BEYOND BUSKING PROJECT

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BEYOND BUSKING PROJECT

A busker or busking, or as they are more commonly known–street performers–entertain crowds with their musical performance, art, and unusual and comedic acts for tips in public areas. As William H. Whyte put it, buskers are a means of triangulation: people who have the power to change the way people react to and perceive space.

Busking has a long history stretching back to our earliest societies. There were buskers in Ancient Egypt, Rome, Greece, and India. From Medieval French troubadours to modern Mexican mariachi, buskers have been performing in public spaces since public spaces were invented. Busking predates the theater and has outlived the CD. It is, historically, the single most common expression of the human spirit: a viable, honorable, and traditional way of making a living.

But today, real street performance is at risk of being licensed out of existence, with permit systems, auditions, fees, written application processes, equipment bans, scheduling, and branding making the spontaneous, surprising creativity in public spaces a thing of the past. Negative stereotypes, continual harassment, fines, and arrests discourage our best artists from performing in public.

The allure of the busker still has its effect on the public today. Like in Medieval times, street performers introduced visitors to local stores, culture, and restaurants. By providing a variety of quality entertainment, buskers create a mutually beneficial commercial environment for everyone, stores, restaurants, and other performers, at little to no cost to the city.

At Cape Town Arts Festival, we would love to live in a world where buskers are celebrated and respected for what they do. We would like to live in a world where buskers are safe and not harassed for making sustainable income for themselves.  That’s why we introduce The Beyond Busking Project:

Cape Town Arts Festival piloted the Beyond Busking Skills and Development Program in 2022 to:

  • Provide economic relief and inspiration to local busking artists.
  • Uplift the image and perception of buskers in South Africa.
  • Create greater platforms for buskers beyond the streets of Cape Town.
  • Provide talented buskers with training in songwriting, stage presence and vocal training, musical arrangement, and production and equipment upgrade.
  • Give buskers a platform on the big stage

Listen to our Festival Director, Yusuf Ganief’s interview on CAPE TALK’S Weekend Breakfast with Sara-Jayne King about the Beyond Busking Project here.

Check out the videos below of the Beyond Busking Program Class of 2022:

Henry Jeane – Beyond Busking Program
Thando Feni – Beyond Busking Program
Zanie Mdloyi – Beyond Busking Program
Abraham Van Den Berg – Beyond Busking Program
Machawe Ndlovu – Beyond Busking Program

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