Busking board keeps music pumping

MUSIC MAKERS: Bluesfest director Peter Noble (left) with Zahlu from the Buskers Alliance, Cr Simon Richardson and the Byron Community Centre’s general manager Paul Spooner unveil the new busking sign in Byron Bay.
MUSIC MAKERS: Bluesfest director Peter Noble (left) with Zahlu from the Buskers Alliance, Cr Simon Richardson and the Byron Community Centre’s general manager Paul Spooner unveil the new busking sign in Byron Bay. Kate Oneill

CONSIDERING he was once a fire-twirling street performer, it's no surprise that busking is close to the heart of Byron Shire Councillor Simon Richardson.

In the past couple of years, he has become an advocate for Byron Bay's street performance culture, helping smooth out the tensions that can crop up between buskers, the council, local business and police - including the recent debate about amplification.

His latest contribution to the cause is a busking board - recently unveiled at the front of the Byron Community Centre in Jonson St.

Written by Cr Richardson, the board contains a vision statement about Byron Bay's street performance culture, which reads in part: "Byron Bay is proud of its tradition of providing and supporting a lively street culture and greatly values the diversity of entertainment that buskers provide. Our street culture reflects a sense of place and local identity."

Also on the board is information about council regulations and expectations.

Cr Richardson said it was all about accepting challenges and trying to develop solutions.

"Some buskers from out of town are not sure of our regulations, some businesses are dismissive of the 'value' of buskers for the town, and some local buskers are being hassled when trying to make a living," he said.

"This board is an attempt to overcome these problems.

"It also proudly celebrates Byron's creative culture and our long tradition of a wonderful musical heartbeat that still pulses along Jonson St today."

Bluesfest director Peter Noble - whose annual Bluesfest Buskers Competition has unearthed the likes of Kim Churchill and Marshall and the Fro - said busking was an integral part of Byron's culture. "We've always been about having a lively street scene. Where you have a vibrant street scene, you have a healthy community," he said.

He applauded Cr Richardson's support for busking, including the new sign, which is sponsored by Bluesfest.

"Let's see more of this continue, branding Byron as the regional arts capital of Australia," he said.

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