Realizing Hamilton’s potential as a creative city

City of Hamilton, Ontario

Over the past decade, the city of Hamilton, Ontario, has been emerging as a prime example of a former industrial giant adjusting to the 21st century economic climate. The city has been cited by Richard Florida and others as a leading example of cities reinventing themselves and transforming their economies through creativity and culture. Traditionally, the culture of the city of Hamilton had been viewed very much in the context of the City’s museums, delivering a range of cultural programs and providing funding for cultural groups and activities. Hamilton needed to reposition these cultural assets in a much stronger economic context for the city, both as a driver and a source of future economic development.

Positioning cultural assets as drivers of future economic development

In 2010, AuthentiCity, now MDB Insight’ Cultural Development division, completed the Realizing Hamilton’s Potential as a Creative City project develop a plan to better utilize the cultural assets of the city. The project involved mapping the city’s cultural resources, examining current Municipal plans and priorities connected to the creative economy and cultural development, conducting cross-departmental consultations, and preparing a final report setting out future directions and opportunities. The project was the first phase in a two-phase cultural planning process.

The city of Hamilton is now positioned to better utilize its cultural assets. The project played a role in changing attitudes about the economic importance and value of cultural planning and development among City staff and City Council members. Following the completion of the project, the City has since its Culture Division from the Community Services Division to the Economic Development Division. The project also received significant external recognition, with Colin Mercer, an internationally respected consultant and cultural planning pioneer, saying the final report “…is quite simply the best example of this work that I have seen in any country in the world to date.  And, I have seen a great many in 5 continents.”