Taking it to the streets

By Chris Thomson | posted on December 15, 2017

THE first-ever regional leg of the Australian National Busking Championships to be held west of Ballarat will roll out onto the footpaths of Albany’s CBD on April 7.

At a meeting called by Rotary member Ian Rayson at Albany’s city offices on Monday, local luminaries including Deputy Mayor Greg Stocks and author John Doust heard Rotarians had bought a licence to run a regional leg of the championships, which started six years ago in Cooma, New South Wales.

“I think it will fit very well into Albany,” Mr Rayson told the gathering.

“We need to ensure we attract a substantial influx of people to not only support the buskers but also create a market for the CBD businesses to capitalise on.”

The festival will fill the Albany CBD, largely York Street and Stirling Terrace, with a range of sights and sounds hitherto not seen or heard in the Great Southern.

Mr Rayson is looking for a naming rights sponsor, and buskers will be charged a fee to perform in CBD hotspots.

Visitors will be able to buy ‘busking dollars’ for $1 each to deposit into performers’ hats or violin cases.

The busker who collects the most busker dollars will win a people’s choice award and $1000.

Mr Rayson said proceeds from the busker dollars would go to a local musical organisation.

He said buskers would be able to pocket their earnings during the championships, as well as competing for $11,250 in prize money in open, high school, primary school and other niche categories.

The overall winner will receive $2000.

“Don’t worry, some of these buskers out there on the day make a lot of money,” he assured.

Five judges, including two from Cooma, will officiate on the day.

Open-air markets are also planned, and a busking grand final will be held from 4pm to 6pm.

Mr Rayson said the Town Square would be an ideal venue, weather permitting, but an alternative indoor venue might be sought in the event that Albany’s April weather goes awry.

He said the “bloody big” after-party and jam session that occurs in Cooma each year may well be replicated in Albany.

A prototype T-shirt has already been printed for volunteers on the day.

After hearing Mr Rayson’s presentation, Mr Stocks said, “the City’s in!”

“We’ll support it,” he added, before a city official said any support would be subject to formal approval.

Regional legs of the championships are already held at Ballarat in the Victorian goldfields, Narooma and Peak Hill in New South Wales, and Noosa and Stanthorpe in Queensland.

The Fremantle International Street Arts Festival finishes five days before the Albany championships.

Mr Rayson said he hoped performers from the Fremantle festival would make their way down the highway for the Albany championships.