils in Ontario and is an affiliate member of Artist-Run Centres & Collectives of Ontario (ARCCO).

    The Executive Director will possess strong arts administration knowledge and report to the Hamilton Arts Council Board. A proven leader, the ED is responsible for the overall performance, impact and growth of the organization. Displaying strong financial, fundraising, administrative and project management experience, the ED will be responsible for a $300,000 budget.

    As a strategic thinker, the ED will lead government relations, activities, develop and nurture strategic partnerships, and bring the strategic plan to life through incorporating the goals and objectives of the organization. Demonstrating a strong knowledge of the arts, the ED will demonstrate the highest professional ethical standards, inclusion and thoughtfulness while leading a team of staff and volunteers.

    Holding a degree in a relevant field and arts management experience, the successful candidate will have a passion for the Hamilton Arts community and the ability to manage multiple priorities simultaneously.

    To Apply:

    Attention: Hiring Committee
    Please send cover letter and resume in PDF.
    Closing Date: Monday, July 31 at 4:30 pm.
    Please email your application to: with the subject line “Attention Hiring Committee: Executive Director Application”

    Please be aware the selection process may involve any of interviews, test, and presentations or any combination thereof.

    The Hamilton Arts Council is an equal opportunity employer that is committed to inclusive, barrier-free recruitment and selection processes. Accommodations are available for all applicants with disabilities throughout the recruitment process. If you require accommodations for interviews or other meetings, please contact Interim Executive Director. We appreciate your interest, however, only those selected for an interview will be notified.

    Executive Director – Job Description PDF

  • Opera Returns to Hamilton!

    June 28, 2017 by Boris Brott

    (This is the third in a series of blog posts by the Brott Music Festival in celebration of the Festival’s 30th anniversary this year which kicks off in June.)

    Brott Music Festival has been performing staged Opera and PopOpera productions since 2004 as part of their nine-week summer festival, BrottOpera was officially founded on January 13th, 2014. The artistic mission of BrottOpera is to be the destination performing opera organization that entertains, educates and enriches Hamilton and its environs to be driven by both traditional and cutting-edge opera programming, grassroots partnerships which will stimulate new audiences and partner with other community organizations.

    Scene from Marriage of Figaro [Photo: Bob Hatcher]

    Following two successful years BrottOpera is now entering its third season. Each year has consisted of a PopOpera – an evening of favourite opera arias – as well as a fully staged opera; the past two seasons have seen performances of Rossini’s Barber of Seville and Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. This year will again include a PopOpera (July 6th) as well as a production of Bizet’s Carmen (July 13th) directed by Patrick Hansen, who is currently the Director of Opera Studies at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University in Montreal, Quebec.

    Set in Seville around the year 1830, the opera deals with the love and jealousy of Don José, who is lured away from his duty as a soldier and his beloved Micaëla by the gypsy factory-girl Carmen, whom he allows to escape from custody. He is later induced to join the smugglers with whom Carmen is associated, but is driven wild by jealousy. This comes to a head when Carmen makes clear her preference for the bull-fighter Escamillo. The last act, outside the bull-ring in Seville, brings Escamillo to the arena, accompanied by Carmen, there stabbed to death by Don José, who has been awaiting her arrival.

    Scene from Marriage of Figaro [Photo: Bob Hatcher]

    Carmen was a one-of-a-kind outlier of an opera when it was written. It shocked the French audiences with its onstage violence. It was also not an actual "opera" per se, because its form was really that of a musical: the story is told in both dialogue and in music. Formally much of it is Italian grand opera, but it is sung in French, set in Spain, and some of the music is based on Cuban dance rhythms (the Habanero, for example). Very advanced for its time! “It is the best example of "verismo" opera I can think of until Puccini comes along with La bohème or Leoncavallo's Pagliacci” says director Patrick Hansen. 

    This Carmen will be set in the 1930s Spanish Civil War - a war Franco eventually won. Carmen's story will be told through that lens of war, rebellion, the quest for freedom against oppression -- the very things that Carmen is all about! Carmen herself is 100% rebel; she fights against the status quo, she fights to be taken seriously as an individual and not just some gypsy who works in a cigarette factory, she smuggles arms for the war, she loves who she wants and when she wants. She and her gypsy friends are smugglers fighting in the resistance to overthrow the political structure in place and defend themselves against the coming Franco oppression. Oppression is everywhere in the opera. Don Jose, Morales, and Zuniga are all soldiers in the regime who simultaneously oppress the people but also want to be part of their culture (namely enjoying themselves at Lilas Pastia's place and the Bull Ring). Micaela represents the oppression that arises from the religious patriarchy -- (come home and marry a good girl, have a family, and forget everything else.) Escamillo represents the machismo oppression found throughout the culture. Carmen and her fellow gypsies represent freedom and liberty and superstition. Carmen's final outburst at the end of the opera sums it up well: she lives free and she will die free!

    Scene from Barber of Seville [Photo: Hugh Caughey]

    “As the stage director, I'll be looking for ways to show the oppression throughout the show, trying to bring out some of the more entertaining aspects of the show (to hit the tragedy at the end a little harder), and making sure the story gets told as clearly as possible. The update alters little, if anything, to the story -- it mostly changes props and weapons. Instead of swords and daggers we will use rifles, pistols and switchblades. Instead of smuggling contraband, the gypsies will be smuggling weapons. The other, oft-overlooked, aspect of Carmen is her belief in destiny and the tarot. This is integral to her belief system and I'll be striving to make it more a part of the story throughout the opera”.

    In addition to the performances, BrottOpera is a two-week program with a very heavy schedule for our emerging professional opera singers, which includes master-classes by some of opera’s top stars: tenor Richard Margison (July 4th 10am-12:30pm) and soprano Adrianne Pieczonka (July 9th 2pm-5pm). These masterclasses are free to the public and will be held at St. John the Evangelist Church (320 Charlton Ave W) in the heart of Hamilton.

    Scene from Barber of Seville [Photo: Hugh Caughey]

    “Very much looking forward to the Carmen production. We have a spectacular cast of first rate soloists chosen from 222 eager applicants. 10 of our best professional stars” says Boris Brott.  “You have a chance to get to know each of them individually singing their best chosen solo arias from different repertoire in our PopOpera program July 6 and then in their roles in Carmen July 13. Patrick Hansen is a brilliant director - we have worked together before at Opera McGill. He is imaginative and has a dramatic concept for Carmen which will delight you. Opera brings it all together - orchestra, chorus, lighting, costumes, sets, and you the audience- don’t miss it!”

  • A Missing Voice

    June 23, 2017 by Stephen Near

    This is a blog post by Tanya Pineda who is a spoken word artist living in Hamilton. As part of Tanya's Grade 13 Co-Op Student Placement, she worked with the Hamilton Arts Council as our Arts Outreach Assistant.

    During my time at my Co-op placement I learned the importance of communication not only through speech but through text and visuals. In an age where we are at our peak of communication technology, it feels like nobody is listening. This where the role of the Artist comes in a play.

    As artists we aim to be multilingual to convey messages to our audiences or transcend feelings of emotions through the cognitive walls of our mind. Consequently, our audiences love it because we feel as though someone is listening. It is always satisfying to hear someone articulate the feeling you couldn’t describe.

    Additionally, we have ways of getting our voices out there from the safety of our own handheld ”verbal bullet” proof screens. Yet with all these really important conversations going on, especially about the future of Hamilton and the artists residing here, there is something missing. I would check the lost and found box at your local high school if I were you; because you keep forgetting the 14-19 year olds who have no idea what’s going to hit them in the next eight years.

    To be fair not many of us have the clairvoyant ability to even predict what will happen in the next hour, but these kids are too big to sit at the kiddy table. You could argue that if they really wanted to know they will do research. But how do you know what questions to ask if you don’t even know what you're looking for?

    This thought came up during the Microfunding meeting held by the Hamilton Arts Council to begin the process of creating a microgrant for the artists in Hamilton. Before that meeting, I didn’t think much of grants let alone know what they really entail. During that meeting, I realized how important they are and that I will most likely end up in a position where I will have to apply for grants. Actually a lot of us will end up in that situation. But how will we know how to deal with it if we don’t even know that's something we are going to end up dealing with? I’m not trying to make this easier for us. But if you’re trying to change the future, you should include the future.

    It would be extremely beneficial if the local arts community reached out to the schools. The school board wouldn’t really be ideal to teach this kind of stuff especially since the arts is usually the most ignored department in a school system. In the same way, you need to make it known that these adolescents are welcome to the conversation, and that these conversations are happening.

    It can be as simple as making a poster and hanging it in a guidance office. Following this further, don’t exclude voices because they don’t have experience, include them so they can develop an experience. Communication isn’t just one way or the other. It is multidirectional.

  • 2017 Arts Week Round-Up

    June 23, 2017 by Rebecca Fera

    The third annual Hamilton Arts Week has come to a close, and we are so grateful to our community partners and sponsors who allowed us to successfully animate public spaces across various Hamilton neighbourhoods. A new initiative this year, the pop-up style live performances by local artists were organized in partnership with many of Hamilton’s BIAs as a way to present the arts in new and unexpected places, while expanding our reach outside the downtown core.

    Pop-up Performance by Grégoire Gagnon at the Waterdown Farmers Market

    We kicked off the week on June 3rd with a pop-up performance by classical guitarist Grégoire Gagnon at the Waterdown Farmers Market and joined old friends and new at the Carnegie Gallery for the afternoon Launch Event. Artist Ingrid Mayrhofer joined us for a participatory relief printmaking activity that pulled visitors off the busy streets of Buskerfest and into the gallery space to try their hand at traditional printmaking techniques. One participant would begin with a drawing on the block, while another would carve away at the image before handing it off to someone new to complete the process. The collaborative activity brought all ages together – with our youngest participant at only 9 years old! Throughout the afternoon, a mystifying magic performance was presented by this year’s Emerging Theatre Artist nominee Michael Kras. (Congratulations to Michael!)

    Opening Launch Event feat. playwright/performer Michael Kras

    The duration of the week also featured pop-up performances from emerging singer-songwriter Jordan Andrew, in collaboration with the King Street West BIA. Jordan is a first-year Music and Theatre Arts student at Redeemer University who wowed us with his original songs. We also had the pleasure of entertaining guests of 541 Eatery and Exchange, thanks to the introduction by our friends at the Barton Village BIA. Violinists Ailish Corbett and Madeleine Kay played for the wonderful staff and patrons of 541, and we couldn’t help but to stay for lunch and enjoy their fresh, homemade meals – leaving some buttons behind to pay it forward!

    Pop-up Performance by Jordan Andrew at King and Hess

    The final day of Arts Week was packed with pop-ups by Jacob’s Cattle, led by the well-known guitarist/tunesmith Roy Patterson at the East Kiwanis Parkette on Ottawa Street. The beautiful shaded locale was provided by the Ottawa Street BIA, and served as the perfect spot for those extra hot temperatures this week. In the afternoon, we joined the bustling Gore Park Summer Promenade to program a dance performance by Sumona Roy. Through Indian Classical and Modern Dance, Roy presented a “brief look at Canadian music and musicians that contributed to the development of Canadian culture”. Her 45-minute choreographed performance featured music from great Canadian musicians including Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and more. These iconic tunes carried through the park and visitors were drawn to the fountain to stay and enjoy.

    Indigenous artist Jay Soule, a.k.a. Chippewar

    Our closing event was hosted at the AGH Annex, and we were thrilled to be a part of their exciting Art Crawl presentation of Jay Soule, a.k.a. Chippewar. Chippewar presented the latest in his series of mock-horror film posters as a pop-up exhibition, and spoke about art, activism, and contemporary Indigenous issues.

    What does #HamArtsWeek mean to you?

    As my first official project in my new role at the Hamilton Arts Council, I am so grateful to have worked alongside our partners who are so passionate about bringing awareness to local artists and arts organizations. For me, Hamilton Arts Week was a great introduction to some of our community partners and members who support and believe in what we do here at the Arts Council. A special thank you to the Barton Village BIA, Downtown Hamilton BIA, King Street West BIA, Ottawa Street BIA, Waterdown BIA, and all the participating artists. Also to our new friends at 541 Eatery and Exchange, and old friends at the AGH Annex and Carnegie Gallery.  

    Donuts and swag help close out #HamArtsWeek

    We look forward to continuing this success next year: further broadening our reach outside the downtown core to present more activations from more arts disciplines and connecting with the community to have conversations about what matters to the arts in this great city.