Buskers: big and bold for 2015

Cindy Jensen had a big dream last year: a new event for the Gold Coast, highlighting local and visiting busking talent, bringing it all together as a showcase of Currumbin Creek and southern communities and all things great about local and live entertainment.

Thousands of hours later, as the sun was rising for day one of the two-day event and you can imagine Cindy’s anxiety. Would anyone come? Would the weather hold? Had she done enough marketing? Would the acts suck?

Turns out she didn’t have to worry. When I arrived at 10.00am I had to park so far away I was angry. Not so much Cindy. You can imagine her joy at having thousands of people come to her inaugural event. And the wonderful feedback just keeps on coming.

Cindy laughs heartily when we finally sit down for a coffee. She’s just had news of a grant to help with some of the expenses of this year’s event and I start by asking her what that means.

“My husband told me last year, you can’t keep doing this – it’s the most expensive two-day party we’ve had in our lives,” she laughs. It’s not an unusual story – if you look at any major event on the Gold Coast, particularly those that are community driven, you just know that the people involved have done the hard yards to build it year upon year.

“It just means now I can focus on growing it and getting some of those really big acts in,” she said. I’m not happy with that. What kind of acts, I’m curious? She has a twinkle in her eye when she mentions sword swallowing, magicians and unicyclists.

I’m also curious as to why Cindy even set the event up as a not-for-profit and that in itself is an interesting story of bureaucracy. She said she basically went through that process to get bins.

“Council wouldn’t give me rubbish bins unless I was,” she said.

We talk about the significance of having headliners at a busking festival and Cindy agrees that it’s a logical flow-on effect in terms of building an audience.

“We pay headliners, we get a bigger crowd, it exposers our buskers to that bigger audience,” Cindy explained. “We’ll also use some of the funding to run a shuttle bus which means people can avoid parking fines.”

The successful funding application is the second good news Cindy has announced this year. It comes on the back of a new partnership with the Bluesfest Busking Competition. That partnership will see the winner of Cindy’s Battle of the Buskers competition go straight into a final for the Bluesfest Busking competition.

“Anita who organises the Bluesfest Busking competition will be a judge for our battle,” Cindy said. “The winner of our battles gets an automatic place in the grand final of their busking competition and then their winner gets a paid, mainstage slot at Buskers by the Creek. For 2015 that band is Grizzlee Train.”

Cindy is obviously excited when we speak about the winner of last year’s Battle of the Buskers. Katie Who took out the competition and the prize package included the recording of an EP with Lovestreet Studios as well as a massive editorial and advertising marketing package from Blank. Cindy says the whole thing has really boosted Katie’s confidence.

“The Lovestreet prize of helping with her recording and Blank’s whole promotion thing really has helped her with this next step. She’s got that actual package to get out there and go ‘this is who I am.’

Katie’s prize also includes a show at the Soundlounge, so stay tuned for details of that happening in the near future. Other local businesses have been incredibly supportive of Cindy’s efforts too.

“The RSL basically paid for all the artists for their Sunday Sessions in January,” Cindy said. “They were all paid opportunities. Currumbin Creek Tavern have come on board too.”

“There’s great stuff going on on the southern Gold Coast,” Cindy said.

We wrap up our conversation by reflecting back on the success of last year’s event before looking to the future. I ask Cindy what that amazing turn-out demonstrated.

“To me it shows that we’re craving more culture here,” she replied. “Well, it shows the strength in having such a massive talent pool over the two days. Of course they’re all going to bring their families and friends and fans, and people are curious to see what’s going on.”

“From my side it was really hard to market – I didn’t have excess funds,” Cindy said. “That was the hardest thing – the whole marketing of it. That also shows that word of mouth is one of the best forms of advertising.”

And 2015? What does 2015 have in store?

“I’ve signed 120 artists so far,” Cindy said. “And my goal is 200.”

Nominations for performances at Buskers by the Creek close around the end of July and the event takes place 17 – 18 October on the banks of Currumbin Creek.

Get all the juicy details at buskersbythecreek.com.au.

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If you can’t wait until October, check out these other events Cindy is coordinating in the leadup to Buskers by the Creek:

Saturday 27 June | Buskers’ Side Street event: Comedy and Covers with Ellen Briggs + The Titanix, Upstairs at Currumbin Creek Tavern

Sunday 12 July | Buskers’ Side Street event: Barefoot Friday EP launch, Waterside Event Rooms, Currumbin RSL from 2.00pm




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