Lunchtime in Nanaimo is getting more musical.
Last week the new business association Downtown Nanaimo launched its new Corner Concerts series, which features local artists performing at up to three downtown locations from Friday to Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The series runs until Aug. 22.
Diana Krall Plaza, Museum Way and the National Land Building steps will serve as stages. Each day two musical acts will perform one-hour sets at two of the locations, before rotating to another spot to play for the next hour.
Downtown Nanaimo chairperson Kim Smythe, who is also CEO of the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce, said this is the first time any group has organized live music in the downtown core since the chamber’s last downtown night market in summer 2019.
“We could not do another night market this summer but everybody was really wanting something interactive to happen downtown,” he said.
Smythe said one issue was the city didn’t want to issue permits for events that would draw crowds of more than 40 people. He said making the shows mobile was part of the solution.
“I thought if we do something small-scale that moves around downtown, then we won’t have the opportunity to gather audiences any larger than a typical restaurant patio would be,” he said. “And that would probably be a safe way to proceed through summer while providing some life and some happiness on downtown streets.”
Among the acts this past opening weekend were Gabriola Island banjo player Tina Jones and father-son trumpet and voice duo the Big Mess. Smythe said the artists are drawn from the pool of local professionals to assure quality and that many have previously performed at the downtown night market.
“We’re just doing this to provide some ambiance … and performances downtown to provide a welcome to folks who are coming downtown to shop or dine and also to let our tourists know that we’re a happy, friendly community,” Smythe said.