Nanaimo has a history of loving or hating its buskers. The idea behind the formation of The Beat Of The Street Society was to encourage the community to view street entertainment in a positive way. James Cunningham and Cathy Davis have always maintained that busking is a vibrant contributor to arts and culture. At a 2009 Nanaimo city council meeting, James and Cathy asked why street entertainment received no funding from the Parks, Recreation, and Culture committee. They were informed that they had to become a non-profit society in order to get funding from the City of Nanaimo. After much research and filling out of forms, they created the Beat Of The Street Society. Its initial meeting was in April of 2009, and by July 11, 2009, they had a board of directors and an executive and were an incorporated society.
The Society’s initial mission was to put on a busking festival. They decided to call it The Little Woodstock West Festival, as 2009 was the 40th aniversary of the original amazing Woodstock. In August, they went back to council and requested that September 2009 be declared Busking Month in Nanaimo. With no funding they put on the Woodstock West festival on September 5, 2009. They rented space at Swy-a-lana and put on a show. In spite of inclement weather, some 65 buskers appeared on stage over a nine hour period. At least 350 people showed up. In 2010, Parks, Recreation, and Culture gave the group its first grant to stage on a two-day festival on September 4 and 5, 2010. Before the festival, the Society will hold a Busker Idol Competition to showcase buskers.
At 6 pm on Thursday, April 8, 2010, The Beat Of The Street Society is having its first Annual General Meeting as an incorporated society. They will be electing new officers and forming committees to fundraise and organize this year’s festival. They are actively looking for new members, buskers, sponsors, and audience. Membership costs $10 per year. Call 250-585-7711 for the location. Members of the public are welcome to attend.