Victoria looking to expand busking spots, though some performers say they weren’t notified

Victoria looking to expand busking spots, though some performers say they weren’t notified
CHEK

The City of Victoria is inviting buskers to audition to perform at new performance locations this summer, but some performers claim they weren’t notified of the opportunity in time.

Following the end of the popular Victoria International Buskers Festival in 2016, and the end of the city’s counterpart – the Downtown Victoria Buskers Festival, in 2019 – the city is trying to enhance downtown street performances.

Audition dates for buskers were recently sent out to licensed performers informing them of the opportunity to perform at new “elevated busking locations.”

“We are doing some juried busking stops this summer on elevated busking areas downtown…this is part of our downtown program to really improve the experience downtown this summer,” said Arts, Culture, and Event manager Nichola Reddington.

On June 14 and 17, performers will be judged by a panel and will be receive a $50 compensation. Winners will be able to perform at “four to six” locations, which includes Ship Point.

“I was one of the last people to get in on the second day,” said Dave Harris.

After performing on the streets of Victoria for more than 40 years, Harris says he was disappointed to not receive an email from the city.

“I actually had to email the city to find out about it, which was really disappointing to me cause I was part of the committee that kind of spearheaded this pilot last fall,” he said,

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When asked, Reddington told CHEK News that an email was sent out to all their licensed buskers in the spring.

Harris was able to secure a spot, but remains worried for other buskers who weren’t as lucky. He chalks up the communication mishap to growing pains as this is the first year the pilot program is launching.

“Busking has declined terribly over the seven or eight, 10 years, you know, for a lot of reasons. Lot of restaurants have canned music, making it harder to find spots, the pandemic, people not carrying cash as much,” said the artist.

“Other buskers that I spoke with were unaware of this too. Not all of them, but at least a couple of key ones that have been busking for many years.”

In light of increased interest, the city says it’s added a third audition day for July 17 and is inviting other performers to email them to see if there could be extra accommodations.

Reddington says this program may not stick, but will be used as feedback for the city to update its Street Entertainment Bylaw.

“It’s been 12 years since we’ve updated the Street Entertainment bylaw. It’s long overdue for us to see how we could improve the experience….this is a great opportunity through the Downtown Revitalization Program to see where we can make improvements,” she said.

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