Province pledges $500K to make Supercrawl bigger and better

The Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport announced $19 million in support for festivals around Ontario including Hamilton's Supercrawl on Sept. 8 to 10.
"Overflows" is one of several art installations that ran in 2016 Supercrawl. (Adam Carter/CBC)

The province announced Monday it's giving downtown Hamilton's marquee music event a big boost: more than $540,000 toward Supercrawl, split between this year and next. 

Eleanor McMahon, Ontario's tourism minister, announced the grants are part of a $19 million investment in 304 festivals and events across the province this year.

The province's money goes into Supercrawl's $1.2 million budget for this year, which draws also from city and federal government grants, private sponsors and onsite revenues. 

"Supercrawl has been an important event not just here in Hamilton, but the entire country," McMahon said at an announcement at Mills Hardware, a music and events venue on King Street East.

"People can come to Hamilton and have this tremendous experience and maybe, just maybe they think, 'My gosh, I'd like to live here, look at the great arts and culture scene they have,'" she said. "People want to live in places that have it going on," McMahon said.

The province is also granting $462,000 to the Sound of Music Festival in Burlington and $100,000 to the Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls. 

Ontario tourism minister Eleanor McMahon and Supercrawl co-founder Tim Potocic walk together after the ministry announced it will grant $544,750 to Supercrawl this year. (Jeff Costen)

Other Hamilton events receiving funding include: 

  • Dundas International Buskerfest
  • 2017 Summer Arts Festival
  • FrancoFEST2017
  • Because Beer
  • Artsfest Waterdown

Begun in 2009, Supercrawl has grown from a one-day celebration into a weekend-long event welcoming upwards of 200,000 visitors.

According to Supercrawl, the 2016 festival had an economic impact of $14.5 million on the city. 

'We have really successful artists booked'

Tim Potocic, Supercrawl co-founder, said support from the province will bring new additions to Supercrawl in 2017 like stage enhancements, a local artist submission program and new eating areas.

"We're bringing … wider, deeper, taller stages," he said. 

The Supercrawl co-founder also said Supercrawl is trying to have two main stages to accommodate the bigger bands lined up for this year.

The Trews headlined the main stage Friday night at Supercrawl 2016, drawing crowds as far back as the Lister Block. (Adam Carter/CBC)

"[I'm] most excited about booking bigger bands," Potocic said. "They're already booked, can't talk about them yet … but we have a couple really commercially successful artists booked this year," he added.

While bigger bands are a draw, McMahon says local acts are just as important.

"Supercrawl offers people a chance to see home-grown acts that come and play," she said. "Not only does that give them an amazing platform to go on to do something else but it also allows the people of Hamilton to say, 'Hey! I know those guys, I saw them at my local pub' or 'I went to high school with that guy.'"

People want to live in places that have it going on.- Eleanor McMahon, Ontario minister of tourism.

Another new addition to Supercrawl will be a local artists submissions program. The program opened for submissions a month ago and will close March 31 with announcements being made in June according to Potocic. 

"We're looking at taking a block between Cannon and Robert Street and creating a more vibrant art zone out of that area [with] performance pieces, theatre, and bigger art installations," he explained.

One of the common complaints Potocic has heard about the festival is that people have nowhere to sit.

Potocic says Supercrawl is planning on addressing the issue by providing ample room to sit and enjoy meals from the local food trucks, but he didn't have specifics to offer Monday.