It’s well appreciated the role that arts and culture play in the renewal of Hamilton and how important the sector is to the local economy. But that hasn’t always been the case. In 1959, an exhibition of paintings and sculptures purchased by the City to be housed at the new City Hall was heavily criticized by the public who didn’t quite get the modernist movement. Then-mayor Lloyd Jackson said: “The people of this city have made it abundantly clear that they want no part of this modern art… We can’t let the arty crowd run things.” The City then backed out of its promise to purchase and display the selected artworks at the new building. When it came time to create an online community that connects art lovers, artists and creatives of all genres, and arts and culture organizations from across the Greater Hamilton Area and Six Nations of the Grand River, the Hamilton Arts Council decided to reclaim “the arty crowd” insult, turn it into a unifying force and The Arty Crowd – along with Le Groupe Arti (to serve the local Francophone and Francophile community) was born. In its first six months of operation, The Arty Crowd website has attracted more than 70,000 views, and has 700 account holders. Art lovers are able to find events and connect with artists, while creatives of all genres and arts organizations are able to create profiles, build audiences and share their work. Arts opportunities and arts employment openings are also available on the site. The site includes features such as tags and pins to allow users to curate their experience. The best part is that creating an account on The Arty Crowd is free for art lovers, artists and smaller arts organizations alike, so what are you waiting for? Head on over to theartycrowd.ca and get arty.