• 25th Annual Hamilton Literary Awards: Kerry Schooley Award Finalists

    December 6, 2018 by Stephen Near

    This is the third in a four part blog series showcasing the finalists of this year's 25th Annual Hamilton Literary Awards. Find out which authors will take home the prizes by attending the gala celebration on Dec. 10, 2018 at Theatre Aquarius.

    The Kerry Schooley Award is our most storied literary award at the Hamilton Arts Council. The award is named after Kerry Schooley, who was a larger-than-life, tireless promoter of both Hamilton and Hamilton writers. Each year, the Literary Awards’ Kerry Schooley Award is given to the book that is most evocative of Hamilton. Each of the four shortlisted books this year feature Hamilton (both past and present) as a vibrant and memorable character.

    No stranger to the Hamilton Literary Awards, Gary Barwin won the fiction award last year for his first novel Yiddish for Pirates. This year, his most recent poetry collection, No TV for Woodpeckers, has been nominated in two categories. Blurring “the lines between haunting and hilarious, wondrous and weird, beautiful and beastly,” No TV for Woodpeckers explores “the connection between bodies, language, culture, and the environment.” 

    Trevor Cole’s The Whisky King was called a “superb work of historical non-fiction” by the Globe and Mail. It follows the trail of Canada’s first celebrity mobster, Rocco Perri, and Canada’s first undercover Mountie, Frank Zaneth. Providing a glimpse into Hamilton’s gritty past, The Whisky King “details the fascinating rise to power of a notorious Prohibition-era Canadian crime figure twinned with the life of the man who pursued him.”

    Shortlisted for the prestigious 2018 RBC Taylor Prize for Literary Non-fiction, Yardwork asks the question, “How can you truly belong to a place?” Written by McMaster University professor Daniel Coleman, Yardwork is an exploration of his beloved garden, “a small plot of land sheltered by the Niagara Escarpment,” and the rich environment that surrounds it. 

    Anyone who has ever been in the presence of Tom Wilson knows that he is a skilled storyteller. His first book, Beautiful Scars, is no exception, bringing readers first to Hamilton’s east mountain in the middle of the 20th century. The memoir explores not only Wilson’s rise in Canadian music, but also the discovery of his long-buried Indigenous ancestry and his true identity hidden in plain sight.

    This year’s award for Fiction was sponsored by:

    The Awards take place on December 10 at 7PM. RSVP TODAY!

  • Job Opportunity: Hamilton Arts Council Executive Director

    December 5, 2018 by Olivia Dudnik

    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, December 17 at 4:30 pm.

    Please email your application to: with the subject line “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

    The Executive Director of the Hamilton Arts Council is responsible for the implementation, advocacy and communication of the vital role and importance of arts and culture in the strategic development of the City of Hamilton.  The ED will report to the Board of Directors of the HAC under its direction and will be the champion for the arts of Hamilton.

    The ED will have a strong public relations background or a solid relationship with the local media.  The ED will also be a relationship builder, one that may act as a mediator and conduit among artists, arts organizations, the business community and government. Attending events outside of regular business hours is a requirement.

    The ED is expected to have a solid foundation in non-profit finance and to be a strong fundraiser.  The ED will need to develop partnerships with arts organizations, artists, the business community and government, modeling through advocacy the value of the arts and cultural sector to the community as a whole.


    Policy Development

    • Work with the Board to develop, maintain and implement the strategic and tactical direction of the Hamilton Arts Council.

    • Achieve short, medium and long term benchmarks as they relate to our mission statement

    • Recommend potential community members for Board membership

    Communication and Advocacy

    • Meet with and engage other members of the arts community to determine needs in the community with respect to funding, advocacy, and service duplication while facilitating the building of relationships between organizations

    • Meet with and engage leaders, decision makers and the public across industries including art and cultural sector, government and business community.  Continue to create “seats at the table” for the arts and cultural sector

    • Advocate the value of the arts and cultural sector in a progressive economic and social development strategy and encourage active support and participation in the arts and cultural sector through social media, blog entries, quarterly reports to City Council and regular opinion pieces submitted to the Hamilton Spectator.

    • Be a strategic presence in the media to maintain and continue to build a public dialogue and illustrate the achievements of the arts in Hamilton

    • Speak at and attend public functions and events

    • Respond to any negative comments or concerns from the community and membership

    • Provide leadership and support the mobilization of the arts and cultural community and act a spokesperson for that community

    • Promote the role and importance of HAC

    • Facilitate program development and implementation (LivingArts Hamilton, Hamilton Arts Week, Art Bus Studio Tours, Artist-In-Residence Programs) in alignment with the HAC’s Strategic Plan.


    • Assist the Board President Director in moving towards the long term goal of becoming a funding provider

    • Hire, train, manage, evaluate and performance management of staff, student and grant-based positions, in accordance with HAC policies and provincial and federal law.

    • Facilitate monthly Board meetings, the annual general meeting and fundraising operations.

    • Prepare and monitor annual budget for Board approval with Treasurer

    • Supervise day to day financial operations including preparation of the monthly financial reports

    Funding/ Grant Writing

    • Develop and implement fund development strategy with Board and staff consultation

    • Identify fundraising, funding, grant and philanthropic opportunities

    • Supervise, write and apply for grants in a timely fashion

    • Pursue and incorporate additional revenue sources through a variety of mechanisms consistent with the mission of the organization.

    • Manage donor relations and annual donation campaigns

    • Seek and implement fee-for-service opportunities including research and consultation contracts with the City of Hamilton

    • Engage in research and development of arts sector initiatives; for example, micro-granting and affordability research


    December 3, 2018 by Stephen Near

    The Hamilton Arts Council Artist Residency Program is a 3-month rotating artist residency in The Cotton Factory. This valuable opportunity provides artists from a wide range of disciplines and career levels to build their practice. Participating artists are encouraged to use their time to experiment, develop new ideas and learn new skills in addition to forming meaningful ties with their fellow artists in residence and Cotton Factory tenants. The participating artists will be required to deliver an artist talk and open house during the final week of their residency.

    The Cotton Factory is a creative community in the heart of lower Hamilton. This former industrial building from 1900 is a prime example of adaptive reuse. It has been transformed from a cotton mill into a creative industries complex, with space for workshops, galleries, office space for creative professionals and studios for artists. The Cotton Factory continues to demonstrate, ongoing commitment to fostering emerging artist practices as well as their continued contribution to Hamilton’s flourishing contemporary art community. The studio is located on the second floor of the Storehouse Building at the Cotton Factory (270 Sherman Avenue North, Hamilton).



    Hamilton Arts Council: Artist Residency at The Cotton Factory (March - June 2019) 

    The Cotton Factory has generously donated a studio space for the Hamilton Arts Council to facilitate an artist-in-residence program. This residency program provides a valuable opportunity for artists from a wide range of disciplines and career levels to build their practice and engage with a flourishing hub of artistic activity. We are seeking applications for this rotating self directed artist-in-residence program. The dates and deadlines are listed below.

    The successful applicant will be expected to use the space a minimum of 2-3 days per week and perform an artist talk or workshop in conjunction with a culminating open studio, open to the public. Two artists will be selected for each term and are expected to share the studio space.



    Please provide the following information:

    • Letter of intent/ project proposal (500 words max)
    • Short Biography (100 words max)
    • Artist Statement (350 words max)
    • Curriculum Vitae (3 pages max)
    • 10 images (max) in JPEG format or links to youtube or vimeo files

    Results will be communicated shortly after the deadline. Due to the high volume of applications we receive, only the successful applicant will be notified. Please send applications in a single email to

    DEADLINE for SUBMISSION is: January 15th, 2019

    Please include Cotton Factory Residency Application in the subject line of your email.

    * Please note you must be a member of the Hamilton Arts Council in order to be considered for this opportunity.

    The Hamilton Arts Council Residency Program as well as the accompanying speakers series, is made possible through project from th Ontario Arts Council and The Cotton Factory.

  • 25th Annual Hamilton Literary Awards: Fiction Finalists

    December 2, 2018 by Stephen Near

    This is the third in a four part blog series showcasing the finalists of this year's 25th Annual Hamilton Literary Awards. Find out which authors will take home the prizes by attending the gala celebration on Dec. 10, 2018 at Theatre Aquarius.

    Dominated by absorbing tales of suspense, the finalists for the Hamilton Literary Award for Fiction are compelling titles that keep readers guessing until their very last chapters. Ranging from a jewellery heist to a mysterious illness threatening the lives of everyone aboard a cruise ship, each book captures audiences’ attention through memorable characters and unpredictable fast-paced plots. 

    Named one of the Best Books for Kids & Teens by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, The Disappearance by Gillian Chan is a young adult mystery centred on Jacob Mueller and Mike McCallum who find themselves living in a group home for very different reasons. Isolated and bullied, Mike is “an elective mute,” and Jacob still bears the emotional and physical scars of his brother’s murder. This gritty and gripping read takes a turn when Jacob starts to talk, and appears to have information about Jacob’s dead brother. Mike is convinced that Jacob is from another time, giving the book a supernatural — yet, somehow believable, twist.

    In Mike Knowles’ Rocks Beat Paper, the most recent whodunit in his Wilson Mystery series, a phone call brings Wilson and nine other men to a job in New York. This time, it’s a jewellery heist made up of millions of dollars in diamonds. In true Mike Knowles’ form, Rocks Beat Paper is especially memorable for an unforgettable cast of characters and non-stop action that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. 

    In 2017, the Globe and Mail named Pasha Malla’s Fugue States one of their Best Books of 2017. Of the book, critic David B. Hobbs said, "What starts as a critique of Canadian culture through the lens of a second-generation family becomes a funny, brutal and strange commentary on the relationship between power and storytelling." This thought-provoking read tells the story of Ash Dhar who “discovers a partially completed and baffling work of fiction” written by his recently deceased father that compels him to travel to his father’s homeland. 

    The fourth installment in his Dr. Zol Szabo Medical Mystery Series, Ross Pennie’s Beneath the Wake sees Zol hoping that an extended cruise on the Indian Ocean will help bring him closer to his son and girlfriend. However, the bliss of his vacation is quickly cut short when a “mysterious microbe cuts a lethal swath through the crew’s quarters” and Zol is asked to investigate before it consumes everyone on board.  

    This year’s award for Fiction was sponsored by:

    Next: the finalists for the Kerry Schooley Award

  • 25th Annual Hamilton Literary Awards: Non-Fiction Finalists

    November 30, 2018 by Stephen Near

    This is the second in a four part blog series showcasing the finalists of this year's 25th Annual Hamilton Literary Awards. Find out which authors will take home the prizes by attending the gala celebration on Dec. 10, 2018 at Theatre Aquarius.

    The finalists for this year's Non-fiction category are all examples of true and compelling tales matching that of any work of fiction. FromYardwork by Daniel Coleman, to The Abominable Mr. Seabrook by Joe Ollmann, and Beautiful Scars by Tom Wilson, these stories recount real-life with the elegance of poetry and confront readers with hidden chapters of the world around them.

    In Yardwork, author Daniel Coleman searches for what it means to set down roots and establish a home. In his efforts to intimately connect and belong to a small piece of land, Coleman recounts how the working of a small patch of garden on the edge of the Niagara Escarpment would move him to understand the ecology, landscape and history of the region around him. Starting with the creation myths and geology and then moving through the settler era up to the present, Yardwork was also shortlisted for the 2018 RBC Taylor Prize for Literary Non-fiction. Daniel Coleman is a professor of English at McMaster University has been published in numerous volumes including Goose Lane Editions, University of Toronto Press, University of Alberta Press, and Wolsak & Wynn. His most recent course teachings have included Indigeneity and Diaspora, Framing CanLit, Critical Race Studies, Reading, Spirituality, and Cultural Politics, and Documenting Place.

    In Joe Ollmann’s The Abominable Mr. Seabrook, the pro;office comic book illustrator and writer takes readers on a graphic biography of travel writer William Buehler Seabrook. Sea brook was an American hack writer and explorer who lead a daring yet destructive life. Participating in voodoo ceremonies, riding camels cross the Sahara desert, communing with cannibals and most notably, popularizing the term “zombie” in the West, Seabrook’s life was volatile and Ollmann spent seven years digging through fact and fiction. Often weaving in Seabrook’s own words and those of his biographers, Ollmann’s graphic novel presents readers with Seabrook the believer versus Seabrook the exploiter, and leaves us to question where one ends and the other begins. Joe Ollmann is the winner of the Doug Wright Award for Best Book in 2007 and loser of the same award many other times. He is the author of seven books including the graphic novels Mid-Life and Science Fiction and lives in Hamilton.

    "I'm scared and scarred but I’ve survived”. In Beautiful Scars, famed Canadian musician Tom Wilson recounts his life and upbringing in the rough-and-tumble world of Hamilton. With a rare gift for storytelling and an astonishing story to tell, Wilson takes readers on a journey filled with World War 2 vets, Steeltown factory workers, and fall-guy wrestlers, with him carving a life for himself in shadows. Over the past three decades, Wilson has profoundly influenced the Canadian music landscape as part of the rock band Junkhouse, Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, and LeE HARVeY OsMOND. But in Beautiful Scars, readers are shown a world beyond the typical rock and roll biography; where unflinching honesty and extraordinary compassion are necessary to Wilson’s ultimate search for the truth of his life. A veteran of the Canadian music scene, Wilson has been a writer and performer for years with an eclectic musical style ranging from psychobilly / R&B to western/roots to funk/blues inspired rock.

    This year's Award for Non-Fiction is sponsored by:

    Next: the finalists for Fiction