Buskers will reclaim city centre
The city centre was always the heart of the World Buskers
Cathedral Square would fill with people and echo to laughter and
cheers as crowds were captivated by street performers. Evening
shows in the north quad of the Arts Centre were also special, with
the setting sun filling the courtyard with natural light.
The February 2011 earthquake put an end to all that, sealing the
city centre behind red-zone cordons and forcing organisers to build
a temporary buskers base in North Hagley Park, complete with bars,
eateries, bank machines, venues and busker pitches.
The temporary setup has worked pretty well, creating a lively
hub among the mature trees of Hagley Park and providing an
alternative when the city centre was out of bounds. The Hagley Park
complex will come to life once again tonight for the start of the
World Buskers Festival and will fill with crowds when the daytime
shows start tomorrow.
But, sadly, for the third festival in a row, there will be no
buskers in Cathedral Square.
It's disappointing because the city centre feels like a more
exciting and open place than it was a year ago.
Since the red zone cordons were taken down in June, there has been
an inspiring burst of creativity in the city centre.
There is colourful street art on once-blank walls, welcoming
sculptures like Julia Morrison's Tree Houses for Swamp Dwellers and
a Dance-O-Mat in the city centre.
While there are still a lot of empty sites, a few new buildings
are starting to take shape, including the restoration of the
Theatre Royal, which is due to reopen later this year.
The city centre is buzzing with creativity in a way it hasn't
for many years.
The festival could have added to that excitement and buzz.
But the buskers haven't turned their back on the city
The festival is edging into the fringes of the CBD, with a music
and a busker pitch in the Re:Start mall, cabaret in the Mashina
Lounge at Christchurch Casino and shows at the Christ's College
I can also understand how logistically difficult it would be to
stage a large festival with big crowds in such an unpredictable
city. Demolition work, sudden road closures, noisy machinery and
clouds of dust are not conducive to laughter.
And where would the crowds get a drink, find a toilet or
So, perhaps the city centre is not quite ready for the buskers
this year. And when a busker-induced fit of the giggles engulfs
you, it doesn't matter where you are.
While there may not be buskers in Cathedral Square this year, at
least the city centre feels like a more exciting place. It feels
closer to the day when laughter and crowds will once again return
to the true heart of the city.
- © Fairfax NZ News