Cindy Jensen was stopped in her tracks whilst walking through an outdoor market in Thailand, mesmerised by four blind guys busking, back to back, playing ukuleles. She turned to her travelling companion and said she needed to bring that culture, colour, flavour and surprise back home to Australia and the flight home saw her write her plan on the back of a cereal box and there was no turning back!
Once home, she boldly presented the idea to the Gold Coast City Council in 2013 and by 2014 launched Australia's first busking festival with over 100 performance artists. After being named 'Live Music Event of the Year' in the 2015 Gold Coast Music Awards and later awarded 'Best New Event in Queensland' at the Australian Event Awards, it was clear the festival would be well and truly cemented into the country's annual event calendar.
Today the festival has grown to hosting more than 300 buskers of all talents and in its seventh year, has been reimagined as "Buskers by the Lake" and moved to a larger home on the Sunshine Coast. Cindy was so certain that the Sunshine Coast was the best venue for her festival, that she relocated to the region.
"My daughter and I are making new friends and forging new foundations for this festival, because we believe the Sunshine Coast community will embrace it," she said.
The festival will be held over the weekend of 29 to 31 October and despite the current unpredictable environment, Cindy's optimistic nature is seeing her forge forward in planning an unforgettable calendar of events which includes a side show by Australia's most prolific freak performer, Space Cowboy.
Cindy says one of the biggest challenges to date has been to plan and manage the major event and its' every aspect, with only the support of her brother Joel and the ever-widening circle of friends who volunteer their time each weekend to make it happen.
"Every year I feel like a contortionist as I turn myself inside out to present the best possible experience for audiences but also the performers who share their abilities, dreams and talents so earnestly with our crowds; it is a non-stop and relentless process but one that is very rewarding," Cindy says.
"Our reason for being is to shine the light on the art of busking, to offer opportunities to everyone with a talent, no matter their ability or disability and to have our audiences discover the undiscovered".
"Busking is a craft and a dying art, there's a special energy and magic when the crowd and artist connect. Every single year I have a moment, when I look around me and see the pure joy in people's faces – it's those memories that continue to motivate me!" she said.
The hardest thing, however, is not the organisation or sleepless nights it takes, Cindy says – it is having to say no to people keen to perform. Sometimes it is because of safety, sometimes they're not a fit and often people arrive on the day hoping for a spot and that's just not possible.
"Every year we have random buskers turning up with their instruments keen to perform, but there's an application cut off date as programming over 300 performers across 13 stages is no small feat and this process needs to be completed a few months out."
"It began as a free entry event but given it's effectively tripled in size, the associated workload has become impossible for one person to complete in a volunteer capacity and the costs of staging the event have increased ten fold, we have been left with no choice but to incorporate a small ticket price for adults and families to assist help meet costs."
"Buskers are only paid by the generous tips from our crowds and to ensure they weren't impacted we kept the entry fee as low as possible and included $1 tip tokens to help spread the tipping message to the punters".
The hardest hurdles of these past two years have certainly been the impacts of Covid19, so Cindy and Joel decided it made perfect sense to revive the past Loveland theme in tribute to the arts community and to celebrate all cultures and abilities, together.
"The love and support from the Sunshine Coast Council and that of the local business community, including Hot 91, Your Mates Brewing, Sunshine and Sons and Mercure Kawana Waters to name but a few is overwhelming - we couldn't make the magic happen without them," Cindy said.
Follow @buskersbythelake #buskersbythelake
Full three day program visit www.buskersbythelake.com.au
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EVENT DATES – SUNSHINE COAST
Battle of the Buskers
Eleven Dive Bar, Duporth Avenue
29 October 2021
Ticket Price - $20.00
Buskers by the Lake
Lake Kawana, SC Stadium
30 & 31 October 2021
Ticket Prices - Early bird
$25.00 - Adult // incl 2 x $1 tip tokens
$9.00 - Child (5-17) // incl 1 x $1 tip token
$50.00 - Family Pass (2 adults, 2 kids) // incl 4 x $1 tip tokens
Venue 114, Sportsmans Pde, Bokarina
Ticket Price - $39.00
Lake Kawana, SC Stadium Foreshore
31 October 2021
Ticket Price - $59