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This new project is paying Hamilton’s BIPOC artists to make new art

Are you a Hamilton-based BIPOC artist who wants to get paid to create something this summer?

Well, a new local initiative – the first of its kind in the city – is planning to help you do just that.

The Garden Project is an exciting new arts initiative that aims to put money in the hands of Hamilton’s Black, Indigenous, and racialized artists working in the field of live performance; everything from playwrights, to choreographers, to performance artists, and beyond.

Facilitated by Hamilton-based Porch Light Theatre in association with Industry, The Garden Project fills a notable void in the Hamilton arts community: a professional initiative specifically created with local BIPOC artists in mind.

According to Aaron Jan, one of the co-founders of Porch Light Theatre alongside Karen Ancheta, that void and lack of meaningful resources has meant that Hamilton has lost many incredible BIPOC artists to more robust and diversified artistic communities.

“We are aware that Hamilton has not always felt like a friendly place for artists of colour in both the distribution and programming of our work and the compensation,” said Jan. “We want to buck that trend and make Hamilton feel like an artistic home.”

Jan himself is one of Hamilton-born artists who ended up leaving the city to pursue his career in a community filled with richer opportunities. He currently resides in Toronto, where he works professionally as a theatre director, but has been actively planning ways of supporting his hometown arts community.

So how will this initiative work? The Garden Project is currently accepting donations from the community, which will be used to commission multiple Black, Indigenous, and racialized artists in Hamilton with $2,000 towards the creation of new works of live performance art. Selected creators will also be paired with mentors for support.

From public donations alone, The Garden Project has already seen an outpouring of support; dozens of contributions from donors within Hamilton and beyond – even some internationally – have raised nearly $9,000 towards the project so far.

The Garden Project has selected local playwright Radha S. Menon as their first commissioned artist. An award-winning theatre artist who has worked internationally, Menon is the artistic director of Hamilton’s Red Betty Theatre and current artist in residence at McMaster University’s School of the Arts. Menon also just received the 2020 Arts Innovation Award from the City of Hamilton Arts Awards this past week.

But the project doesn’t stop there. Local BIPOC artists are encouraged to submit an application for The Garden Project on the initiative’s webpage prior to July 10th for consideration. Individuals who want to donate to the project so more artists can be supported are also still able to do so.

For more details on how to apply or donate to the Garden Project, check out their website.

Lead image courtesy of @industryhamont

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