Authorities to engage with buskers after Orchard Road ban during the festive season

Photo: Buskers’ Association Singapore
Photo: Buskers’ Association Singapore

Singapore buskers were recently told that they were not allowed to perform at several locations on Orchard Road from 7pm to 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays in December. 

The decision was disappointing to The Buskers’ Association Singapore, which released a statement condemning the restrictions on busking activities along Orchard Road during major peak hours in December. 

“The irony is not lost that in this season of giving, NAC is in fact taking away both the enjoyment of the public as well as the livelihood of such buskers by banning busking activities,” the association wrote.

The restrictions also coincides with a period where most people would be in Orchard Road to soak up the Christmas atmosphere – providing buskers a good time to showcase their craft and also earn some money. 

However, buskers will still be able to busk at Orchard Road from Sunday to Thursday from 10am to 10pm, and on Friday and Saturday from 10am to 7pm; and at all the other locations islandwide.

It also urged the National Arts Council (NAC) to reconsider the decision which the NAC has taken into account. 

According to a report on Channel News Asia, NAC had sent an email to the association and all endorsed buskers saying that they are in talks with the Singapore Police Force and “relevant parties” on the matter and “hope to engage the busking community next week.” 

The email also said, “We have heard your feedback and sentiment with regards to the change in busking hours at eight locations along Orchard Road. We understand the frustrations and would like to assure you that due consideration was given with regards to this arrangement.”

The Singapore Police Force put up a recent post citing the Itaewon incident in Seoul as an example of why crowd control is important.  

The statement mentioned, “The Korean Itaewon incident is a reminder that public safety cannot be taken for granted. The Police must never compromise on public safety, and we hope for the understanding and cooperation of all stakeholders participating or involved in the organisation of the year-end festivities.”

Despite the busking restrictions on Orchard Road, there will still be live music at the affected locations on the same key dates in December as part of the Great Christmas Village, the annual festive event organized by the Orchard Road Business Association (ORBA).

Besides the issue of the restrictions, the CNA article also mentioned that there has been much unhappiness regarding NAC’s busking portal. The portal was launched Mar. 29 this year to help NAC and the buskers regulate performing slots and venues. 

In the past, buskers had to negotiate for space and timings with other buskers.

With the portal, busking sites and times are listed online, so buskers must make a booking before performing. It was set up to afford buskers greater flexibility to plan their schedules and confirmed spots to busk at.

However, this system has apparently also created competition for popular busking spots. 

To keep up the spirits, NAC said it will work to improve the portal and also encouraged buskers to bring the Christmas cheer to other equally important locations. 

RELATED:

Singapore buskers ‘condemn’ ban for performing at Orchard during peak December
Here’s what you won’t hear in Orchard Road at peak hour in December: Christmas carols.
Singapore buskers ‘condemn’ ban for performing at Orchard during peak December
Here’s what you won’t hear in Orchard Road at peak hour in December: Christmas carols.

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