The streets are the perfect platform for unsigned artists to showcase their skills to the public – whether it be music, art or entertainment. Busking, one of the world’s oldest professions, allows artists to do just that.
This March, Ballarat will be harnessing the importance of uncovering hidden talents as it becomes host to a Regional Final of the Australian National Busking Championships, thanks to The Rotary Club of Wendouree Breakfast.
Festival director Gary McKenzie says this will create a massive buzz in Ballarat, with live performances from musicians and street entertainers travelling from around the country for the chance to take out the prizes. Originally hosted by The Rotary Club of Cooma in NSW for the past six years, McKenzie says the club believed it was time for the competition to go national.
“Last year they had over 160 buskers there. It was truly something and they [The Rotary Club of Cooma] felt it was time for it to go truly national, instead of just holding it in a little town, so they thought they’d hold regional finals throughout Australia,” he says.
“The Rotary Club of Cooma invited other rotary clubs for expressions of interest, and we saw it and thought we are well positioned for it. We think Ballarat is ideally located, close to Melbourne, Geelong, and Bendigo so let’s bring it to Victoria.”
Buskers, armed with their instruments, props, a repertoire of music and entertainment, will be coming from all over the country to perform throughout the CBD in front of participating Ballarat businesses for half hour gigs.
“So far we’ve got buskers registered from all over Victoria, NSW and QLD, and we’re encouraging all kinds of buskers to be involved. We just have to be a little bit careful about flame throwers or juggling chainsaws or anything like that,” he jokes. “We aren’t exactly sure how many buskers we will have. We are quite confident that we will have up to 200 buskers here and they will be rotating across the town.”
Not only do buskers get their name out there, share their music and get to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere, but with a series of roaming judges, there is the chance to win cash prizes (with a prize pool of $10,000) in a number of different categories. A highlight of the day is the People’s Choice Award which encourages an admiring audience to vote for their favourite performers.
Following the day, there will be a finalists’ concert at the Minerva Space in the Mechanics Institute, which McKenzie says gives buskers the chance to perform in front of a bigger audience.
Along with the great prizes and advantages to aspiring entertainers, McKenzie highlights the free event is a unique opportunity to benefit both Ballarat and the community.
“There’s certainty a benefit to musicians or street entertainers, but there’s also a benefit for Ballarat, Ballarat tourism and business, and our Rotary Club. We see it as an opportunity to be a signature event for our club, and any money, every single dollar, that we make from this goes back into the community.
“It’s a win, win, win and we’ve got our fingers crossed. We’re pretty excited and we’re hopeful that we can make a success of it this year and we can make it an annual event for Ballarat.”
When & Where: Saturday March 18
Register to perform online by Friday March 3 on the website www.buskingballarat.com.au.
Written by Talia Rinaldo