Hamilton Economic Development

Creative Industries

Creative Industries includes a wide variety of business in areas such as music, film, fashion, writing and publishing, visual and applied arts, graphic design, and live performance and festivals. This sector fosters creativity and innovation; helps attract and support other industries and sectors through its positive impact on quality of life and enhances Hamilton’s image as a vibrant city.

Hamilton has a long history as a creativity and innovation, with several cultural institutions established over a century ago (including the Players’ Guild of Hamilton,  the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Hamilton Musicians’ Guild, and the Art Gallery of Hamilton).  Hamilton is home to a well-established network of cultural organizations and infrastructure including, FirstOntario Centre (formerly Copps Coliseum), FirstOntario Concert Hall (formerly Hamilton Place), Theatre Aquarius, the Hamilton Arts Council and Hamilton Artists Inc.Cobalt Connects, Factory Media Centre, etc.

Like many North American municipalities, Hamilton recognizes the importance of Creative Industries as an economic driver and catalyst for urban renewal.  Media attention has been paid to this ‘cultural renaissance’ and in 2002, Creative Industries were included in the City’s 2010 Economic Development Strategy and are prominent in the 2016-2020 Economic Development Action Plan.

Hamilton Fashion Video and Look Book

Hamilton’s fashion industry has been experiencing steady growth. The city is now home to the fifth largest cluster of fashion businesses in Canada and is a top-three destination for fashion occupations.

To help promote this growing industry, the City of Hamilton has developed a fashion video and online look book, profiling ten local designers. The video features stunning designs set against unique backdrops across the city while exploring history of fashion and retailers in Hamilton.

What does Hamilton consider as a creative business?

The City of Hamilton defines Creative Industries similar to Stats Canada, which has six categories: (in alphabetical order)

  1. Fashion: Fashion Designers, Jewellery makers/designers, Textile, Dressmaker and/or tailor and others.
  2. Film: Film makers, Producers, Directors, Pre and post production services (some overlap with music), Costume and wig makers, Set design, Screenwriters and others.
  3. Live Performance: Performing Arts such as Theatre (except Musical), Dance, Actors, Comedians, Other performing arts and Festival organizers 
  4. Music: Musicians, Composers, Conductors, Record Labels and Music Supervision, Artist management and Concert/event production and promotion, Sound Recording, Music publishing, Live Music Venue Operators, Musical theatre and performance venues, Music organizations, Music instruction, Retail (instrument sales, record stores), Broadcasting (radio stations), Sound & Lighting (cross over with film), Booking agents and others.
  5. Visual and Applied Arts & Makers: Original Visual Art, Art Reproductions, Photography, Crafts, Architecture, Graphic Design, All mediums (wood, glass, metal etc.) and Animation
  6. Written and Published Works: Books, Periodicals, Newspapers, Poets and other Published Works.

What is the City working on now?

Research and Business Planning

The City is committed to continuing to grow this sector and establishing benchmarks (i.e. number of businesses, number of workers/labour pool). In 2018, the City is developing a Creative Industry Sector Profile that will not only assist the City’s efforts but also aid in business planning for entrepreneurs.

Work on the Sector Profile began in March 2018 (completion estimated in Q4 2018) and will contain:

  • Labour pool data
  • SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats)
  • Opportunities for Consultation & Engagement activities (dates for consultation will be posted online and shared via @HamiltonEcDev)
  • Analysis of existing and required Skills, Education & Training needed to support the industry
  • Identification and further review of top 3-5 categories within the sector
  • Direct & Indirect Impacts/Spend of Creative Industries
  • Recommendations to grow and support this industry

What kind of support is available for Creative Industries in particular?

Professional Development and Networking Opportunities

  • Building capacity and supporting the expansion and creation of creative businesses is a priority for 2018.
  • Professional development and training opportunities working with local and national partners including:
    • Creative Exchange Networking Events: free quarterly series of after work meet ups in various locations across the city geared to creative industry entrepreneurs. (Details/dates/link to come)
    • Biz SmARTs lunchtime series (free) every Thursday in March at noon at 28 James Street North at the Visitor Centre/Lister Building. To register and for more details on the list of the five workshops covering Business Planning, Achieving Your Business Goals, Financial Management, Marketing and Digital Branding & Marketing go to www.bruha.com/event/3002

What are some of the strengths in a few areas within the sector?

Film, Music and Fashion

Filming Destination and Location for Future Film Studios

  • In addition to Hamilton’s excellent film locations; Hamilton is home to many innovative businesses and talent (props, equipment, sets, make-up artists, designers, wardrobe, actors etc.) who are here to support the growing film industry. To learn more: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezGI16YcYAE
  • In 2017, the City Issued 539 film permits, which resulted in $12,176,945 direct spend by production companies on hotel stays and other accommodations, private or business location rental fees, products and services purchased from local Hamilton businesses, donations to BIAs and other community organizations, catering services, etc.
  • 700+ unionized film workers live in Hamilton (i.e. directors, technicians, writers, actors, hair/make up and costume designers etc.)
  • 80% of enquiries from businesses wanting to build/open a full-service film studio in Hamilton came from companies/individuals who have filmed in the City within the last one-two years.
  • 42% of productions filmed in Hamilton are for TV series (a Canadian trend) and 11% for feature films. (examples of TV series for 2017: The Handmaid’s Tale, Murdoch Mysteries, new Frankie Drake, Taken, Designated Survivor)
  • Looking to shoot a film in Hamilton, head to hamilton.ca/film

Hamilton: City of Music 

  • In 2017, the City Enrichment Fund Arts programs (CEF) provided funding to support Hamilton’s music industry in the amount of $809,425K which translates to support for 24 music organizations, events and/or musicians
  • An engaged Music Advisory Team made up of local music industry representative who advise and assist with the City’s Music Strategy. The City is grateful for industry support and 1,000s+ of volunteer hours from the Music Industry towards the City’s Music Strategy.
  • Four (4) Welcome Musicians signs were installed at Loading Zones for live music venues (increasing awareness and helping musicians do their work)
  • City recognizes musicians as entrepreneurs – organizing (free) Professional Development Opportunities provided to local musicians
  • Hamilton has 20+ recording studios
  • There are 150+clubs, bars, cafes, churches, museums, patios and other venues where live music is regularly performed across the City and an average of 70+ live music shows across the city each month
  • Hamilton’s Musician Guild has more than 600 active members and is the fastest growing local of the American Federation of Musicians
  • Hamilton is identified as 7thin the world for independent musicians per capita. This means, Hamilton has more independent musicians per capita than many top tier cities with large local music scenes, including Toronto, Montreal and New York. (reference: Hamilton Music Strategy)


Interested in Opening or Expanding Here:


Debbie Spence
Business Development Consultant
Tel: 905-546-2424 ext. 3049
Email: Debbie.Spence@hamilton.ca




Ranked Canada's most diversified economy, home to Canada's busiest multi-modal cargo airport, the busiest port on the Canadian Great Lakes, and centrally located within a one hour drive to Toronto, Waterloo and the Niagara/US Border, Hamilton is at the center of it all. With two internationally renowned post-secondary institutions in the city (surrounded by 23 other), a diverse and learned workforce and both ample greenfield and urban sites upon which to build, we're ready for your investment.

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