In Hamilton, real estate is the new art

In Hamilton, real estate is the new art

This column is an opinion by Gavin Stephens, host of the Uncolonized podcast and a standup comedian. It is component of a exclusive municipal election venture by CBC Hamilton, featuring voices from the community. Find all our election coverage in this article. 

I convey to jokes for a dwelling. Like, I go on stage and explain to jokes. It’s a strange matter to publish down on a credit rating card software, but it can be what I do. And I do it about the globe. 

I was nominated for a Juno award this calendar year for my album, All Inclusive Coma, and I have to credit portion of the nom to the simple fact that I reside in the town of Hamilton. It really is a position I uncover as an artist the place you strip away the promoting and small business factors of functioning on a venture and just function on the venture. Hamilton retains you straightforward. 

When I moved here in 2012, landlords ended up just satisfied to fill their houses. Landlords would see a married pair and vacation in excess of themselves to give you a spot. The hire was low cost and the wine flowed like butter. I necessarily mean, that is pure hyperbole, but I did move from an costly town to a fairly much less expensive metropolis so I could focus on carrying out my artwork. 

I was going to are living the daily life I dreamed of as a comedian who did comedy without having a day position. In Canada? Unheard of. Positive, I was in my mid-30s, but it was all coming alongside one another. My lover had a good occupation, I was touring and doing minimal roles on tv. We had DISPOSABLE Cash flow! 

I arrived to Hamilton throughout the whole “Artwork is the new steel” era. The branding embraced by a lot of sectors in the town depicted Hamilton as the hip new put for youthful artists and business people to lay down roots. It was an attempt to move absent from the blue-collar, industrial graphic that was the backbone of Metal Town considering the fact that endlessly.

I believed it intended a modify deeper than slogans. Pointless to say, I was very naive. 

Ten a long time afterwards, rents have skyrocketed and the charge of living has skyrocketed. “Artwork is the new Steel” has turn into “Genuine estate is the new artwork.” Which is what people today are investing in, not resourceful outputs. 

For the duration of the pandemic, and even just before it, housing prices and rental prices rose all more than Canada, and, by no coincidence, homeless encampments expanded. “Renovictions,” one thing I read going on to mates of mine back again in Toronto, started happening a lot more generally listed here. Beloved spots like This Ain’t Hollywood, the Hamilton rock club staple, have been sold to serious estate developers who want to change the best flooring into higher conclude “residences.” 

Very affordable for all, which includes working and inventive people

In the guide How to Destroy a Metropolis, by P.E. Moskowitz, the author points out that “gentrification, at its deepest stage, is genuinely about reorienting the intent of towns away from remaining areas that present for the poor and center classes and toward getting spaces that generate money for the rich.” 

Cities, in their endeavor to “rejuvenate” downtown cores, will carry in artists in get to catch the attention of the cash. Artists support generate a voice for communities, a canvas to express the several men and women that live there. It really is straightforward to see why persons want to stay in spots exactly where artists are likely to congregate. 

Even so, the moment the funds arrives, affordability goes, displacing not only the artists, but the individuals who stay and perform in the region in the system. 

The Raven is a mural in Hamilton. As Gavin Stephens writes, art is essential to this city, and this metropolis is vital to artwork. (Cara Nickerson/CBC)

I know as an artist I am incredibly substantially a element of all of this. I moved from Toronto with the assure of inexpensive housing, one thing quite a few Torontonians have performed and go on to do, driving up rates in the method. I was naive to imagine that attracting youthful creatives to the town was the stop purpose, and not one of the stepping stones to gentrification.

Now, a great deal older and wiser, I realize that “artwork is the new steel,” is just a stepping stone toward condo development. I also have an understanding of that a city like Hamilton is designed upon the notion that as a community we need to have to take care of the least fortuitous among us. That art, economical housing and suitable work opportunities can and ought to co-exist.

When we assume about housing, primarily in the course of elections, we seem to target on the affordability of getting houses or the pursuits of new homeowners. Whilst I will never argue that isn’t significant, a priority for this year’s election ought to be economical housing across the board.

The ability to not just do the job but to have quality of life is essential. As an artist, I see several of my contemporaries remaining pushed to the fringes, possessing to relocate to smaller sized and lesser towns. 

Very last 12 months, I had the honour of web hosting the Hamilton Arts Awards. I experienced the privilege of interviewing a various section of artists, who make up this town. 1 factor I took away was how a great deal this city encouraged them to produce, and how significantly of this city was in their perform. 

Art is essential to this metropolis, and this metropolis is crucial to art. I hope all of us here consider time to keep in mind that. 

For more of CBC Hamilton’s municipal election protection: