Mixed reception for busker slots

New stencils encouraging buskers down Broadway Ave have been met with a mixed reaction from the Palmerston North busking community.

The "Busk It" stencils were painted on the footpath on Broadway Ave outside Downtown Shopping Centre, Trade Aid and Alexanders on Wednesday in an effort to bring more life to the street by encouraging buskers to perform there.

A regular busker on Broadway, who did not want to be named, said he thought the stencils were a good idea "executed badly".

The stencils were too close together and could lead to clashes with other buskers whose performances did not complement each other, he said.

He cited one occasion when he was playing folk music, and another busker was singing opera.

Generally, it went without saying that if you could hear someone else then you should move away, and the last busker to arrive should be the one to move, he said.

Kiran Parbhu, a newcomer to busking, said he supported getting buskers down Broadway and thought it could bring a creative vibe to the street, particularly with the Regent Theatre situated there.

"It consolidates the arts."

Mr Parbhu said he felt anything that was there to provide some encouragement was not going to hurt.

"It gives a little bit of guidance for people coming down for the first time."

Another regular busker, Harry Lilley, agreed that the stencils were too close and would create too much noise "spill" for neighbouring buskers but he was supportive of encouraging more activity on the streets.

He felt a bylaw should be put in place and clearly defined "rules" set out so there was no confusion for buskers or businesses.

It was a public space and should be mediated by council, he said.

Council spokesman Daniel O'Regan said buskers were consulted before the stencils were put in place, but agreed some stencils might be too close to each other, those outside Downtown and Broadway in particular, depending on what people were playing, and how loud.

When he had visited Broadway, there had not been issues between buskers who were close to each other.

It came down to common sense, and if the noise from two buskers clashed it was not good for either of them, and it made sense that one would move.

If the noise was too much, for example when two buskers both used amplifiers, businesses would call noise control anyway. A bylaw was a last resort and there had not been enough trouble with buskers to warrant one, he said.

Manawatu Standard