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London joins towns and cities across the UK for first National Busking Day

24th June 2015

London will host a massive party featuring live music and street performance, when it joins forces with towns cities across the country for the first ever National Busking Day on Saturday 18 July.

Across the capital there will be performances in shopping centres, high streets, parks and railway stations. Up and down the country, iconic locations as well as Network Rail stations will be enlivened with music and street performance, including Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton, Canterbury, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Liverpool, Manchester, Margate, Newcastle-Gateshead, Norwich and York.

Trafalgar Square will be at the heart of the nationwide festival, with an unprecedented line-up of specially chosen performers from across the UK, Europe, the USA, Australia, Chile and Argentina bringing music, magic, street dance, physical theatre, street art, plus delicious food.

Other locations around the country will include Brighton Pavilion Gardens; Castle Street, Edinburgh, with the castle as backdrop; the Sage in Gateshead; Glasgow Buchanan Street; Liverpool One; and the newly opened Dreamland in Margate. Details of other pitches and locations will be released soon.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “We are thrilled to be joining up with other cities around the UK for the first ever National Busking Day. It’s going to be a great day, with talented street performers bringing their magic to our city centres, railway stations and squares. One of the things that make London such a vibrant city is the casual way you can encounter a wonderful piece of music or dance or even magic on the streets. It’s this spirit of creativity that makes our city so welcoming. I hope this initiative will encourage all cities around the UK to value our fantastic street performers even more.”

City of Edinburgh Council’s Culture leader, Councillor Richard Lewis said: “Edinburgh’s buskers and street performers are vital to the buzzing outdoor atmosphere during August and all year round. During the Edinburgh International Fringe – the largest arts festival in the world – registered buskers can entertain a footfall of close to one million people on the Royal Mile leading to Edinburgh being named one of the top 10 places in the world to busk. On Saturday 18 July, I look forward to hearing locals and visitors to Edinburgh make music in the city’s streets.”

Cabinet Member for Communities and Facilities at Newcastle City Council, Councillor David Stockdale said: “Buskers make a huge contribution to the cultural vibrancy of Newcastle and the buzz around the city centre. This is a fantastic initiative and we look forward to doing our bit towards National Busking Day.”

Estate Director of Liverpool ONE, Chris Bliss said: “Shoppers, tourists and families visiting Liverpool expect to see and hear musical talent. Music is in our blood, so at Liverpool ONE we love nothing more to offer an eclectic mix of sounds everyone can enjoy every day. Busking is the perfect way for us to entertain visitors whilst providing a fitting stage for local artists. National Busking Day on 18 July happens to take place during our annual piano festival, Tickle the Ivories, so we’re looking forward to experiencing something extra special this year.”

Chief Executive of Destination Bristol, John Hirst said: “Here in Bristol we encourage and welcome quality buskers. They add to the atmosphere and do a lot to encourage our visitors to stay longer and enjoy the streets of Bristol. Variety and quality are key and we look forward to being part of National Busking Day here in Bristol this summer.”

National Busking Day is part of a wider drive to promote and support street performance and enhance London’s status as a city of music and entertainment. Street performance has been part of London life for centuries, enriching the capital and bringing public spaces to life. It has been shown to not only enhance the experience of public spaces for shoppers, visitors and commuters, but also helps increase footfall and the amount of time people will stay in an area.

Cities like Bristol, Liverpool, York and Edinburgh also have reputations for supporting busking and street performance, which have played an important role in the careers of many artists, including Ed Sheeran, Passenger, Frank Turner and Eddie Izzard.

The broadcaster Bob Harris, reknowned for his work presenting on Radio 1 and 2, as well as the legendary Old Grey Whistle Test, said: “Busking is an important part of our musical history and culture, a time honoured way for young musicians to hone their skills, learn to be brave and get their music across to people. The experience is challenging, inspiring and rewarding and I am proud to be a part of the UK’s first National Busking Day.”

Andrew Parsons, Managing Director, Ticketmaster UK, said: “Artists like Ed Sheeran started out busking on the street and we have all seen what a meteoric rise to fame he has had since. As a brand, we love working with these big stars but we are also passionate about the next generation of talent, which is why we have teamed up with Busk In London for National Busking Day. We look forward to unearthing and celebrating all of the amazing talent out there with the Mayor of London and this fantastic initiative.”

Gareth Powell, London Underground’s Director of Strategy and Service Development, said: “Busking on the Underground network has been a rite of passage for London musicians for generations, and buskers today are brightening up journeys for millions of daily Tube passengers. We’re committed to nurturing this iconic tradition and are delighted to support the first ever National Busking Day.”

In March, the Mayor launched Busk in London, the world’s first ever city-wide street performance scheme, which aims to make street performance much easier in the capital and includes London’s first Busker’s Code, common sense guidance devised by performers, councils, businesses and the police.

National Busking Day also kicks off the Busk in London Festival, which runs for three consecutive weekends in July and August. It also heralds the start of live performances by young musicians who have entered this year’s Gigs, the Mayor’s annual busking competition. Talented youngsters aged 11-25 will get the chance to perform in high profile locations across the capital, get their music heard and hone their performance skills much like top artists in the music industry did when starting out.

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