CHANGES to how busking works in Peel St have been defended by Tamworth Regional Council’s events unit, despite loud and mounting criticism.
The council says it could not have predicted how popular the new concept has been, saying the showcasing of the best of the busking talent on Peel St had proved so popular that it had resulted in a huge volume of new registrations from buskers who had never before been to Tamworth.
Caroline Hurley from Destination Tamworth said last night many of the new buskers arriving in Tamworth for the first time were excited by the changes as it gave them the opportunity to showcase their talent.
But the 2013 experiment aimed at regulating who and where buskers played along the Boulevard of Dreams has been labelled a failure by many of those wanting to perform and by the fans who want to listen to them.
After a weekend that revealed less than the usual numbers of buskers on shop doors and Peel St footpaths, and with the criticism increasing, it is believed the events unit had a series of meetings yesterday to deal with the issues.
Ms Hurley said council was asking for the co-operation of buskers.
“Busking co-ordinators have been allocating shorter timeframes in an effort to ensure that all buskers get a chance to perform,” Ms Hurley said.
“Peel St is filling up quickly with a great number of talented buskers and buskers are being allocated spots on a rota basis.”
Responses to a poll conducted on The Leader’s website suggested 70 per cent of people didn’t believe the new regulations had improved the festival atmosphere.
Those who left comments were, for the most part, very critical of the new process.
One fan suggested the changes, which wiped out the previous open-door policy on the Boulevard of Dreams in favour of auditioning artists for poll positions in Peel St, and scheduling that sees multiple artists share one spot on rotation, were “killing the festival spirit”.
“I think the council has added another nail in the coffin of what I believe is the dying of the country music festival,” the fan said.
“Each year we see numbers of visitors decline.
“Walking down Peel St it was astounding to see the pitiful number of buskers. Maybe the buskers have decided to give Tamworth the big flick.”
A Tamworth local suggested busking was where artists launched their careers.
“We are Tamworth, not Nashville, and to spend money on sending council staff to Nashville to see how it should be done was a waste of money and it has proved that it has made our festival worse, get back to being an Aussie and stop trying to be an American,” he said.
“There are buskers here from Victoria who give their donations to a charity and they have been sent to the park to sing starting Monday, so they and many others have spent thee or four days in our town not being able to busk at all, what a disgrace.”
“Nomad Jim” said other fans he had spoken to were disappointed by the changes.
“Many (buskers) come to Tamworth as nomads to enjoy familiar country songs,” he said.
The busking changes were announced last October bringing new rules for buskers to register online and upload clips and small profiles to YouTube.
An audition process then saw the best allocated spots on Peel St, with others allocated to Kable Ave and Bicentennial Park.
The “strategic” changes came in the wake of previous festival post mortems where the issues of “over crowding”‘ excessive volume levels and performers being “drowned out” by louder genres of music, were raised. The changes for 2013 were introduced in an effort to solve those problems.