In unbelievably sad news for arts & culture lovers of Hamilton, longstanding performance venue and arts incubator The Staircase has announced that it will likely stay shuttered even at the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic.
An arts and event space that’s been open in a gorgeous old heritage building on Dundurn Street since 1997, The Staircase has been the well-loved home to literally thousands of artists, performances, and events in its rich 23-year history.
From plays, to comedy shows, to movie screenings, to open mic nights, to poetry slams, to craft markets, to karate classes, to weddings and more, The Staircase is more than an independent arts space in Hamilton: it is the main incubation epicentre for independent artists of all kinds in the city.
The loss of The Staircase is a huge blow to #HamOnt's arts and cultural sector.
They are such a community asset, both Hugh MacLeod and Kathy Garneau are owed a huge debt of gratitude for years of making the Staircase work. Sad to see it close. https://t.co/Ncpc3yBw9N
— Joey Coleman (@JoeyColeman) August 3, 2020
However, like many performance venues struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic, The Staircase has announced through its website that they just don’t see a feasible way of keeping the doors open any longer while restrictions on live events promise to remain firmly in place for some time to come.
“When theatres are allowed to reopen, our intimate theatre will be limited to approximately 15 audience members. The Staircase survived entirely on ticket sales, concession sales and rentals, and these reduced numbers are not compatible with survival,” said The Staircase owners Hugh MacLeod and Kathy Garneau in a statement.
“The pandemic will eventually pass, vaccinations will appear, and life will return to a new normal. We are closed and expect to remain closed after the pandemic.”
News of The Staircase’s closure has sent a shockwave through the Hamilton arts community, many of whom have taken to social media to share memories and heartbroken goodbyes to this one-of-a-kind cultural space in Hamilton.
What is to become of The Staircase next? Only time will tell.
But hopefully, on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic with a gradual return to safe live events, there will be some way this important institution can be preserved for artists and the general Hamilton community alike as a local landmark that has made the city and its arts scene so, so much richer.
Lead image courtesy of @thestaircase