The NEW 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

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



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

Next Residency:

  • April – June 2018                                       Deadline:  March 2, 2018
  • July – September 2018                              Deadline:  April 6, 2018
  • November – January 2019                         Deadline:  September 7, 2018
  • [October  – Visiting Artist Residency – Estonia]

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

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

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.

  • January 2013 Theatre Arts Committee Meeting Notes

    February 14, 2013 by Stephen Near

    The Theatre Arts Committee was convened this past January by the Hamilton Arts Council as part of our mandate to promote critical dialogue in our creative community. Aside from a general discussion on how to encourage a greater sense of community with the Hamilton theatre scene and the importance of nominating local theatre artists for the upcoming City of Hamilton Arts Awards some of the specific talking points are covered below.

    The TAC was reformed last year with all of the members being theatre artists in the Hamilton region who work to advocate on behalf of theatre arts in the city. The meeting on January 14, 2014 took place at Theatre Aquarius and was attended by Trevor Copp (Tottering Biped Theatre), Ray Louter (Redeemer University College), Radha Menon (Red Betty Theatre), Luke Brown (Theatre Aquarius), Barbara Milne (The Pearl Company) and Stephen Near (Hamilton Arts Council Liaison).

    1) Theatre @ Supercrawl: The Committee discussed how the theatre community could present at Supercrawl 2013. The obstacles of how to present the diversity of Hamilton’s theatre scene amidst a bustling music and visual arts event were also discussed. It was suggested that the community might collaborate together to create a pictorial collage of “moments” from the past year of Hamilton theatre. This might be punctuated by sound bites, video-clips, etc. to create an interactive, multimedia, installation about theatre work and artists in the city. The goal would be to paint a picture about what stories have been told on Hamilton stages in the past year. The Committee also discussed encouraging the use of the Twitter hashtag #hamonttheatre.

    2) Media Coverage for Theatre: The Committee talked about how to better market and promote upcoming productions more to the media in the city. There are concerns about the coverage of theatre by both the Spectator and the View as well as by CBC Hamilton. The Committee discussed the idea of encouraging more widespread use of blogs and to building relationships with local theatre critics and arts reporters to improve coverage of theatre artists.

    3) Upcoming Theatre Events and Productions: The Committee summarized some of the events and productions coming up for them or their companies. Tottering Biped is staging a new work at Theatre Aquarius called First Dance which is in the midst of a tour of southern Ontario universities. Red Betty in partnership with Hamilton Festival Theatre is producing her new show The Circus at the Lyric Theatre also involving Lori Le Mare‘s aerial performance troupe. Barbara reported that the Pearl Company was holding the 1st Annual Winter Theatre Festival featuring plays by Bob Wiseman, Krista McNaughton and playwright Bruce Gooch. Ray reported that Redeemer is doing South Pacific. Luke reported that Aquarius is staging Last Romance with Jamie Farr and is in the midst of planning a series of training workshops open to Hamilton theatre artists.

    4) Hamilton Arts Council news:  Stephen reported that the Hamilton Arts Council will be significantly revamping their website to allow for greater interactivity bu users and members. He gathered feedback from the members of the TAC as to what they would like to see on the site. Stephen also talked about the Annual Theatre Guide and reported on both the positive comments and the critical feedback received from the community. The HAC is planning on releasing a new Guide for 2013-14.

    5) Project Funding: The Committee discussed the issue of Hamilton artists getting theatre project funding. They discussed the recent initiative by the City of Hamilton Arts Advisory Commission and the Arts Funding Task Force to address the issue of municipal level arts funding. The Committee discussed the deficit of project funding from the OAC towards artists in Hamilton. Much of the funding seems to be going to artists in Toronto. The Committee raised the prospect of Hamilton theatre artists communicating to the OAC about the growth of the arts community in the city and opening a dialogue about how to improve the prospect of funding from the province.

    6) Canadian Plays and Playwrights: Stephen mentioned that he is in talks with thePlaywrights Guild of Canada and local Guild member playwrights on how to get more new Canadian plays by local playwrights produced by community theatre companies in Hamilton.

  • A new Approach to Arts Investment in Hamilton

    February 1, 2013 by Stephen Near

    On the evening of January 28th, inside a packed room of artists and cultural figures from across Hamilton, The City of Hamilton’s Arts Advisory Commission (AAC) and the Arts Funding Task Force (AFTF) presented a new set of proposed arts funding initiatives. These proposed changes would see a dramatic change in the way that funds are distributed into the arts and cultural sector. The arts community have known about this meeting for a while now and everybody in the room shares the opinion that not enough is being done to support and cultivate the arts sector in Hamilton. But the Task Force promised some terrific ideas on how to change all of that.

    As the lights dimmed, both Anna Bradford and Councillor Jason Farr took to the stage and made it clear that the City of Hamilton sees the importance of supporting the arts and understands that a strong arts scene leads to a healthy and vibrant community. Next to the stage was the Chair of the Arts Advisory Commission, Tricia LeClair, who outlined the evening's agenda which included a crucial community feedback and discussion component. She then outlined some statistics about the arts and their importance in the community. It turns out that 95% of Ontarians not only feel that the arts enrich their lives but they also believe that the success of Canadian artists gives citizens a sense of pride in Canadian achievement. This last point was an interesting insight especially to me. Since moving to Hamilton over two years ago I've noticed one important thing about Hamiltonians and, specifically, the artists of this city: they have a very passionate sense of pride in themselves and the quality and character of this city.

    Tricia also pointed out that 89% of Ontarians believe that if their community lost its arts activities the people living there would lose something of value and 81% believe that the government should spend public dollars on funding the arts. She clarified the challenges facing Hamilton with regards to funding the arts. As many know, arts funding is generally low in this city and significant gaps exist in the structure of how the funding is distributed. Clearly, the current programs--which include the Community Partnership Program and the Boards & Agencies Budget Stream--do not effectively meet the needs of Hamilton's growing arts and culture sector.

    The goals for the Arts Funding Task Force, in this regard, were fivefold: cultivate artistic creation and dissemination; provide stable operations support; encourage emerging and established projects; build capacity and sustainability; and foster entrepreneurship. Speaking to these points was Tim Potocic, founder of Sonic Unyon Records, Board member of the Hamilton Arts Council, and the newest recipient of the Distinguished Citizen of the Year Award.

    Tim set the tone for the news to come by pulling out a camera and taking a picture of the packed room in front of him. Tim's been at the forefront of many arts initiatives in the city with the most notable being the Supercrawl festival which last year pulled in over 80,000 participants to the downtown core. So it was fitting that he was the one laying out the details of eight new and upgraded arts investment initiatives proposed by the Task Force.

    First of all, there is the Created in Hamilton initiative. This is a new program that would represent a total investment of $150,000 to be disseminated across Hamilton in the form of grants to individual artists focusing on project creation. For me, this was very welcome news as so many artists in Hamilton have made it clear they want to see individual project grants available to them at the municipal level. Many other Canadian cities have such grants and Hamilton's lack of such project funding has been a deficit in my view.

    The second proposal represents Innovation Grants for a total investment of $100,000. Also a new program, this initiative would specifically go to support inventive approaches and special projects in the creation of new work. Although I am a strong advocate of art that is ground-breaking, I did feel the details of this particular initiative needed to be better defined. The Task Force agreed and advised that the community feedback and discussion component would hopefully address some the broad strokes of this proposal.

    The third proposal was to Arts Festivals and Events for a total investment of $350,000. This would essentially be operating grants for major festivals in the city as well as project grants for established and emerging arts and culture events. Although this wouldn't be a new program per se, Tim specified that it represented a significant revision to the city's existing funding for such events via the Community Partnership Program and Boards & Agencies.

    The fourth proposed investment would encompass Arts Grants for Established & Emerging Organizations. Representing a total amount of $2 million, these grants would help fund the operating costs of arts organizations but might also encompass project grants for non-arts organizations. I understood that this initiative would essentially replace existing Community Partnership Program funding as well as the Boards & Agencies funding with the new model.

    Next in the presentation was another new program called Business Development Services for Arts Entrepreneurs. Meant to emphasize the building of start-ups in the arts and culture sector, this new initiative would invest $50,000 in services to encourage and sustain entrepreneurship in the arts in Hamilton. On seeing this, I was reminded of one of the first conversations I had with Jeremy Frieburger (link Cobalt) where he told me that one the most important characteristics of those in the Hamilton arts community is their entrepreneurial spirit.

    The sixth proposal was another new program designated towards Capacity Building Grants for Arts Organizations. Representing an investment of $75,000, the program would help organizations build capacity and meet sustainability challenges. This was another initiative that spoke to me as I have seen so many arts groups face immense challenges in the area of operations and sustainability particularly small theatre companies and galleries trying to get off the ground.

    The seventh proposal was the Capital Maintenance and Equipment Fund. Representing a total investment of $200,000, this program would be a series of grants to assist arts organizations maintain and meet their equipment needs. It's another proposed new program and an initiative that would really be useful to companies across the board. Conceivably, such grants might allow theatre companies to upgrade their lighting grids and galleries to invest in new media equipment.

    Finally, the eighth proposal is a Capital Facility Development Fund. During the presentation, Tim specified that the investment amount has yet to be determined since it would work as a group of affordable loans and incentive programs to assist with facility acquisition and development. Although vague in the details, this proposal has the potential to be a real game changer in terms of allowing organizations and investors to acquire and redevelop spaces in the city into new centres of arts and culture creation.

    The reaction from the assembled crowd ranged from scattered cheers and applause to hushed whispers as people feverishly wrote and compared notes. The proposals put forth represent a fundamental shift in the way that arts funding would be delivered to the city and, even more so, an increase from years past. Overall, the recommendations outline an increase in existing arts and culture funding by $1,026,436 for a total of just over $3 million.

    Next up was the Chair of the Task Force, Kristine Germann, who outlined how these recommendations represent a six-point plan to City Council. This would involve 1)adopting the model at Council, 2) securing the funding and sources for the programs, 3)ensuring that adequate transparency and accountability is in-place, 4) properly administering the implementation and oversight by Culture and Tourism Division, 5)determining effective means for reporting on the success of the programs, and finally 6)creating an overall cohesive program.

    The evening culminated with a series of round table public participation sessions focusing on four key points of clarification: topics that the Task Force felt needed further development. These topics were: Peer & Jury ReviewEncouraging Innovation & Novel ApproachesDetermining Success, and Advisory Services. For me, this part of the evening was the most exciting. It allowed me an opportunity to sit down at a variety of tables with artists from all across Hamilton and brainstorm ideas about what I'd just heard. And, at every table, there was a facilitator who guided us through a series of questions to help focus the discussion.

    I ended up participating at the Peer & Jury Review table and the Encouraging Innovation & Novel Approaches table. Ideas were thrown back and forth and there was a real sense that the arts community was truly excited to be so deeply involved in helping to shape a policy model that could shape the future of arts funding in Hamilton for years to come.

    The evening wrapped up but I felt like I could've stayed a lot longer. The feeling of optimism, of a change in the air, was palpable and I was left with a very charged sense of things to come. There are still many details left to iron out and, of course, these proposals will need to be passed by City Council. But the blueprint is now in place and it is an encouraging sign that the vibrant arts community of Hamilton had a direct hand in drafting it.



  • November Literary Arts Committee Meeting Notes

    January 22, 2013 by Stephen Near

    The Literary Arts Committee was convened last November by the Hamilton Arts Council as part of our renewed mandate to promote critical dialogue in our creative community.

    The LAC is the longest running Committee associated with the Hamilton Arts Council and all of the members are published authors or publishers in the Hamilton region who work to advocate on behalf of the literary arts in the city. The meeting on November 28, 2012 was attended by Susan Evans ShawMary AndersonNoelle Allen (Wolzak & Wynn),Claire MeldrumWilma Seville and Stephen Near (Hamilton Arts Council Liaison).

    1) Lit Live 2012-13: The Committee discussed the Lit Live Festival and reported that Gary Barwin has also agreed to sit on the Lit Live Committee and will be taking a hand in maintaining the blog along with Chris Pannell. The Committee also discussed funding matters regarding Lit Live including the upcoming Ontario Arts Council grant deadline. The Lit Live Reading Series is a monthly event that takes place on the 1st Sunday evening of every month and is held at Homegrown Hamilton.

    2) 20th Annual Hamilton Literary Awards: The Committee first reviewed the success of the 19th Annual Hamilton Literary Awards (Held in November 2012) and discussed some ways in which the Awards could be better administered and organized for next year. The Committee also discussed the future format of the Annual Hamilton Literary Awards which will feature four Awards in the following categories: POETRY – Book, NON-FICTION – Book, FICTION – Book and the *new* category of the Book that best epitomizes the spirit or essence of the city of Hamilton. A variety of ideas for what to call the Award were suggested and discussed by the members of the Committee with a final decision being made in January. The Committee also discussed how they can be more involved in administering the Awards including contacting prospective adjudicators and assisting the HAC in gaining sponsors for the Awards. The Committee is very enthusiastic about continuing to move forward with the Lit Awards and the streamlining of the Awards from seven to four categories will allow the HAC to develop more press and advertising by possibly releasing a short-list in advance of the awards ceremony in November. .

    3) New Committee Membership: Several members of the LAC have already stepped away from the Committee and so the members briefly discussed prospective candidates. Several notable individuals in the Hamilton literary scene were mentioned as possible candidates and some members have volunteered to ask these individuals.

    4) Niagara Literary Arts Festival: The Committee briefly discussed the possibility of collaborating with the planners of the Niagara Literary Arts Festival. Bringing the Festival into Hamilton for June 2013 might be a possibility especially if it could be done in collaboration with Open Streets Hamilton.

  • Sept Literary Arts Committee Meeting Notes

    October 26, 2012 by Stephen Near

    The Literary Arts Committee was convened this past September by the Hamilton Arts Council as part of our renewed mandate to promote critical dialogue in our creative community.

    The LAC is the longest running Committee associated with the Hamilton Arts Council and all of the members are published authors or publishers in the Hamilton region who work to advocate on behalf of the literary arts in the city. The meeting on September 26, 2012 was attended by Susan Evans ShawGeorge DownMary AndersonNoelle Allen(Wolzak & Wynn), Wilma Seville and Stephen Near (Hamilton Arts Council Liaison).

    1) Lit Live 2012-13: The Committee discussed the Lit Live Festival and how it will be funded in the coming year. Susan, who sits on the Lit Live Committee, reported that funding for the Festival looks to be improved over last year and that was good news. She has also booked a consistent schedule of both authors for the readings and MCs to introduce the evenings. The Lit Live Reading Series is a monthly event that takes place on the 1st Sunday evening of every month and is held at Homegrown Hamilton.

    2) 19th Annual Hamilton Literary Awards: The Committee discussed, at length, the future format of the Annual Hamilton Literary Awards. This Awards event is coming up in November and will feature a number of awards presented to Hamilton-based writers for their published work. The nominated categories for the Awards are: POETRY – Individual Poem, FICTION – Short Story, NON-FICTION – Short Article, YOUNG ADULT/CHILDRENS – Book, POETRY – Book, NON-FICTION – Book and  FICTION – Book. The Committee discussed the merits and challenges of having an city literary awards event with 7 categories as opposed to one or two categories. The Committee ultimately decided to look at alternative formats for the Hamilton Literary Awards that would feature fewer categories but offer more distinction and prestige as well greater prize amounts. This issue will be discussed further in the months ahead by the Committee members.

    3) New Committee Membership: Several members of the long-standing LAC are going to be stepping away from the Committee and so the members briefly discussed prospective candidates. Several notable individuals in the Hamilton literary scene were mentioned as possible candidates and some Committee members have volunteered to ask these individuals.

    4) Culture Days 2012: The Committee discussed the Culture Days 2012 events in Hamilton with a specific eye on those events that fell into the literary sphere. Although there were over 40+ events taking place in the city, the Committee admitted that the proximity of Culture Days to Supercrawl does seem to present some programming and funding issues for arts groups in Hamilton.

    5) Niagara Literary Arts Festival: The Committee briefly discussed the possibility of collaborating with the planners of the Niagara Literary Arts Festival. Bringing the Festival into Hamilton next June might be a possibility and some on the Committee wondered if it might be possible tie such a collaboration with Open Streets Hamilton.

  • Summer Wrap-up

    August 31, 2012 by Stephen Near

    Seven weeks ago, as I walked into the HAC office for the first time, I honestly had no idea what to expect of my summer position. What exactly was I walking into?

    To put it simply I was walking into a summer job. To be honest I was walking into a lot more. This has been more than a job for me. It has been such a great learning experience in both realms of my life, professional and personal. The team here at HAC is so passionate about the arts because they are artists themselves. With Stephanie a visual artist ( and Stephen as a playwright (his play Dark Matter will be on stage at TA2 in May) they are both invested in the arts thriving in this city. There were many conversations about different arts events in the community.

    I’ve had an amazing summer of learning and opportunity. I’ve gotten to work on many different projects & become immersed in the arts community. I’ve also gotten a proper geek-education.

    I want to thank Stephen & Stephanie for being as amazing as they have been all summer. I knew from my first day that I would fit in well with the dynamics of the office and it has been a blast!

    Signing off live from the Hamilton Arts Council office, your favourite summer student Casey.