• 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.

  • August Art Crawl Recap

    August 14, 2012 by Stephen Near

    Friday night I headed down to James Street North for the August Art Crawl. I absolutely love going to Art Crawls. There is a feeling of a close-knit community and the amount of energy and creativity in the air is simply infectious.

    I started out my night wandering through White Elephant. They have such cute vintage jewelry, housewares, clothes and much more, from local or international artists. You can check out their website or follow them on Twitter. Fair warning: their Twitter feed is seriously entertaining.

    Earrings at White Elephant

    Have a Ball at the Crawl


    Continuing down the street, now listening to my stomach rumbling, I go in search of food. I happened to be out with one of the pickiest eaters ever, so we passed quite a few places before settling on Jack & Lois. Settling is a poor choice of word – we stumbled upon a true gem. The service was great and friendly, even on this crazy busy evening for them with people constantly asking about tables and being directed out to the back patio. It’s definitely a place I’d go back to. Who wouldn’t with such great food!

    We continued our adventure and ended up at the Maker’s Market, one of my favourite stops of any of the crawls. We stopped at various booths, with me picking up some fun new buttons and then stopping to chat with Carla Tilt of Tilted Design. Carla makes one-of-a-kind, hand painted wearable art. You can find her and her funky shoes on Facebook &Etsy.

    Tilted Shoes


    Walking along, one of the busy bees of the Beehive Craft Collective who was working away in the window of Needlework caught my eye. She was working on the Beehive’s upcoming Modular Beauty Project. The project is a series of hexagons, made using English paper piecing, that are stitched together to form beehives. These hives will be mounted on buildings and other places along James St N for the September Supercrawl. Why beehives? Along with representing the name of the organization running the installation, it also represents Hamilton. The original Hamilton Coat of Arms, still seen on The Armoury at 200 James St N, has a beehive prominent in the middle of the design. ‘Hamilton has always been an ambitious and industrious city, with residents are who are familiar with working with their hands. We feel a connection to this aspect in particular of its manufacturing past, and wish to pay reverence by draping the street in our softer, but just as driven, methods.’ It’s not too late to get involved in this massive undertaking either; they are still collecting hexagons at 10 locations until August 31st.

    Hexagon basket


    If you were within a block of him, Gord Simmons’ gorgeous operatic voice would have had you stop in your tracks, even if only for a second to have a listen. There were so many great street performers out, I just wished I had time to stop and listen to them all.

    Gord Simmons

    One of our previous guest bloggers, Aaron Jan of Fulcrum Theatre, was also there handing out information for his upcoming shows. Antigone opens August 18th, and a double bill performance of  ‘To The Pointe’ and ‘Drafts’ opens August 16th. Both shows will be at theLyric Theatre. ‘To The Pointe’ will be preformed by To The Pointe Dance Project which was created by Alyssa Nedich. Collaborating alongside Alyssa are long time friends and dancers, Karly Dely and Carly Arnott. Their mission is to spread the passion and love of dance to youth in the Hamilton region. You can find them on Facebook and Twitter.

    On our way back up the street Mary Luciani’s artwork caught my eye. Mary is a Burlington-based acrylic painter. Mary & fellow artist Kathryn Sewell have set up at the corner of Cannon & James for the past three art crawls. I asked her what she liked about coming and setting up at art crawl. She said that, “the people here are legitimately interested in what you’re doing. They may not buy anything, but they’ll stop and say ‘that’s really awesome’ and that makes you feel really good.” You can find Mary and Kathryn on Twitter.


    Mary's Artwork

    We stopped for a late night snack at Mulberry Coffeehouse, which was seriously happening even after the crawl was done. With some good chats, and an excellent chocolate chip cookie we wrapped up our night at the August Art Crawl.

    Mulberry Sign


    Have any exciting stories from the August Art Crawl? Share them with us in the comments on this post. And can I just say that for me the countdown is on for Supercrawl!

    MacNab Terminal

    Macnab Terminal after the Crawl

    Until next time, this is your favourite summer student Casey, signing off from the HAC Offices.

    Casey Haughland is a Hamilton student, studying graphic design at Mohawk College. You can follow her on Twitter at @haughland.

  • How to Defeat The Creative Block

    August 10, 2012 by Stephen Near

    How to Defeat The Creative Block

    Posted on August 10, 2012 by Stephen Near

    “Hey Casey, why don’t you do another entry for the blog.”

    “Sure, sounds great!”

    There’s just one small problem. I seem to have all these great ideas, but as soon as I open the document to get started writing my mind goes completely blank. I’m sure this happens to a lot of people, but it is so frustrating trying to work on a project and not being able to get past that first hurdle. Enter, a being so terrifying and imperious only a brave few can take him on, The Creative Block. (This sentence is to be read in the voice of an overly dramatic Saturday morning cartoon narrator.)

    How do you get started when you can’t think of anything? Well I decided to look for some answers. My “research” (aka the first few pages of Google results) turned up quite a few interesting resources from creative minds that have written about overcoming different kinds of blocks.

    7 Types of Creative Blocks (and what to do about them)

    Overcoming Creative Block

    Creative Block – Design Ideas for When You’re out of Ideas

    I’m actually really enjoying going through and refreshing the page on Creative Block. Each time you do you get a great one-liner that will make you stop and think a little differently.

    Typographic Image of complied results from Creative Block

    Typographic Image of complied results from Creative Block

    Maybe some of these will help you through a block of your own. Looking for inspiration, changing tasks, asking for help and so many other ways that you tackle that creative block to the ground and tell him to get lost. And with that last and fatal blow, the notorious Creative Block is defeated.

    Until next time… This is your favourite (if only) summer student, signing off live from the Hamilton Arts Council Office.

    - Casey

    Casey Haughland is a Hamilton student, studying graphic design at Mohawk College. You can follow her on Twitter at @haughland.

  • Summer Posting

    August 3, 2012 by Stephen Near

    “The Hamilton Arts Council is seeking applicants for the position of Arts Outreach Assistant. This is a temporary 7-week position funded through the Canada Summer Jobs Program.”

    Do you remember this post from June? Maybe you’ve been wondering what happened?

    Well, coming to you live from the Hamilton Arts Council office is your summer student Casey, just finishing up my third week of work.

    I honestly can’t believe it’s only been three week since I walked through the doors of theSonic Unyon Records building for my first day. I was so nervous! Though the nerves melted away as the day went on, and by the time the conversation in the office turned to Lightsaber fights I knew it was going to be a good summer.

    Both Stephanie Vegh and Stephen Near have been so helpful in showing me the ropes of what the Arts Council does, and let me tell you there is a lot going on here all the time.

    I’ve gotten my hands dirty in quite a few projects so far. From creating brand guidelines for our new logo & colours, to doing extensive and sometimes exhausting research for the new edition of the Arts Directory, and all the way down to sorting & archiving the Art Beat newsletter from way back in it’s printed days. And now I guess they’ve even got me writing for the blog!

    I’m so excited to have this opportunity. There is a lot of creative freedom in this job, and I wouldn’t expect anything less with both of my superiors being creatives themselves.(Stephanie is a visual artist & Stephen is a playwright)

    I am looking forward to the next four weeks and hoping they don’t go by too fast; I still need to get a proper geek-education here, and of course learn more about our thriving arts scene.


    Casey Haughland is a Hamilton-based student studying graphic design at Mohawk College. You can follow her on Twitter at @haughland.

    Mouse Moves - August 2 Afternoon

    My mouse movements from the afternoon courtesy of I/O Graph