** OUR 2 DAY MAIN EVENT AT LAKE KAWANA FORESHORE HAS BEEN CANCELLED. SEE BELOW FOR MEDIA RELEASE **
18th August, 2023 // Battle of the Buskers // 7.00pm // Kings Beach Tavern, Caloundra
19th August // Gypsyland Side Show // 7.00pm // Kings Beach Tavern, Caloundra
20th August, 2023 // Official After Party // 7.00pm // Kings Beach Tavern, Caloundra
Australia’s original, multi award winning busking festival “Buskers by the Lake” was set to celebrate its’ 10th anniversary along the foreshore of Lake Kawana this August, but organisers are now announcing its cancellation of the main two-day event just under five weeks out.
The festival started after Founder and Event Director, Cindy Jensen was inspired on a trip to Thailand, while walking through an outdoor market in Thailand and witnessing four blind guys busking. The event started on the Gold Coast in 2014 and after six hugely successful years, the Sunshine Coast Council lured Cindy into moving the event to the region to fill a much-needed void in their cultural event portfolio. This year the festival was announced as a Tourism and Events Queensland destination event, nominated for “Experience of the Year” by Visit Sunshine Coast and is highly celebrated by the events and arts industries, local businesses, and community.
With 206 performers locked away, including the winner of Italy’s Roma Buskers Festival, plus suppliers, crew, foodies, volunteers and pre- ticket purchasers, this decision isn’t one that's been taken lightly by Cindy. Most would jump to the conclusion in this environment that the cancellation is due to lack of ticket sales or funds, but this simply isn’t the case. Cindy says the dealings with Sunshine Coast Council are being blamed and that this cancellation is being spurred on by integrity, principal, and moral standards.
The outcome of a recent meeting with Council was an offer to provide financial support, on condition that the offer be kept confidential and that Cindy did not make any negative comments about the Council in the media or on social media platforms. Cindy considered this to be ‘hush money’ and a demonstration of this Council’s mentality.
“I am taking this cancellation stance and calling for a full investigation into Sunshine Coast Council, its representatives, budgets, and reporting and operations of their own major events - someone needs to hold them accountable,” said Cindy.
Sign the petition here – INVESTIGATE SUNSHINE COUNCIL
“From my own experiences and through discussions with other industry members and operators, the evidence indicates that Buskers by the Lake provides a competitive edge to other events held by Council and because of that, it seems that they are working against us and had intended to either take-control of, or eradicate the event. They only appear interested in events that they can control, directly profit from, or put their Council badge on,” Cindy said.
"I'm a vocal voice within this community, I’m highly respected amongst my peers and industry, and I have learnt an awful lot about the operations of this particular Council and its representatives. Because of this, it seems that Council have tried their best to eradicate me or at very least, keep me quiet!"
“Council's tactics and behaviour towards me has also illustrated to me that the Council fundamentally misunderstands its role within the community. They seem to act more like a commercial enterprise in direct competition with other businesses, than a local government that can encourage private investment for the benefit of the community”.
“I cannot and will not continue to work alongside a Council while they blatantly continue to work against us – it’s hard and continues to have so many detrimental effects on myself and so many.”
“I have always fought for fair, I want to be the voice for others who are and have been silenced because they have everything to lose and I don’t care the cost to my reputation, future funding or otherwise.”
The full story is damning but Cindy’s put all calls for a tell-all aside until after the event and in a move spurred on by sheer defiance has used her ‘out-of-the-box’ creative thinking, placed the throttle in overdrive and is reaching out to community venue owners to become part of a re-imagined 10th anniversary event, “Gypsyland On Tour”.
“We’ve got a few hundred performers who’ve had the dates on hold for the past many months and although it’s under five weeks away, I’m going to do my very best to get each and every one of them performance slots and opportunities at venues and events around the coast,” Cindy said.
Cindy’s built a mighty supportive community over the three years since she’s been on the Sunshine Coast and local venues are already banding together in support. As per Cindy’s request, the activations will be free entry with paid gigs direct from the venue to the talent.
“Our amazing partners, Your Mates Brewing have always had our back and will be placing a few of our talent in their brewhouse over the schedule weekend,” Cindy said.
Drift Bar owner, Matt Savage voiced his immediate support, with an offering of performers to be booked to entertain his patrons. Duporth Tavern and Nambour Beach House are also locked away and excited to be a part.
“That’s just from my first four calls and it resonates immensely, as it proves that business owners here on the coast understand the true sense and importance of community.”
John Orning, General Manager, Mercure Hotel Kawana Waters has been an event sponsor since the day Cindy discussed accommodation partnerships and he has also thrown his support behind Cindy and the event.
“Buskers By the Lake has proven to be a catalyst for attracting visitors to our region, bolstering the fortunes of tourism operators. The past two events have resulted in our accommodations being fully booked, defying the usual lull period and underscoring the event's potential as a significant driver of economic activity,” said John.
Australia's most prolific Guinness World Record Holder, Chayne Hultgren, aka ‘The Space Cowboy’ has performed at and attended the festival on multiple occasions and says the festival holds a special place in his heart.
“The cancellation is a great loss for both performers and the community and it’s disheartening to see such a vibrant and important event face challenges, as it not only provides a platform for artists to shine, but also brings people together in a unique and inclusive way,” Chayne said.
“My support and admiration go out to Cindy and her brother for their unwavering dedication to the arts.”
A long-standing Sunshine Coast business, DW Sound, has provided sound and production services to Cindy for both Airwaves Drive-In Music Festival and her buskers event. The owner, Heath Moore, is extremely vocal when it comes to the events industry on the Sunshine Coast and the questionable operations of Council.
“Buskers is a unique and much needed event for the Sunshine Coast, offering a high quality, extremely affordable cultural experience for families, with organisers who are genuinely passionate about the industry, community and its’ people,” Heath said.
“The size and success of great, locally homegrown events such as Ocean Street World Festival and Big Pineapple Festival, along with other smaller and equally successful events have also disappeared as a direct result of Sunshine Coast Council”.
Despite her bold move, this is an extremely devastating decision for Cindy, especially knowing the impact it will have on so many. Cindy has already spent tens of thousands of dollars which won’t be recovered, but it’s not enough motivation to see her through to the finish line at Lake Kawana.
"Ticket sales were exceeding expectations and our ‘Gypsyland’ event was gearing up to be a highly successful celebration of the art of busking and community,” Cindy said.
“My festival family and I are all so devastated and we understand that this decision considerably impacts our performers, stall-holders, suppliers, ticket holders, those who have booked accommodation and travel, volunteers, community and more. We profusely apologise for the inconvenience this cancellation will cause.”
“I just couldn’t deal with a Council who shows complete and utter disrespect for me a minute longer.”
Cindy is extremely vocal in spreading the message that it’s been a long, sometimes difficult road to get here and no matter the pot holes, detours or near miss accidents that have presented themselves along the way, she refused to give up.
“And I still refuse to - this is yet just another bump in the road,” Cindy said.
Full refunds will be issued to ticket holders for the main two-day event and full details of the updated program will be listed on the website and socials over the coming weeks.
Tickets for the side-street events are on sale here:
For media enquiries contact via text in first instance, as unknown numbers will not be answered: Cindy Jensen 0421 035 432 email@example.com
For those travelling from interstate who need to park up and rest their heads, the Sunshine Coast has many accommodation options close to the festival venue. Support and stay with those who support us!
MERCURE KAWANA WATERS - Just a hop and a skip (or a very short swim) from the festival. Call them direct on 07 5334 9500, mention Buskers by the Lake and they'll provide you a festival fan surprise. Click here to check them out!
The Sunshine Coast is where those in the know come for an authentic experience that transcends other destinations. It's welcoming and unaffected. We are all about sun-drenched beaches, national parks and lush countryside plus a cosmopolitan lifestyle, epic events and climate that invites year round swimming and surfing that just can't be beat.
Discover it for real while you're here for Buskers by the Lake's re-imagined 10th anniversary string of side street events. For more information on where to stay, places to see and the best food and drink on the coast, click here.