An arts oasis in parched landscape

21:03, Jan 07 2014
Le Gateau Chocolat
COLOURFUL CONFECTION: Baritone diva Le Gateau Chocolat will help kickstart the World Buskers Festival tonight. The singer has brought 72 kilograms of drag costumes to Christchurch for his show.

As Christchurch has changed, so has the importance of the World Buskers Festival.

I remember standing in the Victoria Square amphitheatre two years ago with a huge crowd. It was that strange time between the September and the February earthquakes, but we didn't know that yet.

We were watching the Topp Twins perform on a sunny weekday afternoon. But it felt like we were there for more than just funny songs and gentle comedy. This was catharsis.

After the shock of the September quake, we were hoping to move on, return to the city centre and have a laugh.

Weeks later that hope was shattered.

Two years on, the city centre is a very different place. That amphitheatre is a very different place. Like much of central Christchurch, it is deserted, mangled and slightly overgrown.

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As Christchurch has changed so dramatically, so has the importance of our annual buskers festival.

Before the quakes, the festival was a fantastic accessory in a lovely city, but now it's an arts oasis in a parched landscape.

With the loss of theatres, art galleries and cinemas, our remaining cultural treasures hold more meaning.

The festival provides more than just the thrill of the circus for Christchurch.

It's about reclaiming the city centre with laughter.

It's about laughter as optimistic defiance.

And it's about hope.

Get out there and have a laugh over the next 10 days.

I promise you, it will make you feel better.

The Press