Hotels support busker festival for Victoria in July

The Greater Victoria Hotel Association has confirmed its commitment to house 20 buskers for all 10 nights of the inaugural International Buskers’ Festival in July.

“We want to see this succeed,” said Earl Wilde of the Victoria Regent Hotel, and past chair of the association. “We have a mandate to support festivals or events that will eventually put heads in beds … This to us is something we can hang our hats on.”

On Thursday, the 30-member association decided to also grant the festival $10,000. “We lose too many events,” Wilde said, pointing to the Royal B.C. Museum’s Terracotta Army exhibit, cancelled in October, and the Tall Ships Festival, cancelled in December largely due to a lack of corporate sponsorship.

The hotels’ sponsorship is the latest in a series of financial endorsements for the 10-day festival, despite it being brand new.

The City of Victoria and Downtown Victoria Business Association have pledged $8,000, and $3,500 respectively, plus in kind support. The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce will provide about $2,000 worth of in kind support.

The Bay Centre will provide space for the festival office and a stage in the foyer. Coca Cola will also sponsor the event, though its level of participation is under negotiation.

While the merchants along Government Street rejected plans to close the street to traffic during the festival, merchants at Bastion Square support the idea of closing Langley Street to host one of four main performance stages. Formal approval is pending.

Festival organizer John Vickers has personally approached more than 400 businesses.

“We have enough (financial support) in place now,” he said. He is seeking additional sponsorships in the form of stage-naming rights at a cost of $8,000, and $12,000 in advertising revenue.

Vickers plans to have 40 acts perform. Twelve acts have been booked from elsewhere, including Canada, the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and the U.K.

The festival will run July 15 to 24. For more information, please go online to www.victoriabuskers.com.

rholmen@vicnews.com