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New 'Airbnb for artists' sets up shop in Hamilton

A service that connects artists and musicians with prospective rehearsal and performance space is now running in Hamilton.

Spacefinder already running in Toronto, New York and more

Spacefinder's new service in Hamilton lets musicians, dancers and artists find places to work and rehearse. (Adam Carter/CBC)

Here's the thing about being an artist – it's not always easy to find a place to do what you love.

Painters need a place to throw paint around, musicians need somewhere to crank their amps and dancers need ample room to perfect choreography.

- Jeremy Freiburger, Cobalt Connects.

With new service Spacefinder now running Hamilton, finding space to do just that is about to become easier, says Jeremy Freiburger from Cobalt Connects.

"No one gets excited about waking up and figuring out a place to do their art," Freiburger said. "They're concerned about making art."

"This service is a maturation of Hamilton's arts and culture scene."

Colbalt Connects is the local point alongside New York organization Fractured Atlas, which launched the so-called "Airbnb for artists" in New York back in 2011. The city is also kicking in $5,000 to fund the project.

Here's how it works. Artists of all stripes can just go to the Hamilton Spacefinder website, and select the type of space they're looking for from a list of options like performance, rehearsal, video shoots, audio recording and more.

Then, after plugging in search parameters for location and price points, users can select from a list of venues that meet their needs, like Mills Hardware, The Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts and more.

The site is live now, and about 25 different venues have signed up for the service to date. Freiburger says the goal is to have about 100 venues signed up for a full launch in September. It's free for artists to search on the site, and free for spaces to advertise.

Already in use

The service is a marked improvement from trolling sites like Kijiji looking for studio space – considering now artists can do it in a one stop shop at home in their underwear, Freiburger says.

People are already using the site, as both the Player's Guild of Hamilton and McMaster University's Live Lab have both received bookings through Spacefinder.

Some gaps with the service remain, as many spaces don't yet use the online calendar and booking features, which would make Spacefinder a real one-stop shop. Freiburger says he hopes to have most places on board with those features come September.

"The city needs this," Freiburger said. "We want to make sure that artists of any means have access to a continuum of space."

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