Busking on city streets has a rich tradition dating back centuries, and elicits mixed reactions. Viewed as a free and noble artform by some, others have seen it as a nuisance to be deterred. Increasingly, the consensus is that street performers enliven city streets and public spaces, and are encouraged to do so.
This is the view of City of Sydney who are developing a new busking policy and are keen for ideas on how best to maximise its potential. The have released a busking discussion paper and are inviting musicians, performers, residents, businesses, industry and government to comment and contribute.
This work, part of the City’s Live Music and Performance Action Plan, comes at a time when music and related culture are hot topics in Sydney, as we have previously covered here. Busking is a not an inconsequential part of this equation with over 500 buskers working the city each week, and Sydney has 1,500 licensed buskers. The paper quotes researchers Julia Quilter and Luke McNamara who have found that for many buskers “street performance is a major (and for some, primary) source of income”, and for some “street performance is much more like a job than a hobby.”
The discussion also paper notes that, while busking is seen as good for business, is popular in the community, and enjoys a 76 percent satisfaction rating, it lacks effective policy frameworks. The City now wants to put these in place in a manner consistent with its role as both an enabler and a regulator.
To do this Council is asking a series of questions around cost, complexity, noise, access, and the vexed issue of how to fairly manage ‘high value’ locations.
What’s your view on busking in Sydney? You can contribute here.