Balloting for sites, app for buskers on the cards following MP’s suggestions
SINGAPORE — Busking in Singapore could soon feature the use of balloting for keenly-contested sites, and a mobile application to help buskers — and audiences — keep track of popular performance spots.
SINGAPORE — Busking in Singapore could soon feature the use of balloting for keenly-contested sites, and an application to help buskers — and audiences — keep track of popular performance spots.
The moves are in the pipeline after Member of Parliament (MP) Louis Ng on Monday (Aug 5) called for busking here to be made more accessible and fairer, as he put forward these and other suggestions that had been passed to him by buskers.
Such moves will help reduce competition among buskers and encourage a diversity of performers, further enlivening Singapore’s vibrant busking scene, added the MP for Nee Soon Group Representation Constituency.
Proposed tweaks could also include reserving specific sites for street performers such as circus acts requiring more space, said Mr Ng during an adjournment motion in Parliament.
Responding to Mr Ng’s suggestions, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth Baey Yam Keng said that the National Arts Council (NAC) will work with Mr Ng on his suggestions to allocate sites through balloting and to use technology such as applications to share information on busking sites.
#1 REPLACING BUSKING SITES WITH AREAS
Mr Ng called for the current five specific busking sites allocated to each approved busker to be replaced by five more general busking areas containing a number of specific sites instead so that buskers can more easily find a free spot to perform.
Five busking sites are currently allocated to buskers after they have undergone successful auditions with the NAC. These sites may not be located within the same areas.
However, Mr Ng said that busking group The ETC had told him that it was difficult for them to find a spot at these sites, forcing them to move around different locations via taxi with all their equipment to find a site which was unoccupied.
This was especially difficult for their singer Tang Yuxuan, who was a wheelchair user. Tang died earlier this year at the age of 48.
Mr Ng also proposed an application, first mooted by Tang’s band, which can show buskers available sites instead of “travelling all the way there to find that it has been taken”.
“The app can also be made available to the public and they can see where performances are happening and this will help to promote the busking scene,” he added.
#2 FAIR CHANCE FOR BUSKERS AT HOTSPOTS
Mr Ng raised the issue of competition and conflict emerging between buskers who had to perform close to each other as a result of the limited space available.
“Due to (the space) being the first-come-first-serve, some buskers come as early as 11am to reserve their ‘best’ spot and only start performing in the evening,” said Mr Ng.
He had spoken to a young busker, 25-year-old Muhammad Firdaus, who suggested a ballot system like the one used at the Covent Garden in London — a world-renowned street performance site.
“Having a balloting system means that everyone will have a fair chance to busk at these hotspots instead of just a few buskers, and the public will be able to see a range of performances instead of only a few who had ‘choped’ the spots,” said Mr Ng.
He proposed that the ballot system be trialled in front of Ngee Ann City and Clarke Quay.
#3 FAIRER AND MORE DIVERSE PERFORMANCES
Mr Ng raised the issue of “circle act buskers” – street performers with a structured performance – having fewer locations to use. Examples include magicians, jugglers, acrobats and dance groups who need large areas given the nature of their shows and to ensure public safety.
These acts usually lose their performance spaces to musicians or side-walk performers who come earlier to reserve spaces. He suggested that specific sites for circle acts be set aside at selected times to make it fairer for them.
Mr Ng also said he will designate two new sites in his constituency in Yishun to busking, in addition to the current one at Yishun Park. One will be at Yishun Park Hawker Centre and the other at the Oasis Water Park @ Nee Soon East.
#4 BUSKERS ASSOCIATION
Mr Ng said several buskers have come together to start a Buskers' Association that will “take busking to the next level in Singapore”.
He added that the association will work closely with the NAC and be supported by food and beverage firm Timbre.
GOVERNMENT TO EXPLORE SUGGESTIONS ON BUSKING SCHEME
Mr Baey said busking here has grown since its introduction in the 1990s. The number of younger performers has more than doubled since 2008. About 300 buskers are registered here, with half aged under 35.
To cater to growing demand, the NAC has also worked to increase the number of busking locations islandwide from three to 81. Still, Mr Baey said that his ministry recognises that there is room for improvement.
“Notwithstanding these developments, we recognise that the utilisation of busking locations can be uneven, and there is sometimes intense competition for locations deemed to have higher footfall and visibility,” he said.
Mr Baey also called on owners and managers of busking locations to support buskers by opening up their venues. “Busking that is congruent with the identity of the space will help to create value, and thereby help busking flourish with strong public support,” he said.
He added that NAC is currently in talks with some venue owners and managers to explore different busking models, as proposed by Mr Ng.
For instance, NAC is working with *Scape, which is a designated busking location at Somerset, to assess how current spaces can cater to more diverse performances.
Mr Baey also welcomed the formation of the Buskers' Association and said that NAC is working with the team to develop a code of practice for the busking community.
“This seeks to encourage good busking etiquette among our buskers, as well as sensitivity to the different groups who use the public spaces where busking takes place,” he said.
Related topicsbusking Louis Ng street performance
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