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Busking in Australia 

Researched and written by Daniel Simone Da Silva Serra (BROWNS Student – IGE Advanced class)

Busking is an old tradition done by musician and artists around the world.

It is the act of performing on the streets to spread your own art and music, normally it comes with some form of reward like money, food or gifts. Any form of street performance that is entertaining can be call busking, such as acrobatics, dance, singing, magic, juggling, mime, living statue, sword swallowing, painting and much more. There have been performances in public places in every major culture in the world, dating back to the old days and for many musicians, street performance was the most common means of employment before the advent of recording and any kind of media.

Many famous artists and singers first started busking and then started to get noticed and signed with major music recording labels like Janis Joplin, B.B King, Rod Steward, Ed Sheeran and John Butler.

Here in Australia, this activity is very common, especially in big cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Gold Coast. You can spot any kind of act on the streets and be amazed or find really funny. But in some places, you need permission to perform on the streets. You need to fill a busking application form that you can find in this link:

After the application, an audition will be requested to show the key elements of your act and can only last 3 minutes. Auditions will be held at Surfers Paradise Alliance offices. Buskers can only perform in the designated spots, which will be advised of when you receive your permit. Each designated spot is suited to a different style of busking, depending on size requirements. Buskers can occupy a site for one hour at a time. Once you have a busking permit, you only have to audition once a year or when your act is changed or modified.

It’s not permitted to sell CDs or any kind of merchandise, you only can put something in front of your act, for people “donate” or contribute in any way that they want or find fair. Sadly the busking permission is not free, the cost is around $87 dollars for 3 months and $31 dollars for 1 month only. You can also ask for a one year permit but it will cost $31 dollars per month. The busking applications are from September to November, December to February, March to May and June to August. The permission is only for some designated spots, not for the whole city. The most common spots are Surfers Paradise on Cavil Avenue and Principal Avenue, Southport most in the Nerang Street and the Asian surrounds, Burleigh Heads and Broadbeach.

In my experience as a busker, it’s a really fun and rewarding experience, where you can meet a lot of new people and spread your art and music through the city. It’s really good extra money for the weekend of even to pay some bills and have fun. One of the main reasons that I’m writing this article is to divulgated this kind of performance and incentivise people to be generous and spare some change or more money to this artists, because it means a lot to them. Your attention and generosity, it may not seem much but really helps raise and motivate the art and the artist.

So the next time you see somebody busking remember these words and contribute a little of your time or money.