Pearl Company Closing

Pearl Company Closing


A surprising event happened recently in Hamilton: the Pearl Company (Hamilton, Ontario) announced it was shutting down.

The Pearl Company is a cultural enterprise owned and operated by Barbara Milne and Gary Santucci in the Landsdale neighbourhood of Hamilton. The reasons given for their decision to pull out was that they were no longer willing to fight City Hall in a long-running zoning dispute, which apparently has cost them a lot of money over the years.

The Pearl Company has been instrumental in bringing cultural events to one of the most distressed neighbourhoods of Hamilton. It is well known locally for putting on an almost absurdly large number of musical, theatrical and artistic performances in their converted industrial space. They also operate the successful Art Bus, which conducts tours of Hamilton's art galleries twice a month.

By all accounts, and from personal experience, their cultural contribution to the city is of the first order. They are the energizer bunnies of cultural entrepreneurship within the city. In any sensible regime they would be made heroes of urban renewal or be given the keys to the city. But not here.

There has been some discussion about the procedures involved in zoning applications and whether these procedures were followed, but the bottom line is that the good The Pearl Company is doing is readily apparent while the bad they might be doing is not apparent at all.

Development resulting from cultural initiatives such as the James St North Art Crawl gets a lot of press in Hamilton. But running The Pearl Company out of town seems not only to be a bad idea, it seems like a crazy idea.

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