Comment 72612

By Nox (anonymous) | Posted December 30, 2011 at 09:41:51

Hamilton’s arts and culture division is getting a makeover.

The department — formerly under the umbrella of community services at City Hall — is being taken over by the city’s economic development and planning division.

The move will give the department a higher profile, more resources and a new businesslike focus, said Tim McCabe, the city’s director of economic development and planning. It’s responsible for areas such as museums, public art installations, heritage, festivals and other special events.

“I want to turn it into another economic driver,” McCabe said. “I think I’m going to insert some economic development staff and approach it like we do other businesses.”

Expect more money and opportunities flowing into culture, but also greater accountability for money and opportunities. Great news for any festivals and orgs that can demonstrate ROI, but potentially double-edged because culture's raison d'etre isn't purely pecuniary. Having bureaucrats pimping artists out for the benefit of PR optics or spreadsheet bounce is inherently problematic. It will be interesting to see how this shapes the expectations/criteria around arts funding.

Some obvious efficiencies, though. As you'd expect, the lacklustre Tourism Hamilton gets re-assimilated by EcDev and blended into the culture division, which will be a cost savings, since the city's dumping $1.4 million a year down that well.

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