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Busking a boom?

Kelowna could be the site of a Buskers Festival starting in either 2015 or 2016.

That is according to Renata Mills, Executive Director of Festival's Kelowna.

As part of yearly presentation to City Council, Mills indicated Festivals Kelowna and city staff would spend this year and next conducting research into creation of a Kelowna Buskers Festival.

A professional busker from the Victoria festival will also be brought in to perform during Parks Alive! as a 'teaser' to show what a festival could offer.

Mills adds crowds for street level buskers at numerous 'Busk Stops' in the downtown have steadily risen since the program was first introduced in 2009.

She also notes the level of participation among performers has also increased - up 28 per cent in 2013 over the previous year.

Of those participating in 2013, 87 per cent were local while 13 per cent were travelling buskers. Ninety per cent of the buskers were new to the program in 2013.

"The Kelowna Buskers Program has continued to take on a life of its own. Last year we introduced an extension to that called the Marquee Buskers," says Mills.

"We took some of the higher level, more experienced, more professional buskers that could operate just as easily on a stage as on a street corner and we created the Marquee Buskers program. We would hire these individuals, seed them with a bit of money for a two hour period but place them in specific spots at specific times."

Mills says that program will continue in 2014 - a festival she says could be an extension of that program.

Festivals Kelowna is also looking at increasing the number of busk stop in downtown Kelowna as well as introducing the program into Rutland.

As for other events planned for the summer, Mills hinted there may be interesting new plans for the summer but stopped short of making any announcements.

"Other than the specific juicy details for what is happening in the summer we tend to want to keep that special until much closer to kickoff," says Mills.

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