Covid-19 means more Kiwi talent for Christchurch’s famous buskers festival
There were no international acts to make it a world buskers’ festival, but home-grown talent had no trouble entertaining the crowds in Christchurch on Saturday.
New Regent St was chosen for the music-backed extravaganza to launch this year’s event, marketing manager Dolan Cox saying the street was an “iconic” part of the central business district.
Cox said one of the intentions of the Bread and Circus Backyard Buskers’ Festival was to “reactivate the city centre”.
“We are taking over the street and filling it with random joy,” he said.
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“We’ve had such excellent engagement from the local businesses that we hope it becomes an annual event.”
The street was perfectly positioned to host for the performance, with opera singers serenading the audience from windows and balconies above the terraced shops.
Christchurch’s tram also came in useful, hosting a juggler and a brass band and deftly negotiating the crowds to the performers to the stage.
Despite a lack of international artists, Cox said Covid-19 had almost been a blessing for the festival, with many Kiwi acts available who would normally have been based overseas.
“It actually turned into a real opportunity – it forced the festival to rediscover talent in our own backyard,” he said.
“Performers that would normally be in China or Germany are here because of lockdown.”
One of those is foot juggler Emma Phillips, who had been preparing for a year-long tour of Germany and Austria before the pandemic struck.
She was joined by (hand) jugglers, hula-hoopers, a string quartet, a drag queen, and music from Split Enz covers to opera.
While there was a lot of close mingling and very few face masks, there were still QR code check-in points at either end of the street, and festival director Scott Maidment said people were encouraged to sign in before performances.
Not all took that advice, but many did, including Peter Bee from Prebbleton.
“[I’m scanning] because it’s the right thing to do,” he said.
“It’s good to get into the habit in case things kick off.”