Words from Lee Reed @freeleereed #hamont #KEEPHAMILTONAFFORDABLE
So. I got all flustered on the stage last night, accepting my HMA. I’m not used to speaking in front of a crowd without alotta beer and yelling. I think I mumbled some thanks to my peeps.. forgot people.. then gave it a “keep Hamilton Hamilton”.. into a long awkward stare, and a final “this entire beautiful music apparatus is brought to you by cheap rent and housing.. thanks goodnight” haha.
WHAT I MEANT TO SAY was..
Look at this big beautiful thing we call “the Hamilton music scene”. Think of it as a big beautiful tree.. bearing delicious healthy fruits. And the HMAs are like a kinda harvest festival or a county fair.. celebrating these tasty fruits. Blue ribbons. Red ribbons. Speeches about and for the fruit! Mmm-Mmm. Good music. Good fruits. Good tree. Good us!! HAMILTON MUSIC.!! WOOT WOOT.!! We do a pretty good job of recognizing and honouring that tree, as we should.
But, then there’s THE ROOTS of that tree! You can’t forget the roots! And we do a pretty good job of celebrating the roots of that tree.. honouring the studios, the record shops, the clubs, the festivals, the media, the journalists, the videographers, photographers, designers, bar staff, doors, sound.. and all the hardworking wonderful peeps that make our roots strong.. and help grow this beautiful music tree / music scene. I think we do a pretty good job recognizing the importance of these roots to our scene. And celebrating the important contributions that those roots make. HAMILTON MUSIC SCENE.!! WOOT WOOT.!!
BUT.. the thing we always forget to thank & celebrate though? THE SOIL.!! That’s right. You can’t have healthy trees without healthy roots. And you can’t have healthy roots if you don’t have HEALTHY SOIL. And I think, this city could do a much better job of thanking, honouring and helping that soil.
What is this soil you ask? I’m talking all the unpaid and/or precariat workers that makes our City’s music and art scene the beautiful thing that it is. I mean the people that do it cuz they LOVE IT, while the money goes elsewhere.. the people that give and give and give to the music community, while barely eking out a living.. the DIY spaces and DIY shops.. the back alley, side door, basement spots.. the gallery spaces that host shows, and make fuck all from it.. the basement & bedroom recording studios and engineers.. the house show hosts.. the poster makers, sticker makers, t-shirt makers, pin makers, and designers that trade their work for beer tickets or guest lists.. the bartering and exchanging artists.. the artists honing their craft, while working 2 other part time jobs, and living for that gig on the weekend.. the artists that are offered “exposure” or “opportunity” from money-making organizations.. all of that.. it’s like THE SOIL. The lifeblood of this music scene is in this soil… in SOOOOOOOOOO MANY unpaid and unacknowledged hours of work. The soil that makes ALL THIS MUSIC possible.. from the roots, to the tree, to the fruit it bears.. is the unpaid and under-appreciated artists living in the dirt. The soil. That’s where you can find the next Terra Lightfoot. The next Dirty Nil. The next TV Freaks. The next Tom Wilson even. All of those youngins are currently in the soil. Doing dirt. And struggling, month to month, on the edges of the precariat, FOR THE LOVE OF MUSIC and the LOVE OF OUR MUSIC COMMUNITY.
Healthy soil is what will keep this music scene healthy going forward. Dead soil will make for a dead arts scene. End of story.
So to the movers, shakers and decision makers of ?#?HamOnt?.. I would like to remind you.. if you love this arts and music scene like you say you do.. if you wanna keep it alive and healthy.. and you wanna continue selling this city, on the backs of these hard-working, under-paid and under-appreciated, culture-loving and culture-creating artists.. remember.. there is only ONE THING you need to do, ONE SIMPLE THING: KEEP RENT AND HOUSING AFFORDABLE. That’s it. That’s your only fucking job in this whole process. KEEP HAMILTON AFFORDABLE. Fuck your music office. Fuck your EcDev incentives. Fuck your hack attempts at commandeering this beautiful ORGANICALLY GROWN arts scene.. and pretending you EVER HAD A HAND IN HELPING IT. You have only one thing to do.. KEEP HAMILTON AFFORDABLE. That’s. Fucking. It. That’s the only contribution you CAN and SHOULD make.
You say you love the arts and the artists of #HamOnt.?? THEN PROVE IT. Make a commitment to fostering and keeping them here. KEEP HAMILTON AFFORDABLE.
HOWEVER.. if you say you love the arts and artists of #HamOnt.. but, really you just love selling condos.. really you just love profiting offa booming real-estate market.. really you just get hard every time a demo or reno starts in our downtown.. really, your social-innovating entrepreneurial think-tank is just there to make money offa the broke-ass artists (& the unpaid culture and unpaid brilliance they create). If that’s you.. know that you are AN ENEMY OF THE ARTS. You are the toxin in this soil. You are the shitty chemical fertilizer in this soil. You are the Monsanto of this field. You are the death of arts and culture. Cuz you are killing the soil.
If you wanna keep the arts and music scene healthy in #HamOnt, like you say you do.? KEEP HAMILTON AFFORDABLE. That’s your only fucking job.
I love this city. And I love this city’s music & arts scene. Let’s keep that soil healthy.!