Celtic Festival wants more to apply

Appreciative audiences at the Celtic Festival this year.
Appreciative audiences at the Celtic Festival this year.

You may be a secret strummer or a phantom fiddler, humbly playing your beloved instrument for your own pleasure at home.

But maybe you’ve secretly dreamed of showing your skills to a wider audience.

The Celtic Festival will offer you that chance. It’s been honing the rules in an effort to get more buskers involved next May.

Busking is not as simple as just letting people stand and perform on the street. There is the matter of insurance, particularly public liability insurance.

Three years ago, the council took over the role of paying for insurance. Before that performers had to buy their own and this deterred most. They would have to insure against injury to the public as a result of their performance, say if someone tripped over a wire for an amplifier or was hit by traffic as they stepped around a performer.

This amounted to taking out cover for $20 million, with buskers having to pay a modest premium for relatively low risk acts but much higher for performers of a circus-style or street theatre act.

One insurer estimates a cost of about $70 for relatively safe acts but rising to $250 for those involving fire or animals – imagine a magician who has all kinds of flashes in his act plus pulling a live rabbit out of a hat.

The Glen Innes festival took tips from the Tamworth Country Music Festival and organised collective insurance paid for by the council. Lara Gresham who chairs the Celtic Festival committee said that the change meant that last year ago there were six buskers, this year there were 13 and she hopes more this coming year.

Buskers will have to get a permit – if they don’t, a council official will be patrolling and will tell those who don’t display the document that they need to get one from the Visitor Information Centre before playing. The application for the permit can be made through the festival’s website.

There’s a difference between buskers in the street who play only for what people drop in the hat and performers at the Festival main events.  

Businesses can have the services of the paid professional performers. They are contracted to the event and part of the deal is that organisers can schedule them to perform at other venues throughout the Festival. Pubs, shops or restaurants could ask for a performer and be allocated one for a set time.

Lara Gresham told a meeting of Business in Glen that businesses which wanted a performer needed to register their interest: 

There may be .businesses which have approached performers and already hired them for a fee when they would have been available at no extra charge through the festival. Lara Gresham urged them not to try to renegotiate the price down to zero.

Lara Gresham is keen that busking is organised through the festival organisers. She told a meeting of Business in Glen that businesses which wanted a busker outside their premises needed to register their interest: “Sign up for a busker outside your shop.”

Buskers would be centrally organised and then allocated to places and times in town.

There may be .businesses which have approached buskers directly and agreed to pay them. They wuill learn that they could have got the service free if they had gone through the organisers. Lara Gresham urged them not to try to renegotiate the price down to zero.

“I just ask you to be honest”, she said to the business people.