How to host a
Busker & Street Performer Festival
Hur-ray, hur-ray, hur-ray! Step right up!
Planning your first Busker Festival? Have a few million questions? Want to get organized, get on the same page, and get the word out? Make your own busker and street performer festival with tips from some of the world's largest!
From finding the initial pitch to performer payment, make your festival come alive with amazing busker and street performer acts from all over the planet!
Below are Busker Central's specific guidelines and samples to make your busker and street performer festival a success! Make your very first festival an unforgettable event!
So, what in the world are you waiting for? Start planning your city's very first original, Imperial Busker & Street Performer Festival today!
The citizen tunes in his local newscast and sees an high-action thirty-second ad for Liberty City's First Busker & Street Performer Festival. It looks like a fun time. It's all free and open to the public. There's even a guy from Brazil. The citizen throws his wife and kids together and heads for the pitches. There's free parking at the nearby Marriot Hotel.
Much to their surprise, they stumble upon great performances from all over the world with a lot of talent that they'd never heard of. With the kids down front having the thrill of their lives, the parents pulled up their chairs and have a few good laughs themselves. After 30 minutes or so, the show concludes and the hat is passed in the Old World tradition. The crowd disperses to the next pitch allowing another crowd and busker to enter.
Every pitch is different, as is the next, and the next. Soon, the citizen is spinning around in a daze with the fam watching all these bloody buskers! He's getting thirsty and his wife notices the sidewalk sale. He gets a coke from the sidewalk stand, the kids are down front putting money in buskers hats, and the wife is shopping for bargains at the sidewalk specials.
The shopping area is revitalized with colorful balloons strung up here and there. The sun is shining down as the buskers perform their hearts out on a wonderful pitch.
The highlight is Sunday night's Grand Finale high upon the lighted main stage with MC Richard Drummond handing out the trophy to the Best Busker that concludes this year's festival.
A festival can be composed of any or all of the following separate elements.
1) An outdoor group performance composed of all or many of the acts involved containing this year's common theme (magic, fire, dance, music) utilizing a single central stage complete with Opening and Closing ceremonies.
2) An indoor venue for presenting evening group vaudeville style performances where tickets would be purchased. The use of an indoor venue has been utilized by many street performer festivals in the past as a way to draw people to the vicinity in the evening hours when outdoor performances become unviable.
3) A series of outdoor performances scheduled on a variety of stages. Outdoor individual and team acts make up the main bulk of the festival. The most effective use of the daytime acts is to array them on a series of stages between noon and the early evening hours. The acts would alternate each performance to allow for the flow of traffic between each stage.
A staff of 3-5 people should co-ordinate the busker and street performer festival. By working in harmony, they will pull all the strings needed for a successful event.
1) A line Producer (manages the day to day expenses, hires key members of the crew, negotiates deals with merchants, considered the head of production of the festival, and MC)
2) A Production assistant (PA) - phones, talent, pick-ups, drop-offs, emails, communication between departments, distributing notices, schedules, and festival layouts to all buskers)
3) A Technical assistant (TA) - skilled in knowledge and rental of pubic address systems, lighting, signs, stages, tents, and all other technical apparatus used in festivals
You'll first need to decide if this will be an International, National, State, or Local Busker Festival then find the sponsorship to support 10 to 40 busker and street performer acts. International festivals provide round-trip airfare from around the world.
You will need to decide which dates and how long your festival will take place. Most International festivals last four consecutive days (Thursday thru Sunday) and even up to ten consecutive days. Local festivals last up to three months utilizing only the weekends. You're only limited by your fund-raising which always plays an important part.
The staff should seek out the appropriate pitches. The best places are large central plazas and "Historic Districts" where it can likely blend right into the city. Pitches should take the form of a large sunny corner or area that can be filled with a performance and crowd. A store-front may be fine for a smaller act like a statue. Find some pitches reasonably close to each other and ultimately barricade off a whole block or two from motor traffic. The center of the street itself can now be used for huge pitches and larger audiences. Wherever you can place your festival will help determine making it a successful event. If the block is to be closed to motor vehicles, the merchants will need to know. However, sometimes pitches can be carved here and there so closing the block to motor traffic isn't required.
Amplification is provided with wireless microphones used and speakers set up for all to clearly hear. An engineer is provided to run the set-up on each pitch. Large busker festivals have huge lighted stages for the performers in the Grand Finale.
Pitch selection should be obvious to a busker and street performer. There are open-spaces that naturally occur in a structured environment. Alcoves and passages make some of the best pitches. Some cities are already structured to include the performing arts. Once you've selected 3-10 sunny pitches (depending on the size of the festival), determine where a vertical banner could stand.
Festivals in the United States are recommended to first make a feasibility study to insure local interest to begin with. Why? Busker and Street Performer Festivals are not native to the USA. It's much easier to gather interest in other nations where buskers have performed for hundreds of years. This is their livelihood, their way of life. Few people in the USA know what a Busker is yet alone have actually seen one perform.
It will be up to the staff to represent Buskers & Street Performers in a positive, colorful light as legitimate performing artists worthy of entertaining our families and making a vibrant community event. If the community really isn't interested or can't relate to the project, it will be up to the staff to convince them otherwise.
It's always a good idea to begin at the beginning and see how the community currently feels about buskers and street performers in general and their inclusion in the festival. To many, this will be news and not have any idea what they've been missing. Merchants and restauranteurs will see the benefits especially if they can partake with their own sidewalk sales and soft-drink stands.
Next, we need to go to the streets, the merchants, and the general surroundings of the pitches.The staff will be responsible to gather data from the merchants themselves that will accurately show the response and general attitude of having an Busker & Street Performer Festival.
Present the festival to the right person that makes the shop's decisions with pictures and video of performers entertaining and crowds enjoying themselves on a sunny day.
At the end of the presentation, make your pitch for joining the festival with the promotion of sidewalk sales.
Then conclude and collect data for analysis.
Must ask questions include:
1) Do you like the concept of a festival here outside your business?
2) Do you think your business would benefit being open?
3) Do you think it would be good for all shop-owners in the general area?
4) Do you think people would buy drinks and food at the restaurants?
5) Do you think people would enjoy additional shopping with sidewalk sales?
6) Do you think people would return next year if they enjoyed themselves?
Discuss the resulting data and make project adjustments.