C/O @havnode

The closing of HAVN’s physical location is not the end for the artist-run collective and DIY space

Since the pandemic lockdown began in March, people have been wondering how small businesses and artists will cope. Across the country and around the world, all of them have worked to adapt to the new circumstances as best as they can, from moving shops, programs and exhibitions online to conducting virtual concerts. However, despite these efforts, a number of venues have still been forced to close their doors. The Hamilton Audio Visual Node is among them.

HAVN began in spring 2012, inspired by Temporary Projects, a gallery and artist workspace operating in the Sonic Unyon building. After Temporary Projects concluded and through a series of fortunate circumstances, HAVN opened up on Barton Street East, where it has maintained its warm and welcoming space for artists over the past eight years. 

“As a group of young artists with a space to call our own, we immediately joined in with the energy of the street — hosting live music shows, art exhibits and using the space as an art studio and jam space . . . In the beginning, this was a strong exhibitory feature of HAVN, a marriage of sound, video, projection and interactivity through art installation in the gallery. It was a lovable grind to produce an exhibit monthly on Art Crawl for almost eight years. A part of the joy of HAVN was the constant transformation of the space using materials, technology and the incredible ideas and talents of resident and visiting artists,” commented the members of HAVN.

The use of ‘node’ in HAVN’s acronym is fitting because an integral tenet of the artist-run collective is to foster connection. Whether it be connections between different aspects of the arts and artists’ experiences or encouraging a sense of connection in Hamilton at large, HAVN’s space and programming have always reflected the importance of community and collaboration.

“We believe strongly in the value of moving away from individualism in practice and the value of non-competitive working relationships. The knowledge that can be acquired through working together, learning from each other and skill-sharing is rewarding and motivating. Ultimately, we hope our experience with HAVN can help people starting out to feel empowered to carve out their own space and believe in their own abilities to create something special,” wrote the HAVN members.

Ultimately, we hope our experience with HAVN can help people starting out to feel empowered to carve out their own space and believe in their own abilities to create something special,” wrote the HAVN members.

Prior to the pandemic, HAVN had been developing a new plan for their space, with a greater focus on community-oriented programming. Unfortunately, the lockdown forced them to put the plan on hold and now due to the closure of their physical location that plan will no longer go forward.

The decision to close HAVN’s physical location was driven largely by financial factors. Some members had their income reduced or lost their jobs entirely, making paying rent increasingly difficult.

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“It no longer made responsible financial sense for us to pay for a space that is not able to be used sufficiently,” added the members of HAVN.

Additionally, HAVN’s physical location has presented problems for physical distancing. While some individuals and small groups have continued to use HAVN as a workspace throughout the pandemic, the size of the space makes physical distancing difficult and greatly limits the ability to safely gather, exhibit artwork and host performances.

The closing of HAVN’s doors is not the end for this artist-run group. Members of the gallery remain positive and eagerly look forward to new opportunities to continue creating art and fostering community. 

The closing of HAVN’s doors is not the end for this artist-run group. Members of the gallery remain positive and eagerly look forward to new opportunities to continue creating art and fostering community. 

“It’s definitely not the end! HAVN is more than a space . . . we will be back in some way, shape or form, activating new spaces when there is a safe way to do so, finding new ways to maintain community, show art and collaborate . . . We hope there will be more opportunities and possibilities after COVID and we are excited to see what those will be.”

HAVN’s last day at their 26 Barton St. E location will be Sept. 30, 2020.

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