Festivals face series of challenges

Series of challenges has some festival organizers contemplating their future in the city.

Recent actions by the City of Victoria, Tourism Victoria, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) and the businesses on Government Street has some festival organizers contemplating their future in the city.

In late February, the city sent out letters to the festivals advising them the city-owned bleachers, which had originally been purchased for the 1994 Commonwealth  Games, had been deemed to be unsafe and had been sold.

The move left several festival organizers scrambling to make up the shortfall in seating.

Darryl Mar, the executive director of the Victoria International JazzFest is left wondering how his festival’s free concerts at Centennial Square will be accomodated.

“There wasn’t a lot of notice and we haven’t been able to source any replacement seating for those concerts. They didn’t consult with us or have any plans to replace them so I don’t know what we’re going to do at this point,” said Mar.

According to John Vickers, the driving force behind the International Buskers, Chalk Art and Kite Festivals, there are always challenges for festival organizers based on what he believes is a lack of appreciation for the benefits derived from the various festivals in Victoria.

“For years we brought tens of thousands of people down to Government Street for the Chalk Art Festival, yet we’ve never recieved anything but luke-warm support from the merchants there,” said Vikers. “This year we’re looking at relocating that festival to Ship Point. It’s a shame since I know we brought scores of potential customers to the businesses on the street.”

Vickers has also moved the Buskers stage from Government Street, citing a similar lack of support from merchants.

One merchant in the heart of the Government downtown core would only speak to Victoria News on the condition of anonymity.

“We need festivals in the shoulder seasons of April and October, not the summer when these festivals are happening. We already have tourists downtown during the summer and the festivals don’t give us much of a boost. If anything they may take people out of our stores,” she said.

Vickers’ flagship event, the International Buskers Festival, has also been impacted by the bleacher issue, but he said that this is only one of the challenges facing his events. This year the GVHA (Greater Victoria Harbour Authority) has reduced their support for the Buskers Festival, implementing a charge for the use of their land ( a net charge of about $3,000). Similarly, Tourism Victoria has reduced hotel sponsorship for the International Kite Festival, leaving the event with an additional $5,000 in costs.

“You have to remember these events are free to the public and contribute millions of dollars to the local economy,” said Vickers. “All of the festivals, mine and others, have managed to bring life to the downtown in a way nothing else has ever done. People say, ‘the cruise ships bring in tourists so who needs festivals’ but they don’t seem to realize that those ships have other options and the festivals are keeping Victoria on their radar.”

 

 

 

Just Posted

Victoria Fire Department advises cigarette safety after two fires started in one week

Two separate fires caused by cigarette butts were avoidable

VicPD faces ‘significant pressure’ following Victoria’s 2019 budget decision

Chief Const. Del Manak says council continues to micromanage his department

28 years later: Dunahee disappearance remains largest investigation in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

Saanich could become the new home of the world’s largest gnome

Galey Farms could find out Tuesday whether it will host the eight-metre-tall structure

Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Jr. B Cougars advance to both league finals and provincials

Victoria beats Nanaimo 4-3 in Game 6 Friday night to win series

Vancouver Island motorists attempted CPR on victim in fatal Highway 4 crash

Collision took place west of Whiskey Creek; man in his 70s died

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of March 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: When do you think the next major earthquake will hit Vancouver Island?

According to seismologists, Vancouver Island is overdue for a magnitude 7 earthquake.… Continue reading

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

B.C. driver caught going 207 km/h on motorcycle along Okanagan Highway

A motorcyclist was caught by Kelowna RCMP going 207 km/h on Highway 97C

Motorcyclist dies after three-vehicle crash on old Island Highway

Accident happened at 12:15 p.m. Friday near Country Club Centre in Nanaimo

Most Read