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International Busking Day
"If ever you walk by a place where a busker may just be
Please stop for a little moment and give him your charity
It isn't much to hand a coin or stop and clap with glee
Cause a busker just sings his heart out for all of us to see"
~ Tania Montgomery
Buskers or street performers have been entertaining since antiquity, displaying skills and talents such as acrobatics, animal tricks, balloon twisting, caricatures, clowning, comedy, contortions, escapology, dance, singing, fire skills, flea circus, fortune-telling, juggling, magic, mime, living statue, musical performance, puppeteering, snake charming, storytelling or reciting poetry or prose, street art such as sketching and painting, street theatre, sword swallowing, and ventriloquism! As old as their performances are laws affecting them. The first recorded instances of laws affecting buskers were set in ancient Rome in 462 BC. The Law of the Twelve Tables made it a crime to sing about or make parodies of the government or its officials in public places; the penalty was death! And in 1530 Henry VIII ordered the licensing of minstrels and players, fortune-tellers, pardoners and fencers, as well as beggars who could not work. Without a license, they they could be whipped on two consecutive days! Even today, some towns in the UK limit the licenses issued to bagpipers because of the volume and difficulty of the instrument. As ever, tips are appreciated! 💰
Some legacies of the ancient tradition of busking include Christmas caroling, which originally was a form of busking, as wassailing included singing for alms, wassail or some other form of refreshment such as figgy pudding.
In Ireland the traditional Wren Boys and in England Morris Dancing can be considered part of the busking tradition.
Today's buskers are increasingly subject to rules and regulations and have self-organized into vairous guilds such as the Street Artists & Buskers Advocates in order to provide community, information, and support for street artists.
This tartan is dedicated to the street performers, and anyone who performs in public spaces for voluntary donations, around the world. The idea was conceived by street performer Kate Mior in conjunction with the Busking Project. The international community themselves agreed on which colours would best represent their culture; black and red are the primary colours, symbolising traditional colours of street theatre costuming; the red also nods to the performer's creative passion and fearlessness; gold represents good fortune and heavy hats in donations; and grey and white were chosen to represent the pavement on which performers do their shows. The grey threads number 24, symbolising how, at any given time of day, a street performer is entertaining an audience somewhere in the world. The adjacent black blocks are comprised of 100 threads, one for each performance perceived busking wisdom suggests are needed to be proficient.
For a list of international festivals in the Busker calendar year, click the vintage postcard!