A motion in front of Hamilton’s City Council on Wednesday (May 27) is looking to have the rooftop of the York Boulevard Parkade designated as a temporary open-air performance space.
The goal of the motion, introduced by Ward 2 councillor Jason Farr, is to help support performance artists during the pandemic.
“The required closure of a number of venues that normally host such performances has negatively impacted artists as well as host organizations and venue operators,” the motions outlines.
“The City’s Economic Development Division’s Business Impact Survey found that 71 per cent of creative businesses reported that COVID had impacted their revenues by more than 50 per cent and 36 per cent of businesses in this sector have decreased employment by 100 per cent.”
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The York parkade, located kitty-corner from the main entrance of the Hamilton Farmers’ Market, is identified in the motion as being ideal for a performance space because it is currently underutilized, accessible, it’s not immediately surrounded by residential areas, and it would make controlling the size of audiences easier.
The motion calls on city staff from various departments to “seek interest from potential Licensees to operate a small, temporary open-air performance space venue,” who would then be tasked with “organizing, scheduling and managing a small performance series program.”
The motion will undoubtedly be cause for heated debate in light of the current restrictions in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
Farr introduced a motion earlier this month to allow for the creation of ‘outdoor dining districts’ when restrictions on businesses start to ease, to allow restaurants to expand their footprint and provide space for physical distancing.
That motion passed successfully, but only after several councillors voiced their concerns about creating a ‘destination’ for people to gather.
And, much like the previously successful motion, this new initiative seeks to support the recovery of a sector of Hamilton business and culture that has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic.
“Hamilton’s music industry employs an estimated 7,725 workers and has a total of 541 businesses,” Farr’s motion points out.
“The Live Music Venues Research Report has identified that Hamilton’s direct GDP from music venues is $32.6M with $2.6M from property taxes and total revenues generated by venues was $62.7M.”
The motion will be debated at Wednesday’s virtual city council meeting which starts streaming on the city’s youtube channel at 9:30 a.m.