In what David Rand, board chair for the Victoria International Buskers Festival, describes as a “stunt,” the Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) has announced its intention to run a second buskers festival this summer.
“It seems like just a stunt by their new executive director, Kerri Milton,” said Rand. “It’s silly and it isn’t going to do anyone any good, least of all the people of Victoria.”
Rand characterized the situation as a bizarre and unfair action.
Earlier this week, the business association announced its intention to operate “a new festival” — an event dubbed the Downtown Victoria Buskers Festival. In a press release issued Tuesday, the association described the event as a six-day festival to be held from July 11 to 16 with stages in downtown Victoria.
“We are proud to bring more animation to downtown Victoria with the addition of the Downtown Victoria Buskers Festival,” said Milton in the release.
“We anticipate several days of dynamic performances in downtown Victoria.”
The Victoria International Buskers Festival, which began in 2010, has been scheduled to take place from July 14 to 23, also in various spots around downtown Victoria.
For Rand, the move by the business association is more than unfair.
“For six years we’ve worked very hard to bring Victoria what has grown to be the number one festival in the region. We are internationally recognized as one of the best festivals of this kind, anywhere. And that’s not to mention the fact we’ve managed to provide a huge boost to tourism and a family-friendly event for the people of greater Victoria,” said Rand. “Why the DVBA is working against us is puzzling at best.”
John Vickers, the executive director of the international buskers festival and the driving force behind Victoria’s Kite Festival and Chalk Art Festival, is saddened by the business association’s actions.
“For them to say they are simply running their own festival, adding to what exists is just nonsense. They are running in the same location and at the same time as our festival, and have even gone so far as using our ideas and some of our terminology,” said Vickers.
“Their press release cites the installation of “busk stops” around downtown during their festival. That’s a term I picked up in Australia and it’s something we’ve had for six years. Let’s stop kidding people.”
The business association did not respond to repeated requests for interviews by the Victoria News.
Jim Zeeben of Tourism Victoria, whose logo appears on Tuesday’s press release regarding the new buskers festival, referred only to a Oct. 12 press release which refers to a “new strategy that will improve accountability and better ensure long-term sustainability of major events in Victoria.”
He acknowledged the strategy was a collaborative effort of the business association, Tourism Victoria, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, and the Hotel Association of Greater Victoria.
Rand believes the resources of the business association and their partners could have been better directed.
“We’ve always tried to work in collaboration with the DVBA and the others listed on the top of (the) press release, but they didn’t give us any warning or indication they were planning this stunt,” he said.
“We have always supported cooperation between all the groups, but cooperation isn’t just stealing something we’ve built over six years and calling it your own.”