Hamilton Supercrawl organizers thrilled with 2012

Supercrawl organizers have their sights set on bigger venue for a ticketed event in 2013.
Supercrawl 2012's attendance well exceeded last year's numbers.


That's how organizer Tim Potocic describes his feeling about this year's Supercrawl.

"We spent an entire year planning it as we do every year," said Potocic, "and it's beautiful when everything aligns and the weather cooperates."

It would be even better if the festival could break even, however.   This year's event cost "in and around" $300,000, said Potocic.

That may sound reasonable, if not cheap. But Potocic points out that no one is getting paid.

"We run on a shoestring budget," he said. "There's also a large deficit our company covers."

The money comes from three main sources: grants, sponsors and the city.  Potocic said that the budget breaks down generally into thirds: "one-third from sponsors, one third from grants and a little less than a third from the city."

They pay the city back a "little more than half of that money," however, said Potocic, referring to expenses such as paying the police and road closure fees, among other costs.

The city invests about $60,000 in Supercrawl, said Jacqueline Norton, a business consultant with the City of Hamilton's economic and real estate division.

Though she admitted that a chunk of that investment then goes back into city coffers through the payment of road closure fees and the police, among other incidentals.

Norton couldn't say what city council will do in terms of its investment in future. But she's aware that the organizers have "bigger and better plans for next year."

In terms of revenue, the festival made approximately $250,000, said Potocic, with the bulk of the revenue coming from "vendors and the beer garden."


While official numbers aren't yet in on the number of people who attended this year's event, Potocic feels confident that the number well exceeded last year's number of 50,000.

Sgt. Terri-lynn Collings said police are holding a meeting Tuesday night with organizers to discuss attendance. Official numbers should be released Wednesday morning, she added. 

Dane Pedersen, who organized the art component of the multidisciplinary festival, measured the event's success in personal ways.

He evaluated it by the "smiling faces," by the out-of-town artists who were "blown away" by the experience, and by "the number of times" he had to ask kids "to stop climbing on the sculptures because they're having so much fun," said Pedersen.

By that standard it was "overwhelmingly positive."

"Our mandate was to put out art that made an impact. I think we accomplished that. I think we mesmerized people, " added Pedersen.

Businesses, retailers weigh in on Supercrawl

For retailers and local businesses the value of the festival is measured individually. Potocic said that when the festival started local business response was "mixed" but that now most business are on board.

He admits, though, that not every business is going to benefit from the event.   "It doesn't improve everyone's business. It affects them negatively too. Regular customers may not want to deal with the crowds," he said.

Filled to "capacity all day" the Mulberry Cafe chose to shut down at 11:30 p.m on Saturday night, said assistant manager Tom Shepherd. The reason: staff was exhausted.

"We served as many people as we could. A really big day for us in terms of new customers."

"It was an overwhelming success," said Dionysus Passarelli, assistant manager of the AGH Design Annex. "The exposure was fantastic, but it was also great to see people having so much fun."

Passarelli said the two-and-a-half-month-old space saw more than 12,500 people come through its doors on Friday and Saturday (he did a clicker count.)

Sales were good too. No one was lugging home any large pieces but they sold a lot of portable items — things you can "put in your purse or bag."

Supercrawl isn't "a huge moneymaker," admits Mark Furukawa, owner of Dr. Disc, who said they have to staff up and there are various overhead costs associated with the event. "If we break even we're happy," he said.

For Furukawa, the benefit is the exposure. "The benefit is in the volume of people." Moreover, he values being identified so closely with the local music scene.

How businesses make the most of the event is part of the festival's growth curve, however. Furukawa said that this year the idea to create a standalone marketplace didn't pan out as well as he'd initially hoped. "We didn't get as much traffic," he said, adding "people don't come to [Supercrawl] to shop."

Next year he'll try and be more in the thick of the action, closer to the stages, he said. He's not complaining though.

"I'm happy to continue to tweak the formula."

So is Potocic.

The goal going forward for him: to "get sponsor revenue up and get value up for sponsors."

That may figure into how Supercrawl 2013 shakes out. One of the options organizers are mulling is creating one large-scale ticketed event and adding a day to boost revenue.

"We'll keep 90 per cent of the festival free but we'll have one ticketed event."

Potocic is also considering extending the borders of the event to include the waterfront. He said he's considering talking to the city about running shuttle service to the waterfront and adding a stage there too.

"It's a great setting and would add another element."