On May 11th, the Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre (Emman, Ray, Adonis, Steve, Tyrone and Christian) was invited to the downtown Hamilton library to showcase a screening of videos produced by Regent Park youth. The screening was part of an event sponsored by Arts Hamilton called, Tackling Poverty through the Arts.
The event was inspired by a book called "Looking for X" about a young girl living in a single parent family in Regent Park. Because of her low income background and people's sterotypes about Regent Park the girl gets blamed by her peers and adults for bad things that happen at school that she never committed. The girl feels trapped, hungry and angry with the world. Because her mother is so busy working and taking care of her baby brother, the only person that she feels can understand her problems is a homeless person named X. Unfortunately X is no where to be found when the girl most needs her.
Similar to the book, the purpose of screening Regent Park youth films was to provide a forum where young people can express their feelings about their lives and challenge negative sterotypes that people have about low-income communities. Regent Park Focus aired a hour of RPTV episodes about the community and the issues that young people are concerned about. Following the screening a Q and A was held and members of the audience asked a variety of questions about the topics and issues that were featured in the films. One retired teacher in the audience formerly taught at Lord Dufferin school and had nothing but good things to say about her experiences in Regent Park. Everyone seemed to enjoy the screening and because there were many unfilled seats - Regent Park Focus was invited back by the organizers to do a repeat screening for local schools.
After the screening, Focus was invited to dinner and then taken on an arts crawl. The arts crawl was a guided tour of the different galleries and arts organizations in the James Street area of downtown Hamilton. Who knew that Hamilton had such a vibrant arts scene. Tyrone said that the arts crawl showed him a side of Hamilton he hadn't seen before and wasn't expecting. While touring the arts scene we came across a street full of crowded cafes and live music. All the staff wanted Adonis to rent a couple of hotel rooms and stay over night. Unfortunately this was not in the cards (budget) and the group ended taking the last 11:30 pm bus home. Sorry maybe next time.
Have any of you guys been to Hamilton? What kind of Hamilton do you know?
I didn't actually attend the event, and have never really hung out in Hamilton. To be honest, I wasn't really expecting to hear of such an inclusive scene there. If you check artshamilton.ca in their associates links section, you'll see a huge list of people and organizations involved in the Hamilton arts community. I guess it's no Youtube, but you might want to check it out.
Don't forget to check out the book, Looking for X. Its a kids book but its a great read.