Revitalization

Art Bus Gets Around

By Ryan McGreal
Published June 21, 2007

The organizers of the Art Bus, a twice-monthly tour around Hamilton's various thriving art galleries and centres, were delighted when word of their endeavours made it all the way to the Big Smoke.

The Toronto Star carried a special report today on Hamilton art promoter Barbara Milne's pride and joy:

It's hard to tell who's smiling more: the proud artists and merchants showing off their wares, or the excited arts buffs touring their studios and shops.

Who would have thought there'd be such a buzz on this gritty Hamilton street on a Friday night?

Welcome aboard the Art Bus, a bright yellow school bus which is connecting art lovers to the burgeoning arts community in Steel- town.

Congratulations to Barbara, tour guide Catherine Flatt, a supportive arts community that has embraced the Bus, and the many happy patrons who have made it so successful.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 21, 2007 at 22:44:39

I think we can knock off the 'Queen Street in Toronto' references now. The last time I was there it felt like I was walking through Limeridge Mall.

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted June 22, 2007 at 10:44:30

What do you mean Mr Leach...?!! I assume you are suggesting that Queen West is 'going corporate'?

It does seem to be going that way somewhat, although there are still lots of cool little independents thriving on that strip.

There are some who think that Queen East (and King East) are going to become the new Queen West...

Of course many of the new Hamilton artists are being displaced from Toronto's once cool (and no longer affordable) art districts. Toronto's loss is Hamilton's gain.

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By w willy (registered) | Posted June 25, 2007 at 14:04:39

I agree with Rusty. There are some parts of Queen Street in Toronto that have become far less interesting as the chains move in. On the other hand, that speaks in part to the very success of creating an urban space that encourages pedestrians and the use of public space. Unlike malls, that also means that things like demonstrations, posters, and political sloganeering can co-exist and co-mingle with the corporate. But perhaps RTH should give this more thought. After all, if Hamilton's downtown really took off, more chains would come back (it is not as if there are a shortage of chain stores downtown as it is). It would seem to me that the issue is not one of railing against the chains, so much as finding a way to maintain a complex ecology of commercial, artistic, and community activities.

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By w willy (registered) | Posted June 25, 2007 at 14:04:40

I agree with Rusty. There are some parts of Queen Street in Toronto that have become far less interesting as the chains move in. On the other hand, that speaks in part to the very success of creating an urban space that encourages pedestrians and the use of public space. Unlike malls, that also means that things like demonstrations, posters, and political sloganeering can co-exist and co-mingle with the corporate. But perhaps RTH should give this more thought. After all, if Hamilton's downtown really took off, more chains would come back (it is not as if there are a shortage of chain stores downtown as it is). It would seem to me that the issue is not one of railing against the chains, so much as finding a way to maintain a complex ecology of commercial, artistic, and community activities.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 25, 2007 at 14:14:44

w willy wrote: "It would seem to me that the issue is not one of railing against the chains, so much as finding a way to maintain a complex ecology of commercial, artistic, and community activities."

I agree. Jane Jacobs wrote about this as part of _The Death and Life of Great American Cities_, arguing that it's important to maintain a mix of old and new buildings downtown so that both rich chain stores and comparatively poor independents can afford to stay in business.

As is often the case, her solution is more a broad sketch than an intricate diagram, and she leaves to the reader the exercise of discovering how to implement a given idea in a given time and place.

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