What Is Busking?
Most of us at some stage or another have enjoyed those special and often rare moments of taking a relaxed stroll through a park, along a beach promenade, past a tourist attraction or a casual walk through the city.
Chances are you would have noticed a musician, someone juggling, or perhaps a comedian entertaining those who pass by, and wondered “What on earth is that person doing out here?” Shouldn’t they be indoors, onstage, entertaining a seated audience?
Most definitely not!
For this is a busker and performing outdoors - busking - is what they love to do.
A busker, also known as a street performer, is someone who does exactly what the title implies... performs on the streets, usually in areas where there is high pedestrian traffic.
A busker can be a musician, comedian, juggler, clown, actor, variety artist, improviser, dancer, acrobatic, contortionist, magician, fire eater, sword swallower, snake charmer, fortune teller, sidewalk artist (sketching, painting, etc), puppeteer, storyteller, poet, mime, living statue, balloon sculptor or perform any type of art that will be appreciated by pedestrians.
Unlike professionally organized entertainment where the entertainer is guaranteed ‘x’ amount of dollars for putting on a show, a busker does not charge a set price, but will accept ‘tips’ for their performance.
The busker’s audience may walk on by – quite often with a new spring in their step, perhaps stop momentarily or even settle in and get comfortable to enjoy the entertainment. As a sign of appreciation and encouragement, the audience offers money or gifts - usually dropped into the performers ‘hat’. How well the busker performs and interacts with the audience can greatly influence how much money he or she will receive.
Why Are They Busking?
Whilst the purpose of busking is to entertain passers-by and collect ‘tips’ for offering an enjoyable form of art, a common misconception is that buskers are nothing more than panhandlers or beggars. What some people don’t realize is that there are many reasons, other than making money why a busker performs on the streets.
These include - to share their artistic talents with others, to gain self confidence, to test artistic skills or new material on a live audience, to build a ‘following’, to rehearse in a lively atmosphere rather than in a garage or merely to meet new people. Budding artists often start their career on the streets simply to be seen.
Buskers will happily entertain and generally don’t ask for payment, but are obviously delighted to receive any feedback and of course, their most preferred form of recognition - money.
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Buskers are a traditional element in our outdoor pedestrian landscape. Please respect their courage and acknowledge them. If nothing else, offer a happy smile!