Tim Potocic has the job of being one of the main organizers of Supercrawl, and it’s a huge task for a huge event. Last year, 50,000 people attended the festival, and this year’s expected attendance was around 75 000.
Planning Supercrawl for so many people was a year-long job for Potocic. And as that year of organizing was whittled down until just one week was left before the event, the panic set in.
“I had late nights that weekend before, as well as Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,” said Potocic. “It’s pretty panicked. I wish we were more organized.”
After Thursday, Potocic’s experience planning Supercrawl starts to sound more familiar to any student who has left a massive assignment until the day before it’s due.
“When I got up on Friday it was full-on,” said Potocic. “I didn’t get home until seven in the morning on Sunday, and I only slept for two hours on Friday night. And that’s the way it is. You just run on adrenaline because you know there’s an end. We know the street has to open up at 8 o’clock on Sunday morning.”
Even by forgoing sleep, Potocic didn’t really get to see much of the festival he was responsible for.
“This is the first year I’ve actually been able to catch one set of one band,” said Potocic. “I saw Change of Heart. They are reuniting to do very few shows, so I needed to see it.”
Before Change of Heart and the huge crowds, Supercrawl began four years ago as something much smaller. Potocic has been there since the very beginning of the idea.
As one of the founders of the Sonic Unyon record label, located just off James Street North, Potocic has always been part of the monthly Art Crawl, but he wanted the event to grow, to really push it and see what it could do.
“We got a big group of people together, there was at least 20 people in a room,” said Potocic. “We said that we wanted to close the street, because we thought it should be closed anyway during the regular monthly art crawls, even at that point in time, and we thought, let’s try to do a street festival. That was literally in June. Then everyone sat around and was like, ‘Yeah, it’s a cool idea.’ And we had twelve weeks to plan it, which is not enough time.”
With the initial plans approved by the city, the next problem was deciding what to call the event.
“We were batting names around, and I was like, ‘Well, its going to be super! Let’s call it Supercrawl,’” said Potocic. “It’s a dumb name, really. We’re specialists in dumb names, so it kind of fits. I mean, Sonic Unyon is a weird, dumb name.”
So with the name decided, the organizers rushed to get everything else finished under the impossibly tight timeline of a couple of months. Instead of happening in September, like the other Supercrawls, the first was pushed to October to give the organizers more time. And when that time was up, Potocic and the other organizers prayed they would be lucky with the one thing they couldn’t plan.
“It poured rain,” said Potocic. “But we still had thousands of people out with umbrellas, and we were like, ‘Huh, thousands of people came out and it was pouring rain, so clearly there’s a need for a street closure festival style-thing, so let’s start working on 2010 right now.’”
Since then, planning future Supercrawls has taken all year, and that means Potocic hasn’t really been able to catch his breath even though this year’s event has just ended.
“I’ve already had two conversations with two agencies that are good friends of mine about what we’re going to do next year,” said Potocic. “We’ll really need to have our wish-list of top five acts that we’re looking at to headline potential stages locked in before the end of the year.”
Though Potocic is responsible for organizing the big stuff, that’s only part of what allows Supercrawl to happen because, ultimately, the whole James Street North community is involved.
“That’s the key to making Supercrawl and art crawl and James Street North as amazing and vibrant as it is, because it is a community initiative,” said Potocic. “We do a lot of community outreach to make sure that we’re not taking liberties that we shouldn’t. I mean, there will always be critics, but we try our best to reach out with the limited staffing and resources we have to run something like this.”
Next week, part two of this article will look at what the critics are saying and Potocic’s response. Hint: it has to do with gentrification.