Hamilton Arts Council

Member Directory

Innovation through Stimulation: How the Arts Can Drive Economic Development
Diana Weir

The Hamilton Arts Council is pleased to launch a new monthly series on our blog featuring observations and reflections from individuals on our Board of Directors. First up this month is Diana Weir, our Board’s Vice-President, Membership Committee Chair, and Partnerships Manager with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Creative Industries sector is one of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce’s five priority points taken from last year’s Economic Summit.  Music, craft, design, visual arts, symphony and theatre are all part of the creative industries sector as are commercial ventures as film, television, radio, graphic design and entertainment distribution.

One clear message among Creative Industries is an unrelenting thirst for innovation. In fact, 2010 – 2015 Hamilton’s Economic Development Strategy is so bold as to base its entire strategy on an infrastructure to support innovation—one that encourages us to continuously learn and productively change. 

So, what do the arts have to do with innovation and economic development?

To support the innovative change that our community will thrive on, Hamilton needs to be exposed to new ideas, new practices and different ways of doing things that shift underlying assumptions and are discontinuous from previous practices.  If, as Todd Hirsch tells us, we’re “only as good as our last creative idea” then the arts and culture in Hamilton are the catalyst to that type of thought.

Steve Zades, chairman and CEO of US advertising firm LHC (now Mullen), once said, “Contemporary art is the R&D lab of the future.”  Zade grew up playing guitar and cello and later got his MBA at Columbia and worked for Procter & Gamble.  He felt it was time to make the connection between arts and economy, gain a fresh perspective through the arts and encounter new experiences that generate ideas. 

The arts challenge our ideals, present new ways of perceiving the world, show us that there is a multiplicity of answers to life’s questions and encourage us to think critically of our surroundings. 

Economic development rests on a foundation of innovation.  If we want to innovative, we have to be creative.  Creativity needs a stimulus and that stimulus is the arts.  The arts allow all Hamiltonians, including entrepreneurs, corporations, small businesses and investors, the opportunity to be bombarded by new experiences, open their minds to different ways of doing things, and share and compare ideas on life, community and society.   

As an example, the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra is shifting underlying assumptions of classical music and engaging corporate and community partners with new ways of interacting with the arts.  Radius Café on James St. S. partnered with the HPO’s young patron program, hpoGO, to bring a mini-performance to the streets.  Guests on the outdoor patio heard dogs barking and busses driving by as they enjoyed a Mozart Violin and Viola Duet by HPO musicians Cecilia Chang and Elspeth Thomson. 

There are countless other ways to inspire your creativity: attend live professional theatre at Theatre Aquarius, take in an exhibition at the Art Gallery of Hamilton or create art first hand by volunteering or taking classes at the Dundas Valley School of Art.  

It is through a combination of these activities and other business initiatives that our community will experience the kind of innovation that leads to economic growth. Communities that invest and participate in the arts will see benefits.


Stretch your Mind

Concertmaster Stephen Sitarski makes his solo debut as he performs Antonio Vivaldi’s exquisite Four Seasons, in a program featuring the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra brass in the riveting Canzonae by Giovanni Gabrieli, and climactically ending with George Frideric Handel’s magnificent Royal Fireworks Music at Hamilton Place on Saturday November 2 at 7:30.

November's Lit Live Reading Series on Sunday November 3 features lost canoes, ranches, bullets, broken china, epithalamiums, nervous cities, moon howling, and hosting from Epic Books.  Not to mention good food and drink at Homegrown Hamilton and the always warm and convivial audience.

Graeme Patterson: Secret Citadel is a major solo exhibition from this New Brunswick artist which premières at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Patterson's detailed large scale sculptures of a mountain, houses, bunk beds and more contain miniature worlds within that hint at nostalgic memories.