Professional Street Performers

Walking through the fairs and markets and myriad of festivals that take place right across the country throughout summer, the number of street performers, and the quality of their work, can often be overlooked or taken for granted.

At one end of the spectrum are people who are having a go at some sort of performance simply to test themselves in front of an audience. A dare gone wrong perhaps, but more likely someone who has some level of talent who wants to see how far they can push themselves in the quest for personal development.

These people may or may not have talent (more often the latter if the truth be known). They obviously think they do have something to offer but are yet to test themselves in front of an audience or a professional in their field. Busking is actually a great way of getting the first slice of public feedback. If the person has no talent then the money box in front of them will probably remain empty and the number of people staying to watch the show will be few and far between. Perhaps this busker will consider other options.

At the other end of the spectrum are performers that travel around the country with itineraries that are carefully planned to have them in front of the largest crowds at the major fairs and events. These people know they are good at their profession because they can hold a crowd and they make a reasonable living from their daily takings.

Some festivals (the St Kilda Festival in Melbourne each February for example) actually make a feature of street artists and have a roster of artists, some of who come from overseas, for the duration of the festival. These artists don't just turn up on the day hoping to get a gig. They are vetted months in advance and selected based on their history, type of show and quality of performance.

Many of these shows involve acts that an amateur simply wouldn't consider doing. Swallowing swords, breathing fire, doing a handstand on an upside down chair that is balancing on another upside down chair and so on.

These performers will often let their audience know that they are professional entertainers that live on their takings. Unlike amateur buskers they do have travel costs and probably some weird sort of insurance that will cover a sword going down the wrong way. Even the sad eyed dog will have pet insurance to cover his role in the show.

So next time you see a street performer, stay for a bit and consider whether the show you are seeing is good. If it is, give them a clap and some change for the next leg of their tour.

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