Revitalization

City Plans a Creative Catalyst

By Jason Leach
Published January 19, 2010

A fabulous report has just been released recommending a Creative Catalyst Project (PDF link) be built in downtown Hamilton.

The Consultants [to the project] concluded that a catalyst is not only feasible, but is a tremendous opportunity for Hamilton. The study recommends that the creative sector, particularly Hamilton's music industry, be harnessed and catalyzed as a means to grow Hamilton's economy, re-activate the downtown area, improve the physical condition of buildings and neighbourhoods, and build pride in the community.

A creative catalyst would occupy a large, iconic building (or buildings in a precinct) downtown with an educational or cultural institution as an anchor. This facility could also house a contemporary multi-purpose performance/rehearsal space, offices, studios, retail and hospitality uses. Tenants could include established or new businesses defined as creative industries (e.g. music creation, promotion, distribution, film production) or any business that would benefit from co-locating with creative people and businesses, and new enterprises (e.g. graphic design, news media, computer programming).

The building and the programming within it would be designed to encourage interaction amongst the tenants, with the street and the surrounding community.

The report is long, but is a great read. Of particular note, the comparison between Hamilton, Austin, Glasgow and Halifax is really interesting and builds on one of the themes that we have been promoting at RTH for years - Hamilton as a creative city.

Another highlight is the research showing that the lower city, particularly Wards 1, 2 and 3, house the majority of our cultural facilities and industries with the immediate downtown core being the big winner.

Finally, I absolutely love the attention being paid to Hamilton's music scene. We have a tremendous music scene and could very well become a hotbed of live music in a similar vein to Austin with a little more networking and promotion.

The Creative Catalyst project would do wonders for downtown Hamilton and with the recommendation that the Imperial Cotton Centre for the Arts be involved, you can be sure that it will be developed properly and will be a great success.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.

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By realitychack (anonymous) | Posted January 19, 2010 at 09:01:58

I personally would like to see this housed in the vacant Royal Connaught. It certainly fits the bill as an iconic downtown building. It can house just about all the amenities being sought after, and it would be an excellent way to repurpose this building.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted January 19, 2010 at 09:29:17

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 19, 2010 at 09:35:54

The Connaught would be a good choice, although I'd like to see the city buy the building outright and not get into any more insane lease deals with the owners.

I even wonder if the Right House would work, but it's probably too small (it's being emptied out so it's tenants can move into Lister - a nice thank you to the Aragon Group for keeping it in beautiful condition all these years).

Perhaps the Eaton Centre would work? It's a crappy building and will be downright disgusting once the city moves back to city hall (which can't come soon enough). It's huge and right on James St. Imagine it renovated and opened up to the street on York and James??

Comment edited by jason on 2010-01-19 08:38:47

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By meredith (registered) - website | Posted January 19, 2010 at 15:16:52

I like the idea of the Eaton Centre.... but someone on SSP Hamilton had mentioned the School Board building - which has the added advantage of being visible from the outside when people are coming by from farther away and not just in the immediate area. (also better visibility for Copps visitors/Pan Am visitors/those future LRT users ;))

Either one would be great, but I imagine the redevelopment of the School Board building would be even better in terms of visibility and image for the city.

Comment edited by meredith on 2010-01-19 14:18:30

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted January 19, 2010 at 15:29:50

The School Board Building and Eaton Centre would both be great locations, but I think the Eaton Centre edges out the SBB because of its proximity to the existing James N. "art cluster".

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted January 19, 2010 at 15:31:05

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted January 19, 2010 at 17:29:11

Capitalist > "Jason, who is going to pay for this????" Capitalist > "I would love an answer from you Jason as to where the money for this pie-in-the-sky idea will be coming from?"

Taxpayers. The same taxpayers who spent over $200 million on the Red Hill. Did you oppose that project?


I'd suggest the old Cannon Knitting Mills as a good potential site for this kind of redevelopment. Mind you, I live quite close to it, so I have a conflict of interest.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted January 19, 2010 at 18:22:32

As long as those knitting mills get turned into condos, I'd hope for one of the other two locations :)

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By Skeptic (anonymous) | Posted January 19, 2010 at 20:46:25

Keep your eye on this ball: The Imperial Cotton Center has been designated as the agency to run this. Talk about sole sourcing suggestions by a consultant who has probable relationships with the Arts community...whose ox is being Gored here, pardon the pun and for whose benefit...surely if this plan goes ahead there should be a competition to see who should run it! Or is the fix in?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted January 19, 2010 at 21:47:55

Talk about sole sourcing suggestions by a consultant who has probable relationships with the Arts community...

I'm guessing the ICCA has been fingered to run this because the whole thing was his. f*cking. idea.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted January 19, 2010 at 21:49:25

...probable relationships with the Arts community...

and thanks for my laugh of the evening.

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By Imperial (anonymous) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 08:44:26

Hi Folks
Jeremy from the ICCA here.

So to answer a few questions:

(1) who would pay for this?
To date the ICCA has worked for two years on this project for the grand total of $0.00 from the tax paying public. Two private donors did invest $60,000 in our early research - so that cost you nothing. For the past year we've been working with a team of consultants that the City selected through an open RFP process. They did tons of work and have an incredible reputation. So no fix there.

As for further stages - yes we would expect the City, Province and Feds to play a financial role but by no measn should they foot the full bill. All of the properities the ICCA is involved in include some form of private investment - I would expect the same in this case. So the Spec articles that state this will cost the City $21M are way off. In the end we'd ideally see the City earning money back from this project.

(2) who would run this thing?

Highwater was quite right in that this idea came from the ICCA - so we are going to assert some leadership here. When you have a great idea and champion it through the labyrinth of city hall you can run a project too. That said we would not run the entire project.

The education component would be run by whichever group stepped up to the: Mohawk, McMaster, NSCAD, etc.

The venue would likely go to open tender or to a partner that steps up and accepts the financial obligation of building that component of the project - again, if you put in you get to take out.

The ICCA would focus on managing the studios, incubator project (as a growth target for our new Cossart Exchange program), and the community interaction component of the facility.


Long story short. We're still in the "sort out some key details" stage of this project. If you want tog et involved in some way it's no secret how to get a hold of me.

Jeremy Freiburger
Imperial Cotton Centre for the Arts
905-548-0111

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 08:55:27

thanks for that info Jeremy. Trust me, you don't need to convince anyone that tax dollars spent on this project will be money well spent and will end up spurring investment that will create a whole lot more wealth for the city, private businesses in the area and the taxpayers. There's still a group of people in this city who believe tax money should only be spent on their cars. The rest of us are thrilled with the potential economic development that will be generated by this creative catalyst and understand the value that jobs, money, rehabilitated buildings, and new civic pride will have on this town. We waste a ton of tax money in this city with no investment or EcDev in return.
This project will be a rare occurrence where our investment brings a great return. Keep up the great work.

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By Tammany (anonymous) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 09:11:36

"There's still a group of people in this city who believe tax money should only be spent on their cars."

... or sewage treatment plants.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 09:54:33

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By highwater (registered) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 10:59:03

The education component would be run by whichever group stepped up to the: Mohawk, McMaster, NSCAD, etc.

Any chance of an industrial design focus?

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 11:27:37

What a world it would be if there was no art and no music.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 13:16:45

Capitalist, I asked whether you opposed spending over ten times as much money on the Red Hill as the city proposes to spend on this new project. Do you have an answer?

If you did oppose the Red Hill, I'll give you props for consistency. If you supported the Red Hill, I'd like to know why I as a resident of downtown Hamilton should be expected to pay taxes towards that project while you object to paying taxes towards this one.

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By Wake up Hammyland (anonymous) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 13:37:45

Arts and culture are an essential component of a thriving and sustainable
city. I'm sure the business community can see value in it because it strategically connects cultural development to economic development. If you actually read the feasability study for the Catalyst Project, you would see the value in this ambitious endevour. It's estimated there are about 3,000 businesses and organizations in the creative sector here in Hamilton, and the industry is pegged to generate $260 million a year. It appears Economic Development committee Chairperson Councillor Lloyd Ferguson will be a major hurdle as he is very well known to NOT support the arts here in Hamilton. Today, if you were a city that USED to make things, manufacture things, and no longer does... and you do NOT invest heavily in the creative arts sector, you are a dead city. There are countless cities that know this -- and countless cities that have revived themselves from post industrial collapse. Glasgow Scotland, Pittsburgh, Austin Tex, Halifax, Portland, the list really goes on and on... Creative arts in these regions have proven to help sculpt their local economy for the 21st century.

In order for the true creative capacity of our City and region to be realized, a dedicated, stable funding mechanism for local arts and culture and arts education
must be created. Additionally, this pursuit of dedicated funding is only possible with the continued diligence, coordination, and organization of a historically fragmented arts and culture community.

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By Imperial (anonymous) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 13:48:57

Hi Again Folks

Jeremy from the ICCA again.

There are so many things I'd like to say right now but I've been learning over the course of this project to say things that are productive - not just gut instinct which tends to be the way on blogs where no one has to actually stand up to their opinions.

To the comments about "unemployed artists" and such - I simply wave my hand. I'll never be worried about convincing folks with such a limited perspective that our industry is strong and teaming with very well-employed people. Almost 10,000 of us in Hamilton actually.

To those who wish they had their say in the process. We had multiple public engagement sessions, interviewed dozens of artists and creative businesses, spoke with many major cultural institutions, etc throughout the process. We've maintained a Facebook group about the project, advertised the info sessions in the Spec and View, sent out flyers and hundreds upon hundreds of emails to invite the creative cluster to get engaged. We literally created the database of creative industry businesses/organizations for the City so they would know you exist. So I know we've reached out.

All that said we will need to continue this effort for the duration of the project to ensure your voice is part of this development. In all of the projects we've looked at around the world of similar scope this, coupled with the financial complexity of these projects, has been the most difficult. Finding community consensus - especially in Hamilton - is very difficult. Regardless, we are seeking it and welcome it.

On the financial front these projects are probably the most difficult kind of development there is. It's not cut and dry like condos or an apartment complex. It's not like building a university campus where they know they have Ministry funds and simply need to call the appropriate DeGroote to make it happen (not that they're that simple either), it's not just throw your name in the hat for affordable housing money - ITS ALL OF THOSE THINGS COMBINED. Many projects of this nature include 20+ sources of funding - private, public, venture, donors, sponsors, etc.

To truly understand the nature of this project I'll send you to a pretty website.
Take a look at this project : http://www.woodwardsdistrict.com/

To hold off the naysayers right off the bat - I know we're not the lower east-side of Vancouver, our project doesn't currently incorporate housing (but I wouldn't be surprised to see it enter the story at some point), etc. But the complexity and desire for an inclusive and creative environment is much the same.

This is going to take time and patience folks. If you have something tangible and logical to present I've posted my phone number and email address below so we can talk as real humans, with names and such. If all you want to do is post anonymously on a blog...well I guess you can do that all ya like.

Jeremy
905-548-0111
jeremy@imoperialcottoncentre.com

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By Supporter (anonymous) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 13:56:06

Congratulations!!!!

This is to Jeremy, The ICCA, the Economic Development folks who have been on board with this initiative:

Lots of hard work, great vision and faith in our City and it's future have brought about an exciting project!

May you keep your spirits and energy up for the challenges and work ahead!

I am glad we have dedicated folk who put their minds to our future...and who actually do something...

Congratulations to you and to us all!

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By Wake up Hammyland (anonymous) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 14:28:38

http://www.woodwardsdistrict.com/

Thanks for that link Jeremy. I encourage folks to look at it.

Yes, congratulations for a successful presentation. You WOWED them at the Economic Development meeting yesterday. You and your teams dedication and all your hard work speak loudly. I'm curious to know the results of today's meeting -- and hoping you'll post them here and/or on FB.

Zafer.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 14:58:07

@John Neary

I strongly supported the RHVP because it eased traffic conjestion in east Hamilton and is leading to greater commercial/industrial assessment (generating jobs and property tax revenue) on the east end and mountain. Most Hamiltonians supported this project. Larry DiIanni's defeat of David Christofferson for mayor in 04 was largely a vote on the RHVP.

As I mentioned in a previous post, dt Hamilton already has the AGH, the public library, numerous gallaries, live music venues, Copps Col., ballet, Hamilton place, theatre aquarius, etc. etc.

Yet despite all this the dt has been in decline for 30 years and struggles to attract private sector investment. What makes you think that spending more tax dollars in this area would change the situation? Especially since Hamilton has serious infrastructure issues and the Pan Am games to fund. (I would also point out that Hamilton has one of the highest residential tax to income ratios in Canada).

These Richard Florida pie-in-the-sky economic development ideas only lead to bankruptcy.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 15:44:13

Just exactly what are all these jobs are you talking about, can you please provide a list of all these employers. If the RHVP has created so many job opportunites, then why are so many in this city struggling to find work.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 16:24:55

@grassroots

Why don't you read this pdf about what is happening on the east mountain thanks to the RHVP.

http://www.investinhamilton.ca/images/stories/pdf/SpectJan8-10.pdf

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 16:52:36

Capitalist: The way you were talking, I thought you would have a long list. I have already read that article. So what else have you got.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 16:55:38

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 17:01:43

Jason: You made me laugh, good one though.

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By woody10 (registered) | Posted January 20, 2010 at 23:28:09

It was hard up-voting and down-voting the posts for this one. I do believe that any investment in this city is to be looked at as positive. This includes the RHVP. I believe that it has and will continue to be advantages to both development and investment, not to mention a convenience for those of us who travel the length of the city regularly when we can't ride our bikes. Also, the PAn-Am games. Future facilities for generations.

The arts in this city is actually quite large and distinguished. Ii had no idea until my girls started growing up and getting involved in ALL aspects, from theatre groups, graphic arts to Dance and vocals. You literally can't go more than two blocks and not see some sort of studio, theatre, school or.... We could also get some of the private schools on board like the HCA or DVSA (if they aren't already) They have been around for awhile and probably could help with many areas of the project. Children can be the key to the initial aspect, parents involve there children and then hang about and spend money in the local shops etc. I might be a bit off on the true nature of the project but I'm assuming all arts are important to the project.

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted January 20, 2010 at 23:58:55

Hello Jeremy,

I just started reading the ‘Catalyst Report’ and some of the comments above - and will most certainly share my thoughts on all of this with you here as soon as I finish reading this.

In the meantime for ‘Creative’ coincidences such as below to have occurred not once but twice – this does bode well for downtown, don’t you think?


http://www.raisethehammer.org/blog/1622#comment-37171

January 20, 2010 / re: woodwardsdistrict.com

http://raisethehammer.org/blog/1503#comment-33361

September 10, 2009 / re: woodwardsdistrict.com

http://www.thespec.com/News/Business/article/656041

October 19, 2009 -- re: "Cossart Exchange"

http://hallmarks.thespec.com/2008/07/lister-math.html

July 14, 2008 -- re: "Quantum Math" - 12th Post from top.


You do realize that, if this Catalyst report does develop into the kind of project that you have visualized – it would be the beginning of a very long journey for you before things start to get operationally sustainable, and the anticipated spill-over starts to accrue for downtown. (see: http://www.boston.com/ae/theater_arts/ar... )

Cheers and best wishes in your endeavors!

Mahesh P. Butani http://metrohamilton.ning.com/

(Note: edited on request to fix formatting)

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2010-01-21 07:16:13

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By Imperial (anonymous) | Posted January 21, 2010 at 09:17:07

Hi Mahesh and Woody10

This is most certainly a long-term vision Mahesh. I don't expect the doors to open on such a facility overnight. I would love to say our target is that we'd be open to the public in time to play a significant role in the Pan Am Games activity - to help ensure that the creative community is a focal opint for that blip on timeline as a City (a very important blip mind you). It will take years to raise the funds, find the core tenants, renovate and envision the actual building project, etc. I'm in this for the long haul so long as there is community support.

With regards to the report. Having spoken with a number of key people about the report there are a few inherent issues that jump out.

(1) how have we determined economic impact without stating which building we're basing this on? The steering committee for the project has the site selection narrowed to 3 key locations. Unfortuntely they are all privately owned so it would have been foolish for us to say "the addresses are:...." as this would triple the price of those buildings. So since we know the preferred sites we've based our modeling on those locations. So the numbers aren't completely "pie in the sky" as some suggest, but they are hypothetical based on assumptions of purchase prices and such. Nonetheless they were created by a man (Barry Lyons) who knows buildings inside out and backwards.

(2) why haven't we got any tenants to show off?

We've spoken to dozens of key potential tenants and loads of little ones. But here's the trick. Would you publicly state that you're moving to into this project without me being able to tell you (a) price per square foot, (b) location, (c) renovation costs, (d)who the other players are? Of course not. so we're in a sitatuation where we need to find the mechanism that will enable us to secure one location from our list. From there out we can very quickly determine the costs and factors associated with the project and begin working with tenants.

We have some really incredible conversations going on. In Hamilton and beyond. Again I'm forced into a tough situation where I can't name names - we don't want to jeopardize realtionships for those potential partners by outing them - so we keep it tight and wait for the right moment. Some people feel this is me either (1) being a competitive jerk or (2) a liar. Call me what you like - I'm doing whats best for this project. And when we can be public about the list you'll understand why I"m also doing whats best for Hamilton.


With respect to Woody10s comments. Woody you're right, children play an enormous role in the cultural fabric of Hamilton, and there is no reason they should be engaged by this facility. BUT as you've noted there are many places like DVSA and HCA (two organizations I love) that are already doing this and doing it well. I DO NOT want to create undue competition for them in this market. We would certainly welcome their involvement in enhancing their programs within this site - but I will not be seeking out new school for teaching children in this space unless they are offering something new to the community.

In my mind I want this to be a facility where children come and get inspired by those who have advanced through the ranks of training to become professionals. It a place to graduate to as they progress. A place to mix, mingle and learn from our countries finest.
The energy that children bring to a space, even to us jadded professionals, is infectious. It must be incorporated into this project.


Keep the comment flowing folks. Read the report. Give us our feedback. Join the "Building a Creative Catalyst" Facebook group. Whatever method you prefer. Just keep talking about this. If City Hall makes up it's bleedin' mind on this we may have a few nickles to rub together and have a public forum on the matter.

Jeremy

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted January 21, 2010 at 09:23:05

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By Urbanista (anonymous) | Posted January 21, 2010 at 09:32:26

"The steering committee for the project has the site selection narrowed to 3 key locations."

I hope one of those locations is that bloody bingo parlor on King.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted January 21, 2010 at 10:08:30

Capitalist: Do you know of a place that is hiring, that will meet my skill level. I have been looking and well they does not seem to be anything really up in the area, you are boasting about.

I know that you tried to come across as someone who cares but when you read between the lines of your words, well one can get the inference of what you really stand for. Because I do not hear you really doing anything to change the system that would help people move forward.

I asked a question yesterday for you to supply a list of all these employers and their jobs and you supplied nothing really, considering so many in this city are looking for work and could be very well reading this blog and then you go on the attack mode today. Well your words say a lot about who you are.

Anyway, since I am not actively working, I do volunteer in the community and that is a contribution to our community in more ways then one.

At least I care about people and their circumstances and what the real cause of the deep poverty is. I guess you did not see this article in the spec, as those the working poor and those who have lost jobs are accessing these services just to eat

http://www.thespec.com/article/706951

Or how about this ditty in the spec today

http://www.thespec.com/News/Business/art...

You will note these words: "We don't have resilient people in our community," he said.

"A whole bunch of them aren't able to commit themselves to our community because they spend half their time looking for food and shelter."

So everyone: Please say a prayer for me, I have applied for a job in Toronto, that I at least get an interview. Because you see Capitalist, maybe all my volunteer work, may give me the edge on this position and that I could be in a postion to empower people.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted January 21, 2010 at 10:57:15

I do believe that any investment in this city is to be looked at as positive. This includes the RHVP.

You're right that many people on this site don't believe that the RHVP was a good investment, but the main reason it has come up in this discussion is to point out the hypocrisy of suddenly getting all fiscally concerned and questioning whether the potential millions invested in this project will be worth it, when those same questions weren't asked about the hundreds of millions invested in the RHVP. We just assume that highways are always a worthwhile investment in spite of evidence to the contrary, yet get all pissy at the idea of investing in the arts - a proven economic generator.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted January 21, 2010 at 13:17:07

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By highwater (registered) | Posted January 21, 2010 at 13:51:11

Read the report, Capitalist. Do you have any idea the number of arts-related jobs there are in this city? And if you read the report, you'd see that the arts have played a key role in the revitalization of a number of post-industrial cities. The difference is that those cities made a conscious commitment to invest in the arts as an economic generator, something Hamilton has yet to do. It's ridiculous to blame our arts community as it currently exists for not reversing decades of decay overnight.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 21, 2010 at 14:03:38

thx grassroots....just trying to insert some lighthearted humour into the discussion. I hate how red hill always comes up regardless of the topic.

Comment edited by jason on 2010-01-21 13:07:03

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted January 21, 2010 at 14:05:54

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By z jones (registered) | Posted January 21, 2010 at 14:58:50

So all the tax dollars that that city residents are forced to hand over to the AGH, Hamilton Place, Copps, HECFI, Theatre Aquarius, Opera Hamilton, public libraries, etc, etc etc.

Traditional art venues != creative industries. Read the report.

This report was commissioned and manipulated to benefit a special interest

Did you read the report before deciding that?

I suspect that not many of you pay taxes in this city.

Handy way to dismiss people who disagree with you but hard to believe. Most of the commenters on RTH sound like educated professionals to me - you know, the kind of people you say we need more of downtown.

Of course, if you bothered to read the report you'd know there are lots of educated creative professionals in Hamilton who want the downtown to be successful. Many are already located downtown, have put there money where there mouth is (ooh does that make them "special interests") and really want their own businesses and the downtown as a whole to be successful.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted January 21, 2010 at 15:46:55

Now you are attacking public libraries, what is wrong with you.

Comment edited by grassroots are the way forward on 2010-01-21 14:47:55

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted January 21, 2010 at 15:54:06

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By ollie (anonymous) | Posted January 21, 2010 at 16:09:53

Why doesn't anyone sign there names on this forum?

Please when you comment sign your name.

Also please please please read the report, I have no idea what Capitalist is talking about, are you posting in the right thread?

I would like to comment on your posts but they make no reference to the catalyst document or its suggestions/conclusions.

thanks

ollie

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted January 21, 2010 at 17:12:25

Read what you wrote: city residents are forced to hand over to the AGH, Hamilton Place, Copps, HECFI, Theatre Aquarius, Opera Hamilton, public libraries, etc, etc etc.

Forced is a pretty strong word, who is angry, must be you

Comment edited by grassroots are the way forward on 2010-01-21 16:12:51

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 21, 2010 at 17:17:56

I suspect that not many of you pay taxes in this city.

I sure don't. In fact, I'm sending this message from a mobile device I stole from the pawnshop on King St that doesn't want light rail, while lying down in Gore Park as my Doberman goes nuts on everyone.

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By woody10 (registered) | Posted January 21, 2010 at 23:37:58

Jason, that's howls, lol, ha ha ha.

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By Imperial (anonymous) | Posted January 22, 2010 at 23:55:54

http://www.thespec.com/News/Local/article/709804

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 23, 2010 at 08:18:38

I'm not sure what to make of that article. Is there any realistic hope of Hamilton gaining 5,000 jobs in the next 6 years, let alone 50,000??

Or is the 50,000 not a net number? I could see us gaining 50,000 and losing 65,000, but this article makes it sound like it will be 50,000 new jobs.

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By Imperial (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2010 at 14:28:39

I agree. The article isn't that clear. They also eluded to people hitting retirement age - does that mean replacing them is a "new job"? Might mean a need for more people to fill existing jobs, but not a net increase in actual jobs. I'll do some digging and see what I can find out.

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By Imperial (anonymous) | Posted January 24, 2010 at 20:30:24

This is just a general post of frustration.

There seems to be a small group of people who have taken the tact the best way to promote their vision for our community is to personally defame me. The most painful part of this story for me is that its being done by a handful of people I've known since childhood.
People from whom I've purchased work, worked side-by-side with on numerous projects, shared programming with and on numerous occasions promoted and defended.

While I respect that they may have differing views on how to advance our industry I cannot understand why their process for voicing that opinion has to come in the form of insult, lies and disrespect. It truly pains me - from one individual in particular.

Nevertheless I will continue with the process I've started.

The work I do is for a non-profit organization. I don't own any of the buildings I've worked to develop, I hold no shares, I do not personally gain from the financial benefit our organization generates for the community through appreciated realestate values, etc. I have a modest salary that keeps me happy and I work hard to build a career.

To destroy some myths right now:

(1) our organization has not been fired from working with the good folks at the 270 Sherman complex - our relationship with them is actually better than ever and mutually beneficial.

(2) our organization has coordinated the Fringe festival for the past two years. during that time we've increased the number of artists involved, brought then sponsorship dollars they've never achieved before, increased their audience by over 70% last year, increased their volunteer engagement and reconnected them with the local theatre community. We've done this so well that they may not need us this year as they may strike a partnership with a larger theatre organization partner. From our view this is fantastic. When we started with them it was intented to be a stepping-stone partnership for them as they move towards independence and sustainability. I actually hope to bring a production to the Fringe this summer for the first time in a number of years.

(3) Our organization has been hired by the City to write reports and review programs. In every case this has been done through proper channels. RPF processes which we responded to publicly, or contracts we've been offered due to our connection to specific issues. All very public and completely above board.

(4) The ICCA received none of the $150,000 dedicated to the Catalyst project by Economic Development in November of 2008. These funds were used to hire a consulting team via a very public RFP process that was adjudicated by a team of City staff and ICCA representatives along with guideance from the Purchasing Dept.

A lot of the work noted above paid the ICCA funds which enable us to provide our building services for a very low cost. This is called "social enterprise", or running a non-profit organization responsibly. Instead of being completely reliant on grants we seek proejcts that keep the lights on and staff paid - grants supplement our work - enable us to try new things.

As I've done before I'm publishing my name and contact information with this post. If you or anyone you know want to become engaged in the process we've put in place for the Creative Catalyst I welcome your input - good, bad or ugly.

Hamilton artists and arts organizations have to stop eating each other alive. If our community is going to grow and succeed we have to start supporting each other - not kicking each other to the curb when we succeed or stumble.

Pull it together folks. Act like adults and the professionals we all claim to be.

Jeremy Freiburger
905-548-0111
jeremy@imperialcottoncentre.com



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By jason (registered) | Posted January 24, 2010 at 22:33:26

I have no clue about what you're talking about Jeremy, but it sounds pretty childish and immature.
As an outside observer who has never actually met you face to face, I say keep up the great work. You and your group have done much to further the vision of culture in Hamilton and the re-use of old buildings in Hamilton. I'm excited about your current projects on James North and in Jackson Square and look forward to hearing more about the Creative Catalyst project in the weeks ahead. Cheers, Jason

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By TheSniffTest (anonymous) | Posted January 31, 2010 at 01:09:30

Not attacking the ICCA, or the idea of catalyst, but the report is definitely tainted. I was shocked by the bias built into the report (yes, I read the entire thing), and the decision to sole recommend an operator is shocking.

As Jeremy pointed out the $150K report went to tender, so why shouldn't a management contract for such a large project also go out to tender? Regardless if it was the ICCA's idea that fact shouldn't automatically provide the right to manage the final outcome. Using that logic, the Royal Connaught developers should have gotten their money for their subsidized housing plan, after all it was their plan and they negotiated the city bureaucracy and won a city RFP to boot.

The fact that City Staff were involved in the process means little when at least one clearly identifiable staff member has several conflicts of interest.

Jacqueline Norton wrote the Staff Report, and I assume she was engaged with the consultants during their process. First, she at one time was a member of the ICCA's Board of Directors. Second, Jacqueline is married to Glen Norton a Senior Business Development Consultant with Hamilton’s Downtown Renewal office who also has an interest in the Hotel Hamilton, which by-the-way is managed by the ICCA.

Also, Glen Norton is involved with the Hamilton Realty Capital Corp, which Jacqueline writes in the final report "Staff will be looking to the Hamilton Realty Corporation as a potential partner in this regard." This is a distinct change from the consultants recommendation of: the Hamilton Realty Capital Corporation (or other appropriate investment group) to acquire a property within the downtown core."

Take it for what's it worth, but IMHO this report tainted. If you don't agree with the above then head out to the Dynes Tavern, or the Hillcrest for a beer. Closed for years you say, well those are two of the music venues/bar/restaurant listed in the consultants report......

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By Imperial (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2010 at 16:59:40

This is a perfect example of why we must proceed with the Creative Catalyst project. Our community has invested tons of money in these organizations and now they want to leave in order to continue growing and succeeding.

If we had continued to invest in cultural infrastructure these organizations could succeed in Hamilton and not have to move 20kms down the street.

http://thespec.com/News/Local/article/720013

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By Huh? (anonymous) | Posted March 02, 2010 at 14:56:41

WTF, I just heard this "Creative Catalyst" pitch has dropped most (if not all) reference to music, and now Design Schools are being pursued as the educational anchor.

If that's the case, can we please have our $150,000 for the consultants report back! How can the said consultants report be used to justify design when it leaned so heavily towards music, theatre and the space space required for those functions.

It's my opinion that more than a simple 'Find and Replace' in Word is required to change the recommendation of the report.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted March 02, 2010 at 15:23:39

Where did you hear this? Has a new report come out? Could you post a link?

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By Huh? (anonymous) | Posted March 03, 2010 at 09:07:19

I was told it came from Jeremy at some type of event at Artbar. Apparently, he said Mohawk Music is staying on the mountain, and now a design school is being courted as the anchor.

Let the 'spin' begin, that music and design are so close the report findinga are still valid........

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By highwater (registered) | Posted March 03, 2010 at 10:27:15

What type of design? Industrial? Graphic? If it's industrial, I'd say that's a good thing, but you're right, it would seem to call for a 're-do' of the business case.

Yoohoo! Imperial! Can you bring us up to speed?

Comment edited by highwater on 2010-03-03 09:28:15

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By Imperial (anonymous) | Posted April 01, 2010 at 22:10:29

Hey Folks

It's true that we're pursuing the design programs and schools that have been mentioned (animation, graphic, product - very diverse program). To be honest the first school we spoke to was most interested in bringing a film program > now we're talking to design folks > we're still talking music > I'm even going after museum studies again in hopes of creating a really dynamic and resilient mix.

The report noted a number of things:

(1) We have a creative sector that is very broad (graphic design, music, theatre, visual art, craft, web design, architecture, dance, arts education, etc and on and on). This is more important in deciding if there is a strong enough community to support a larger development.

(2) The clearly came out and said our communities strong point is music and that this segment of the industry is primed and ready for development, as well as being under-serviced. This has not changed and will still play a pivotal role in the catalyst project. Just might not mean that the first major tenant is music focused > also doesn't mean it won't be.

To quote the first page of the Executive Summary: "Ideally, the HCCP would occupy a large, iconic building (or buildings in a precinct) with an educational or
cultural institution as an anchor, along with a contemporary multi-purpose performance/rehearsal space,offices, studios, retail and hospitality uses. Tenants would include established businesses in the creative industries (e.g., music creation, promotion, distribution; film production) or any business that would benefit
from co-locating with creative people and businesses, and new enterprises."

The reality of this project (unlike some other downtown non-developments) is that we need to engage a major anchor tenant to get it on it's feet. So before we go raising money to buy a building we can't sustain we're focused on ensuring we have a base to build on. In my mind I don't particularly care which creative industry this is > music, dance, design, whatever. So long as its committed to Hamilton and striving for excellent its chosen discipline.

Whatever it is, it needs to be stable and substantial. In countless cases we've seen this realized as a campus of the college or university (Brock in St. Catherines, SFU in Vancouver, etc). We're in a good place with Mohawk conversations right now, but they are admittedly just conversations at this point. Conversations have led to site visits, and we hope that site visits lead to relationships and commitments.

I'll be honest - I find it really frustrating when people like "Huh?" say things like we're 'spinning' things or that the report is now invalid. As Bruce Mau says "people tend to focus on what doesn't work, instead of what does".

"Huh?" > are you telling me that because the report said music was strong that we should tell these major prospective partners to get lost? We should act like Hamilton has for decades with manufacturing and simply insist that it sustain our community? Thats nuts.

We've done the research to show that this concept can work in Hamilton if we act as responsible and innovative developers > and now we're working hard to assemble the elements that will make the project fly.

Post under your real name and I'll save you a ticket for the opening. Cheers.

Jeremy

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By More roads (anonymous) | Posted April 02, 2010 at 11:55:32

Here is a catalyst that will spur economic development...

Fix Hamilton's broken road infrastructure.

And while you're at it, build a raised highway from the 403 to Burlington St. In Toronto, where they have the raised Gardiner Expressway, they are undergoing a massive condo build out, producing plenty of new tax revenue for the city. People and businesses love locating near highways and Hamilton needs more of them.

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By Imperial (anonymous) | Posted June 24, 2010 at 23:11:54

So we're going to COW tomorrow for approval.

http://thespec.com/article/795575

Jeremy

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By Guest (anonymous) | Posted June 26, 2010 at 19:58:43

you should add linkedin as one of the social media platforms in which to share these articles

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