Busker festival brings mirth, money

CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 05:00 17/01/2013
Daniel Tobin

Charlie Gates visits new buskers festival venues and talks about what the event means for the city.

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The World Buskers Festival 2013

Sammy J & Randy 'absurd, funny and very slick' Buskers critics' choice to be revealed tomorrow The boy with danger as a name Trick of the trade an eye-opener Stand-up comics take fun to a new high Busker brings hijinks to the Square Bingo with bells on top 'Yes' the answer to dance proposal Festival today, the world tomorrow Le Gateau Chocolat 'captivating'

The buskers are coming and they're bringing millions of dollars with them.

The annual World Buskers Festival starts today, generating laughter and a multimillion-dollar boost for the Christchurch economy.

In previous years the festival has generated about $3 million in new spending and attracted about 300,000 people to shows. Last year about 5 per cent of people enjoying shows were from abroad and another 5 per cent were from other parts of New Zealand.

About 8 per cent of people visiting Christchurch for the festival stayed in hotels, according to research by event organisers.

Christchurch City Council events and marketing manager Richard Stokes said the festival generated about $3m in spending in 2011, but the economic impact was not measured last year.

"What we find is a number of travellers see the festival and stay in Christchurch a bit longer," he said.

"It has grown from a Christchurch festival for the people of the city to a more national attraction because it has been so successful and has such a strong reputation."

By comparison, the Ellerslie Flower Show generates about $15m, while Cup and Show Week generates about $25m in spending for the city.

Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend said the festival had provided the city's economy with a much-needed post-quake boost.

"The buskers festival has established itself very firmly as an iconic event. It attracts a lot of people to Christchurch and it is a significant contributor to economic activity in Christchurch. It brings people into the city again."

Festival arts director Jodi Wright said the event also helped lift the city's spirits.

"Ten days of laughing has to help. I feel better when I'm in a big group of people where everybody is having fun and feeling happy.

"There's a big demand for it this year. We have heard a lot of people are coming and looking forward to it."

The festival is edging back into the city centre this year for the first time since the Canterbury earthquakes.

A pallet pavilion built by Gap Filler on the former site of the Crowne Plaza Hotel will host nights of comedy. There will also be two stages in the Re:Start mall, along with a cluster of temporary venues and stages in Hagley Park.

Evening shows start tonight and daytime busking starts Friday.

PICKS OF THE DAY

~ Le Gateau Chocolat - baritone diva with as many costumes as songs.

~ Gamarjobat - Japanese superstars and silent comedy duo.

~ Javier Jarquin: Card Ninja - last year's Press critics' choice award winner.

* For festival updates follow @nzcharliegates on Twitter. Post your own reviews and photos using #buskers2013.

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- The Press

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