Gatecrasher acts cash in on event

Last updated 11:34 27/01/2009

Heymoonshaker, a guitar and beatboxing act, set themselves up on a street corner yesterday afternoon to take advantage of the crowds.

"If the festival is a boat, then we are on skis behind it trying to get as much out of it as we can," gatecrashing British beatboxer Crowe said.

British travellers Crowe and guitarist Andrew Balcon met in Nelson and decided to perform in Christchurch to raise money for their world travels.

"We thought we would be able to perform in between sets in the Square, but they wouldn't let us," Balcon said.

Festival director Jodi Wright has taken a liberal approach to the busker pilot fish cruising in the wake of the festival shark.

"It is too hard to try to police them. Unless they are causing a big problem, we just let them be," she said. "If they benefit from the festival, I say good for them. There is enough to go round . . ."

Wright said she saw six or seven gatecrashing buskers in Christchurch last week.

"My main issue with growing the festival is quality control, but now we are at the point where they cannot harm the festival."

Most international acts would not crash the festival as it would upset industry colleagues and ultimately be bad for business, she said.

For the first time this year, the festival is not using City Mall as a venue. Wright said the mall was a difficult venue as the buskers and crowds often upset nearby retailers.

"Using Cathedral Square and Victoria Square is the best thing. There was a consistent problem with retailers there that needed to be handled and took so much time."

Central City Business Association manager Paul Lonsdale said the revamped mall would have made a good location for buskers.

Many retailers felt the buskers scared off customers, but others felt it attracted shoppers to the area.

"We would like to see a bit more activity back in the mall, but it is just how it is managed," he said. "The new Hack Circle is huge and there is lots of room for performers. We were a bit disappointed because we wanted buskers in the finished Hack Circle area."

He hoped the festival would use the mall next year.

- The Press

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