The Staircase unofficially opened in 1997 and has been a cultural incubator ever since. We closed our doors mid-March 2020 to protect our community and our loved ones from the COVID pandemic.
To maintain artistic freedom, we did not follow the pathway of government funding. The Staircase survived entirely on ticket sales, concession sales and rentals. As a family-based artrepreneurial venture, were unable to sustain the project for the duration of the pandemic. Very sadly, this has lead to the permanent shuttering of The Staircase
The people, values, beliefs and love that embodied The Staircase flourished in a historic building. 27 Dundurn North was Canada’s first electric power distribution station. From 1914 to 1977, the transformers delivered electricity to Hamilton’s homes and industry. Since the beginning of this century Hamiltonians electrified Hamilton at 27 Dundurn with their creativity. The building has always been for and about the people in it. Since the people of The Staircase left 27 Dundurn the building is looking for new caretakers.
Around 2010 The Staircase came under the guidance of Colette Kendall. Colette worked tirelessly towards the goal of a self sustaining, community driven arts facility. There is no question that she achieved this goal. Building an arts facility from the tickets sales from a micro theatre, the concession sales from a micro kitchen, and scheduling >100 events per month was a herculean task. Colette persevered and vision for 2020 was very good indeed. We all know what happened next and even the robust arts incubator that she created could not withstand a global pandemic. Hamilton is indebted to Colette’s performer centered vision that drove The Staircase to it’s greatest heights.
The Staircase occupied a disproportionate amount of our family’s time and resources. Colin and Liam grew up with this cantankerous older brother called The Staircase. Our family has spend 25 years collectively raising this third child. Often pure obstinance is all that kept us in the community theatre game. We were getting tired.
While The Staircase contributes to the health of the city, it also depends on the health of the city. As owners we had been planning for an eventual LRT stop at Dundurn and King. Anti-transit radicals killed the democratically supported LRT project in late 2019. It became clear that one could not plan for the future in Hamilton.
In January 2020 we started working on our exit from The Staircase. Our goals were to keep Colette rolling and protect the community space. The pandemic drove a micro-organism through the lungs of this plan. So here we are at this truly sad juncture.
There are so many people thank. It will take years to thank everyone that made this run possible.
— Hugh MacLeod and Kathy Garneau (Liam and Colin and 27)
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