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 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:
BEYOND BUSKING PROJECT– INDIGENOUS MEETS TECHNOLOGY
- Innovation is key to promoting and supporting artists in a sustainable manner.
- This project holds the key to connecting rural indigenous musicians with the latest cutting-edge technology.
- By providing them with equipment and training we empower buskers to provide a new norm of busking, helping our tourist industry, both urban and rural.
- Our training and video program allows them to go beyond borders and participate on an international platform within the busking arts arena – a growing, and exciting industry.
MAKING BUSKING SUSTAINABLE – Educational and Social Development Programme
- Musicians will be provided with sound and mixing equipment to facilitate a quality performance, bridging the divide between township busking artists and international artists.
- Masterclasses and mentorship over a 3-week intensive training period will assist musicians to:
– Understand and master the sound equipment provided.
– Masterclasses in stage presence and vocal training.
– Song arrangement for improved repertoire.
– Training in songwriting, composition, and music production to optimize their own musical talents.
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