We’ve talked about getting a feel for a new place upon arrival in previous entries. We shoot in several locations to help our crew and our audience relate to the people, and the culture of the city we are in. Something that stands out in each city is the street entertainment. Sometimes called busking, street entertainment is live performance in its oldest form. Busking is present in most major cities. People showcase their acts and talents in public for gratuities.
Busking found a place in literature as a performance style as early as 1860. Through history these performers have held many titles. Troubadours and Jongleurs from France. The Mariachi in Mexico. Minnesingers from Germany. Buskers can be musicians, magicians, mimes and artists to name a few.
Discovering musicians busking is not uncommon. While singing his way around the streets of Europe, Rod Stewart gained momentum. But not before being deported from Spain for vagrancy. Tracy Chapman was in Harvard Square in Massachusetts when Brian Koppelman heard her sing. After travelling from Alaska to Mexico, and living in her car, Jewel signed with Atlantic Records in San Diego.
Rules & Regulations
Every city has different bylaws regarding busking. However, there are a lot of common laws around the world that effect buskers. For example, in most cities and towns buskers are required to apply, or audition for a permit. Typically rules are regarding playing times, location, and amplification. It’s important to research the rules if you plan to try busking yourself. It is not uncommon to receive a fine, or have your instrument confiscated if you break the rules.
In Nanaimo Street Entertainers Permits are required. Also, you must display a valid identification badge. Additionally, there are many restricted locations throughout the city. Nanaimo has only three unrestricted locations in the downtown area, and a two hour time limit for performers.
Over 2000 people audition for 300 entertainment permits in Paris. Permits are issued twice each year through RATP. In Paris people busk at busy tourist locations like Montmartre and Norte Dame, and also on the Paris Metro. The issue with the Metro is you are preforming for a captive audience, and you have to pass your hat around as your preform so there is more potential for theft.
The city of Los Angeles does not require a permit in most locations. However, if you plan to perform in Santa Monica on weekends and holidays, or after noon on weekdays you will need one. Throughout LA simple rules do apply: no soliciting, stay on the sidewalk, and no amplification. Even though the LA Metro does have organized performances, transit police will not stop you from performing your act so long as you follow their guidelines.
Busking, and street art in all forms add to the fibre of a city. These performances showcase true grit and real stories. Do you have a favourite place to catch an act?