Written and contributed by: Mr Raymond Anthony Fernando.
In retrospect, I do not agree with Miss Susan Tan’s suggestion that buskers should not be permitted to busk as a day job. I also do not agree with the writer that busking is a form of begging (Do not allow busking as a day job; April 17, 2018, The Straits Times).
But I fully agree with the writer that talented people should be given opportunities for exposure to showcase their performance.
Buskers help make the environment a lively place and they are earning a decent living. There are many seniors who engage in busking to earn a decent living as jobs for the elderly are hard to come by as ageism is still a thorny issue. Busking also known as street performing, whether it be performing magic, playing music, or even juggling, can be a great way to practice your craft and earn some serious cash.
Moreover, busking is a social activity, not an anti-social one. It is a tradition that enhances public space and deserves to be wholeheartedly supported and protected by the local authorities as well as the community. One of the hardest things about any street show is gathering a sizeable crowd to watch buskers perform. Usually once you have 2 or 3 people watching you perform, others will be more inclined to want to stop and watch your show. You will eventually start to form a crowd and next thing you know, you will have 30 to 40 people watching you. Thus, it is important to find the right place and the right time to show the talents of buskers.
The writer should not deprive buskers the chance to earn some money to pay for daily living. We need to be more outward looking, rather than inward looking.
Has the writer been to Novena MRT station and listened to the lovely singing by an elderly Eurasian busker, who, from my conversation with him informed me that he rents a one – room HDB flat and the takings from people, helps him to pay for his rent, PUB, simple meals and other needs?
Has the writer visited the Ang Mo Kio central district where a blind lady busker sings well in Chinese to earn a living to put food on her table? There is also an elderly man who stands and plays the harmonica at the Toa Payoh bus interchange in the evenings.
The writer should also visit the bus stop near the Orchard MRT where an elderly Chinese male makes a living by playing the saxophone.
Foreign students don’t have it easy either – as they have to pay high fees for their education here, transport, along with their daily expenses.
Music is a great stress reliever, its therapeutic, and students need an avenue to unwind.
So. let’s learn to be a more caring and gracious society and give people the opportunity to earn some money and be a part of our vibrant culture.
Besides the National Arts Council. I propose that our buskers – both local and foreigners, get invitations to perform regularly at events organised by the grassroots leaders at community events.
In closing, perhaps Miss Tan may want to open her heart and find jobs for our buskers if she is adamant that they should not use busking as a day job.
Raymond Anthony Fernando (Mr)
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