Buskers have come under civic scrutiny in recent months with concerns they can sometimes be too loud or not meet the required standard whatever that might be.
Now the self-titled ‘Busking Lady’ (in the green hat) has turned the tables.
She is politely requesting the public also behaves respectfully towards performers who bear their soul every time they entertain in Chester city centre while trying to eke out a living from their labour of love.
The council is currently working with buskers to draw up a fresh code of conduct for street entertainers to prevent conflicts between amplified artists and shopkeepers, for example.
But it turns out the ‘Busking Lady’, aka Clare Wall, had already published her own ‘code of courtesy for street performance audiences’ aimed at encouraging the general public to enjoy what’s on offer but to never poke fun or be rude.
Clare, who admits her act as Modern Millie – the 1920s flapper or Charlie Chaplin is ‘quirky’, says: “I have to deal with verbal abuse, along with intimidating behaviour from by the public, and it is disheartening in the extreme. Feedback and honest responses are always appreciated, but verbal/physical assault of any nature are not. Swearing, threatening, mocking and insulting is uncalled for behaviour.”
The 26-year-old trained ballet dancer and self-taught singer, added: “If anyone has an issue because, for example, they feel music is over-amplified, it is far better to courteously approach the entertainer and make thoughts known civilly. By being politely direct, an obliging response from a performer is usually guaranteed. Respect is a two-way process!”
Clare’s code implores people to ‘pause’ before making a snap judgement and to be appreciative.
“If you enjoy the act you see, take photos, participate, please express your appreciation by making a contribution. It doesn’t have to be monetary; it could simply be acknowledgement or letting the performer know you liked what you saw.”
And she asks for understanding about the uncontrollable environment in which buskers operate, including the inclement British weather.
A cautionary clause offers this advice when watching physical street performers: “If the act involves stunts such as juggling, fire-eating, or unicycling, use common sense and keep sufficient distance from the performer.”
There also are some do’s and don’ts.
“No, we are not all X-Factor wannabes, or waiting to be noticed by talent scouts who’ll give us a big break! Often performers do get bookings for events or offers of regular work from people who are enthusiastic about their acts. But what a street entertainer is doing may well be their full-time job so avoid questions like: ‘What do you hope to do eventually?’ And the old classic *cringe* ‘What’s your proper job?'."
Above all Clare, who can be hired for events like weddings and parties, gives this advice: “Let yourself be entertained! Unleash your imagination and enter into the spirit of things. Nothing makes us happier than enhancing your day with whatever act we’re offering.”
Last year Clare spent the day ‘living rough’ to raise awareness of homelessness while protesting against proposed council measures that could have led to vulnerable people and unauthorised buskers being fined.
A compromise was reached and in terms of busking, Clare says one good thing to come out of the process is that people are now talking to each other and learning to see situations from the other party’s perspective.
Follow Clare on Twitter: @BuskingLady