When I first moved to Hamilton, all I’d ever hear were negative things. Having moved from Winnipeg to Burlington, and later Toronto, all anyone ever said at the time was “stay away from Hamilton” or “Hamilton is a dump”. But then I had the opportunity to move to the Hammer, and while I was reluctant at first, I’m so glad I did.
Hamilton has been called “Canada’s Answer to Brooklyn” and having been through Brooklyn multiple times, pre-renaissance and post, I couldn’t agree more. Similar to what Brooklyn experienced years ago, we too are in the midst of our own resurgence.
While Hamilton will forever be known as Steel Town, we are also quickly becoming known as a music and arts mecca.
Within the last three to four years, Hamilton has taken the spotlight in many national and international events, with each sold-out performance adding fuel to our reputational fire.
For example, last year Hamilton played home to both the Canadian Country Music Awards, the 6thannual HUM Awards, and acted as the kick-off to The Arkells’ Rally Cry Tour.
Let’s also not forget 2015, when we welcomed The Juno Awards to our backyard. It’s events such as these that have brought people to our city and given us the chance to make them feel at home.
More and more, musicians and artists are choosing to make Hamilton home, or at the very least, a stop on their tour. As a result, a greater number of venues have been popping up to offer their space to bands.
Core Entertainment was one of the first groups to spearhead this initiative, offering three choices of venues that can cater to crowds of various sizes. The Studio offers an intimate space, capable of bringing fans up-close and personal to their favourite acts, while FirstOntario Concert Hall serves as a solution for bands and shows not quite ready to fill full-size arenas.
Then there’s FirstOntario Centre, which has served as the home for many sold-out arena shows, including the only Canadian stop for internationally known K-pop stars BTS. Another K-pop band BlackPink is also making Hamilton their only Canadian stop — a show that sold out months in advance.
But for those looking for other options, various well-known local venues have also played their part. This Ain’t Hollywood, The Corktown Pub, Absinthe, Theatre Aquarius, The Zoetic, Tim Hortons Field, and of course Supercrawl, are all staples in the community which often fill up quickly with each show announcement.
As the city builds on its reputation, more and more venues seem to be popping up to fill the void and serve as new options for those looking to entertain our city’s arts lovers.
The Westdale Theatre recently re-opened after a stunning $4.6 million-dollar renovation, as did the vaudeville-era Playhouse Theatre. Other venues like The New Vison United Church offer even more medium-sized options to musicians and artists looking to perform in the Downtown Core.
Just as our city grows and attracts new residents, so too does our vibrant music, arts and culture scene. As long as we continue to play host to artists of all calibres, and continue to keep up with the growing demand, the sky is the limit as to where we go from here.
It’s for these reasons (and many more) that I am happy to now call Hamilton my home.