The Hamilton Arts Council is voicing concern over an emerging barrier for those who work in creative industries within the city.
In 2015-16, more than $1.4 million in provincial funding was awarded to organizations in the community through the Ontario Arts Council.
Executive Director Stephanie Vegh says these grants are critical, as many artists live below the poverty line.
“The difference between an OAC grant and not getting an OAC grant some years can make the difference between whether or not you’re going to make new work,” Vegh said.
But project funding is not the only concern weighing heavily on Hamilton artists these days.
“Hamilton used to be a very affordable place. For a lot of people coming from Toronto, it’s still seen as affordable.”
“For Hamilton artists earning Hamilton incomes, it’s starting to become a bit of a challenge,” she said.
Artists, who are often expected to work for free or recognition according to Vegh, face average house prices that exceed $400,000 in Hamilton.
Obtaining rehearsal or studio space is an added layer.
Vegh would like to see policies and planning that reflect the needs and realities of the industry in Hamilton.
One solution she suggests is re-zoning areas for artistic purposes.
“Eventually you need your local artists to be able to have the means and resources to tell Hamilton-based stories,” she said.