Buskers add life to public spaces and to people.

Buskers bring our cold cities to life. These creative street performers transform our public spaces into community centres.  Have you noticed how strained people look when they walk in the cities or in the shopping malls?  Yet, when there is a busker in the vicinity, you will see how a crowd forms spontaneously. Somehow, everybody will look relaxed and smile more freely.

Street performers bring about this magic through their art. It doesn't matter where you are. Where there is a busker, there is a group of people who have been connected.

A living statue street performer at the Boardwalk in Port Elizabeth.

On our recent visit to the Friendly City, Port Elizabeth, we spent a morning at their Boardwalk. The beautiful village layout of the boardwalk is charming. As you stroll along the boardwalk lanes and the fountain focal point, you can feast your eyes on the eclectic sites of quaint shops, eateries, entertainment zones - and generally sullen-looking folk.  It is not that people are miserable. It is just this unwritten code that we must all mind our own business and only greet those whom you know.

The very people who adopt this rigid demeanor, melt when they encounter a busker. I see this every time. While strolling along the boardwalk, we reached the Boardwalk Casino. I saw people standing in a circle outside the entrance to the casino, watching the security guard.  The Casino security guard was tying the living statue performer's shoe lace that had become loose.

 The casino goers delayed their entry into the casino while this shoe-tying ritual was unfolding. When the living statue's shoe was sorted, he moved quickly, pointing his walking stick at an angle. That rapid, unexpected move startled the crowd and we burst into laughter for having been caught! Then we replaced out masks. The casino patrons proceeded through the doors while the busker and we walked on in the same direction.

The living statue performer stopped at his regular place, put down his collection basket, positioned his stand, climbed on it and instantly froze.  In no time, a new crowd started growing. Children and adults shrieked when the statue moved. He only changed his pose whenever someone threw coins into his basket. People threw coins into the basket to encourage the 'statue' to change to a new position. Nobody was self-conscious because we were drawn into the magical world of the street performer.

This is the power of street performers. Through their various art forms, the buskers are our cultural ambassadors.  While they showcase their artistic talents, we are entertained and the fences we put up are momentarily dropped. They are far more than performers waiting to be discovered; they are social change promoters.

Support buskers

Buskers are courageous folk who are following their own dreams. Their age-old street art requires commitment, practice and a desire to share their gifts with others.  Many of them will not find fame and fortune, but they are willing to risk financial gain in order to bring happiness to you and me. So, next time you see a busker who has honed his (her) art form to bring joy to you and others, acknowledge the richness you have gained by dropping a coin in the basket or tin.


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