Local News

Supercrawl Funding Splits Council

Councillors were split evenly along urban/suburban lines for yesterday's Supercrawl funding request.

By Michael Black
Published March 08, 2013

this article has been updated

A vote at yesterday's general issues committee meeting by Hamilton city Councillors on the funding of Supercrawl, an annual downtown arts and music event, resulted in a tie vote that will now postpone the decision until the next Council meeting, where it may be reversed.

According to the city clerks' office, the vote breakdown was as follows:

Crowds filled James Street North for Supercrawl 2012 (RTH file photo)
Crowds filled James Street North for Supercrawl 2012 (RTH file photo)

Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla was disappointed in the result.

"I think it's unfortunate that we made a decision that I believe is very regressive in nature," said Merulla. "What we have in the city of Hamilton is an opportunity to build upon Supercrawl and its success from a branding perspective, from a coast-to-coast basis."

In 2010, Supercrawl saw an estimated 20,000 unique visitors. That grew to 80,000 in 2012. Last year, organizers requested $100,000 from council and were granted $60,000; this year they are requesting $125,000.

"For that coast-to-coast rebranding of this city as a vibrant, hip community, the cost of $125,000 for an event that brings in tens of thousands of people, that is an investment, not a cost," Merulla stated. "I am very disillusioned."

Mark Furukawa is the owner of Dr. Disk in downtown Hamilton and was shocked that the motion for funding did not pass.

"There are all these intangible benefits to promoting arts and culture, even getting way from the money aspect of it," said Furukawa. "It's a healthy indicator of the mental state of a particular population, I would not want to live in an area that did not actively support arts and culture."

"This council is hopefully going to see the light, and I think they are going to okay the funding, I don't think that's an issue," said Furukawa. "Just the fact that it had to go to the second round of debate before council, to me it is mind-boggling."

Merulla expects that council will pass the motion for funding once they resume talks on the 20th.

"Once we get the full council there of sixteen, I'm confident we will get the nine votes to move forward on it."

This article was first published on Michael Black's website.

See also:

Update: updated to include the recorded vote tally provided by the city clerks' office. You can jump to the added paragraph.

Michael Black is a print and media journalist and a soon to be graduate of the Mohawk College 3-year Print and Broadcast Journalism program. You can visit his website.


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By Kiely (registered) | Posted March 08, 2013 at 14:50:01

Get your crap together Supercrawl organizers you can't be given an exception every time. Cities should not just hand out money through council votes with no explanation or expectation of where that money is going. Seriously, put aside all bias and love for the event and think about what they are asking for. I want to hire a bunch of bands to play my street can I have $125,000? What if I can convince Bernie to support me?

Supercrawl is great but I have to agree with what Lloyd Ferguson said to Jason Farr:

"You are being reckless here, just plain reckless here, to run out and throw $125,000 out without statements, without understanding their structure, without meeting the timeline, without providing their vision like everybody else has to do."

The Pearl Co. doesn't need to apply for building permits. Supercrawl organizers don't feel they need to apply for funding the way everyone else does. Bicycles shouldn't have traffic laws enforced against them.

See a pattern here? I do.

If this was say the Hamilton Airshow seeking funding in this way would RTH support that?

Comment edited by Kiely on 2013-03-08 14:50:16

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted March 09, 2013 at 05:40:54 in reply to Comment 87142

I will disagree with this. Festivals that attract outside visitors and boost economic activity are typically worthwhile investments. It generates exposure and attracts investment to have a city/area that lays claim to frequent events.

Just keep in mind, I would be just as supportive of a Grey Cup bid/festival as I am for this, even though I know there are a lot on this site who would disagree with that.

What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Comment edited by -Hammer- on 2013-03-09 05:42:00

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By Dane (registered) | Posted March 08, 2013 at 21:49:30 in reply to Comment 87142

Economic Development was provided audit financial statements

The event since its inception reports to the City's SEAT committee every year

Ferguson is not accurate, in any way. Each of his statements are false. Audited statement - yes Timeline - not sure what he means but Council has discussed this already, at a meeting that Ferguson attended where McCab spoke to the funding and the rational. It was differed twice. Vision - yes, again provided. You can't make Ferguson read information (horse to water...)

Supercrawl has gone above and beyond any other festival to consult and acquire - then provide information.

The funding situation is very messed up, which is why a new funding model for all arts and culture institutions, events and individuals is being purposed. Though it will likely be doomed to dim members of Council.

What should be done is that events should be judged on their merits and outcomes. The AirShow for example doesn't measure up to Supercrawl. Could it, for sure.

Comment edited by Dane on 2013-03-08 21:51:23

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By J (registered) | Posted March 08, 2013 at 17:50:59 in reply to Comment 87142

is the pattern that the city is diverting a drop of the bucket of money they usually rubberstamp into funding vacuums for projects that will actually generate growth?

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted March 08, 2013 at 18:04:02 in reply to Comment 87161

for projects that will actually generate growth?

Prove it.

Sure, it generates revenue, no doubt. But growth??? I seriously doubt people are going to move here based on a one day event. Takes more than that.

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By serious doubts (anonymous) | Posted March 09, 2013 at 15:39:51 in reply to Comment 87162

ya, ya. we all know that there's lots that you "seriously doubt" from behind your anonymous internet account. so what is it that you do in the real world that makes your contributions so much more valuable than those who get involved with actual tangible progressive things (like supercrawl for example)?

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By adrian (registered) | Posted March 09, 2013 at 00:39:42 in reply to Comment 87162

Sure, it generates revenue, no doubt. But growth??? I seriously doubt people are going to move here based on a one day event. Takes more than that.

If you want to people to move to your community and invest in your community, you have to get them to visit your community first.

I'm involved with a project to revitalize the economic prospects of a small Ontario town (Goderich) and they are very focused on attracting tourists as the first step along this continuum. Our client understands that to attract residents and businesses, people first have to be able to see themselves having a life there. There is no better way to do that than to get people there and show them a good time.

An event that brings 20,000 external visitors to the city is pure gold from an economic development perspective, especially when the event is on the street and not inside a single venue. These visitors have an experience that feels fresh, real and genuinely Hamiltonian. I'd be willing to bet money that there will be businesses here whose principals say, "I didn't realize what Hamilton was like until I came to Supercrawl." Hamilton should bet money too- it's not a risky gamble.

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By J (registered) | Posted March 09, 2013 at 00:32:23 in reply to Comment 87162

you've got the wrong idea of growth. Economically there are free-riders and contributors. Growth means contributing to the local economy, whether the results are permanent or not. When you are Pareto efficient you create multiplier effects: Supercrawl pays people directly, but it also gets people to spend their money locally. The costs in contrast are fairly negligible - basically the value of moneys people are diverting from other sources into Supercrawl. Thus they create growth.

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By Dane (registered) | Posted March 08, 2013 at 21:53:02 in reply to Comment 87162

I know people who have mentioned it as an influence. I would hope that its one of many influences.

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted March 08, 2013 at 15:31:51 in reply to Comment 87142

If this was say the Hamilton Airshow seeking funding in this way would RTH support that?

I don't speak for the whole site, but Yes. Cultural events, airshows, Festival of Friends, Ti-Cats pep rallies, street festivals, etc, are all the things that should get funding from the city. These are the things I like seeing my taxes go towards.

Edit That being said, FoF has to submit an audited budget, I believe, when they ask for funding. I assume, and hope, that Supercrawl is held to the same standard.

Comment edited by mrgrande on 2013-03-08 15:34:39

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted March 08, 2013 at 16:56:56 in reply to Comment 87146

Edit That being said, FoF has to submit an audited budget, I believe, when they ask for funding. I assume, and hope, that Supercrawl is held to the same standard.

That's all I'm saying. The city isn't the "petty cash" dispenser for Cultural events.

So your actual answer would be NO you don't agree with anyone else seeking funding this way?

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By Dane (registered) | Posted March 08, 2013 at 21:54:53 in reply to Comment 87156

Why is the assumption that Supercrawl hasn't provided this information? Because Ferguson says so?

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By Desmond (anonymous) | Posted March 08, 2013 at 15:45:13

Supercrawl should provide the proper paperwork and backup, the same as all others have to do.

With that paperwork the funding is sure to come based on its success.

Without it there is the large possibility that shenanigans occur and everyone in the future says "how did we let this happen?"

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By Mark (registered) | Posted March 09, 2013 at 04:56:28 in reply to Comment 87151

You must mean proper paperwork mike this...


...Which was provided well in advance when we followed the procedure asked of us by city staff due to the fact that their current method of funding is antiquated and in the process of being changed.

If councillor Ferguson were as organized as we are he wouldn't be making false statements that, in my opinion, warrant public apology.

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By Mark (registered) | Posted March 09, 2013 at 05:08:04 in reply to Comment 87184

Full disclosure I also work (volunteer) for Supercrawl.

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By margaret (anonymous) | Posted March 08, 2013 at 15:58:10

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By Dane (registered) | Posted March 08, 2013 at 22:00:36 in reply to Comment 87153

They have contributed their own money during its growth but I believe the City of Hamilton, reaping benefits, should contribute at level that takes in to context the location, scale and reach.

Comment edited by Dane on 2013-03-08 22:04:06

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted March 12, 2013 at 17:52:40 in reply to Comment 87174

"The organization received $50,000 sponsorship revenue from Sonic Unyon Records, Inc (a corporation owned by two board of directors). Fees for contract services of $3,946 and premises rent of $1,000 were also paid to Sonic Unyon Records, Inc."


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By casting the nets? (anonymous) | Posted March 08, 2013 at 19:22:37 in reply to Comment 87153

And what have YOU done for us lately, anonymous margaret? You seem to have the kind of generous demeanor that indicates you toil tirelessly for the good of the city day in and day out with little reward. Damned parasites!

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted March 08, 2013 at 18:10:09 in reply to Comment 87153

I actually agree with the first part of your statement, lies, damn lies and statistics after all... but the "parasite class???"

Yikes, I don't know where you're going with that. That is a mighty broad and really divisive label you're you're hanging on whom exactly?

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By Parasite class (anonymous) | Posted March 08, 2013 at 16:12:36 in reply to Comment 87153

Who are the parasite class? The thousands of young adults and students that are this city's future?

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By Peter Senior (anonymous) | Posted March 10, 2013 at 16:48:38 in reply to Comment 87155

Who are these people? What is their background? What have they done? They get almost all the same weight as the people who really count. It shocks me.

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By Cynic (anonymous) | Posted March 08, 2013 at 16:59:26

Let's be clear about what is happening here (Supercrawl) and in much the same way to Festival of Friends. These organization are seeing a huge increase i policing costs. Is the Festival of Friends or SuperCrawl so rowdy that a small army of police are required? I've been to both these events and am always amazed at the police presence.

It is in effect the Police Board that is allowing this nonsense to continue. I've been to both these events and I have had house parties with more violence and problems. If the police budget is greater than the talent budget your festival has a problem, yet that's what happening.

And no Parasite Class I don't think there are many of them on the police force.

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By poor police (anonymous) | Posted March 08, 2013 at 19:24:41 in reply to Comment 87157

the poor police need more money if they are going to successfully bust all of those scofflaw cyclists and concert goers!

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By Cynic (anonymous) | Posted March 08, 2013 at 20:18:56 in reply to Comment 87167

All except a surcharge (5%) is pocketed by the officers at overtime rates.
The surcharge is eaten up by 'admin' don't think this for a minute ends up in the police budget.

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted March 08, 2013 at 17:36:14

The Spec notes that "The money is proposed to come from a $1.7 million economic development fund." Tourism and Culture may be part of Economic Development, but they still have to contend with paperwork and protocol. If either or both of those have been set to one side, then festival organizers should view the tie vote as a coup. Things could certainly be worse.



Getting hard attendance numbers on a non-ticketed event like Supercrawl is a fool's errand but with folks like Councillor Farr able speak to the event's 2012 estimates (ie. 75,000-80,000 attendees over two days, 20,000 of them from outside Hamilton; $6 million economic impact), someone has obviously been tracking the event and doing the math, so they can't be too far from a business case. But in light of the city's zero-increase edict and the festival's historic funding at 60% of their ask, organizers are doubtless prepared for another five-figure outcome.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted March 08, 2013 at 20:35:47

They were given special funding last year, were they told that wouldn't happen again, that they needed a full application? If they were informed and didn't comply any funding roadblocks were self created.

I read that the extra is needed because they are going to have locations OFF of James, most likely at bayfront park. I don't agree with the expansion, they are going to destroy a good thing like Lieberman did with FoF by getting too big. Keep it a James Street festival only. Several venues will strip SC of it's relevance to the arts district.

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By Dane (registered) | Posted March 08, 2013 at 22:04:42

Full disclosure

I work on Supercrawl

edit: work=volunteering

Comment edited by Dane on 2013-03-08 22:42:37

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted March 08, 2013 at 22:10:46

Listening to McHattie on the radio, sounds like councillors are in favour of SUPERCRAWL, and that a the basis to fund such bigger cultural attractions needs to change.

Hamilton is becoming a bigger arts and cultural player, and needs to revamp how they are supported.

This is actually a good problem that should lead to an evolution in how the city supports the NEW HAMILTON (which is more than downtown) as our arts and culture identity grows.

This in turn does make Hamilton a more attractive place to live and visit.

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By Lemongrad (anonymous) | Posted March 08, 2013 at 22:29:40

Hypothetically speaking, is it possible that there might be a creative and innovative solution for sustainable arts funding that does not involve government?

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By J (registered) | Posted March 09, 2013 at 01:15:19

I'm stunned there are people hating on Supercrawl. I'm a hugely bitter person who hates government misspending, but here we have an event that brings people into the city who would never otherwise come, who every year take note of all the amazing changes the city is in the middle of, who spend money to eat and stay while they're here, and people are hating on $125,000???? $125,000 is 1/10th the cost of painting a line down the street on Caroline. It's the cost of building a berm in a park. There was a receptionist on the sunshine list last year who made more than that!!

Seriously, they would have Supercrawl in Ayn Rand's weird libertarian architect utopia. The only reason it needs funding is because there is no way to harness the amazing value it creates.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted March 09, 2013 at 19:10:36 in reply to Comment 87181

The receptionist on the Sunshine list made it there as a result a special payment. Rumour has it either wrongful dismissal or harassment, rumour also has it the receptionist worked in the councillors office.

Now there's a story for an enterprising investigative journalist!!

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 09, 2013 at 03:26:57 in reply to Comment 87181


I'd like these suburban councillors to share their ideas by which they can bring 70,000 people to James North; 20,000 from out of town, for less than $120,000.

Please keep in mind, this is the same street that it's own councillor declared dead in the 90's. Back then you could have delayed a council meeting for hours with roaring laughter by suggesting that 70,000 people would be strolling and enjoying James North from all over Southern Ontario and of all ages/walks of life.

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted March 09, 2013 at 01:56:46

Selling naming rights can provide a one-time injection of funds. For example:

• Art Gallery of Hamilton CIBC Wood Gundy World Film Festival
• TD Festival of Friends (née Westjet Festival of Friends)
• RBC Aquafest


There is also federal funding available for arts-based festivals.



The City's 2013 Advance Payments to External Boards and Agencies (FCS12101) gives you an idea of what various bodies are getting what kind of funding. Three in the Supercrawl range (2012 funding):

• Festival of Friends (est 1976): $85,270
• Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra (est 1949): $113,700
• Opera Hamilton (est 1980): $126,930


History suggests that the City funds risk-averse operations.

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By Margaret (anonymous) | Posted March 09, 2013 at 14:02:09

Let me apologise to those of us who were offended by "parasite class"Thanks to all for having a real and open exchange of thoughts and ideas about things that are not reported accuratly in MSM.Of course this event needs a boost in funding,but double?Why ruin a wonderful event by turning it into something else?My husband I attended twice last year and it was Great!Thanks to all.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted March 10, 2013 at 23:47:33 in reply to Comment 87190

Let me apologise to those whom I offended by "parasite class"


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By DrAwesomesauce (registered) | Posted March 11, 2013 at 01:52:16 in reply to Comment 87199

The dreaded passive voice strikes again - subtle but effective.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted March 11, 2013 at 01:43:25

There still seems to be the divide between urban and suburban. I hate it, I don't understand it, it lacks common sense. It is a wonderful festival, it's a tiny amount compared to the amount wasted yearly and as previously said, we need to do more to help all festivals/events that bring outsiders into the city and entertain both the outsiders and Hamiltonians. Frustrating, I think I've said that before.

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted March 11, 2013 at 15:13:48 in reply to Comment 87200

The split happens all the time, aided by ward boundaries defined by the 100-meter escarpment face. (If it's any consolation, it happened before amalgamation as well.)

FWIW, Supercrawl's own 2012 attendee survey demonstrates a similar split. 75% of attendees were thought to have come from inside the GHA; 61% of GHA attendees came from Wards 1-4, 3% from Dundas and 5% from Stoney Creek, making for 69% of GHA attendees (or roughly 52% of total attendance) coming from below the escarpment.

Fingers crossed for the next round.

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted March 11, 2013 at 13:01:02

"The Spectator's View: Don't bypass funding process for Supercrawl" by Lee Prokaska on the spec.com today: http://www.thespec.com/opinion/editorial...

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted March 12, 2013 at 18:21:03


“Tourism provides an annual economic impact to Hamilton of approximately $152.3 M. and employs over 2,700 people in tourism-related jobs.”



71 meetings & conventions hosted in Hamilton in 2009 with:
• estimated 21,547 contracted rooms
• estimated 31,878 delegates in attendance
• estimated economic impact of $16,962,485

106 sporting events took place in Hamilton in 2009 and were serviced, providing
• estimated 12,153 contracted hotel rooms,
• estimated attendance of 81,353,
• estimated economic impact of $26,551,935



“Tourism is an integral industry in Hamilton, producing $132 million in economic impact annually and employing 2,300 residents in the local hospitality sector.”


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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted March 12, 2013 at 18:45:47 in reply to Comment 87216

2011 Forecasts:

City-wide Conventions: 8
Hotel room nights: 20,575
Meetings: 80
Number of Delegates: 10,287
Economic Impact of Meetings and Conventions: $9 million

Sport Events: 90
Hotel room nights: 17,121
Number of Event Participants: 44,500
Economic Impact of Sport Events: $10 million


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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted March 12, 2013 at 19:08:11 in reply to Comment 87217

Tourism’s version of Rumsfeld’s “unknown unknowns”:

“A variety of methods ranging from pure guesswork to complex mathematical models are used to estimate tourism’s economic impacts: studies vary extensively in terms of quality and accuracy, and with respect to which aspects of tourism are included. Technical reports are often filled with economic jargon that noneconomists do not understand, while media coverage of such studies tends to oversimplify and misinterpret results. As a result, decision makers and the general public are left with a distorted or incomplete understanding of tourism’s economic


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By ted danson (anonymous) | Posted March 15, 2013 at 20:23:53

FYI, a more neutral take can be found here:


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By Ratzenberger (anonymous) | Posted March 17, 2013 at 02:10:08 in reply to Comment 87263

Admirably level. (As tenants of a Supercrawl landlord, they might have taken a bit of stick over their promotional ramp-up to the 2012 festival.)

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