What is The Pearl Company?
The Pearl Company is an arts and performance facility in the heart of the Landsdale neighbourhood in downtown Hamilton.
Renovated in 2006 from a three-story brick factory building by musician Gary Santucci and arts activist Barbara Milne, the facility has devoted two of its three floors to the arts. (They live on the top floor which is frequently used for post-event receptions.) Over the past eight years, The Pearl Company has launched a number of arts initiatives, including the ARTBus, the Opus Mundi Festival, numerous musical events, art openings, a number of theatre festivals, a script development series of workshops, and two outdoor festivals.
Over the years, Barbara and Gary together received The City of Hamilton Arts Award 2008 for Lifetime Achievement; Gary has been the recipient of the City of Hamilton Arts Award for Music 2004, and Barbara was awarded Woman of Distinction in the Arts 2008. The Pearl Company has also been named the Hamilton Music Awards Theatre of the Year 2013!
Our Mandate is to:
- create a multi-disciplinary space that develops and presents works that draw on all the arts, including music, visual art, dance, film, spoken word and theatre
- present work that is multi-cultural, socially aware, politically engaged, and connected to Hamilton’s diverse communities
- foster work that is innovative, exhilarating, adventurous and accessible
- facilitate work that is carried out to the highest standard, with integrity, commitment and respect
- build a supportive technical infrastructure for the efficient and effective development of new work
- act as a catalyst to make connections between artists, to enable artistic collaborations
- honour its wide-ranging audiences, both young and old, in a warm, welcoming, affirmative atmosphere
- activate a positive arts atmosphere that relates to the Landsdale neighbourhood
- provide a “great night out” .
The Pearl Company, named after the pearls lodged between its floor boards, was built around 1910 and was originally built for the Evel Casket Company which never actually moved in. (We think they may have decided it was too large for them). It became Reid Paper Box for many years; you can still see the ghost sign on the south side of the building. Then for approximately 30 years it housed The Canadian Pearl Company which made costume jewellery (yes, the pearls are plastic…) and when Canadian Pearl packed up, a number of different ventures filled the space.
Barbara Milne and Gary Santucci came along in 2006 and saw huge potential for both the Landsdale Neighbourhood and the Arts Community, and decided to use all that space for arts, culture and neighbourhood needs. They also could not resist taking on the Canadian Pearl Co name, minus the Canadian…. Through 2007 and 2008 and into the present Milne and Santucci have set a number of projects in motion, ranging from concerts to community activism, and the renowned Art Bus.
In the 2008-2009 season, The Pearl Company teamed up with Artword Theatre (ex-Torontonians Ronald Weihs and Judith Sandiford – now Artword Artbar, James North) who mounted four new and original plays with a Hamilton theme in the second floor performance space. They were also extremely helpful in renovating it to its current highly functional state.
In 2010, the enormous first floor art gallery was converted to a highly functional black box theatre-in-the-round with wings and backstage space. This area is now home to the HamilTEN Festival, our summer and winter Canadian Theatre Festivals, and numerous other theatrical events.
There are now three smaller gallery areas in the building, the main one now on the second floor in the concert hall lobby.
PS: We continue to have zoning issues with our city which we have not been able to resolve in our 8 years of struggle…. and triumph!
The Pearl email newsletter:
To receive the weekly newsletter, send an email note to Barbara Milne: firstname.lastname@example.org
She’ll add you to The Pearl email list.