Singapore buskers ‘condemn’ ban for performing at Orchard during peak December

A busker performing at Buskers’ Lab in 2021. Photo: Roganyeohfotografi/Facebook
A busker performing at Buskers’ Lab in 2021. Photo: Roganyeohfotografi/Facebook

The National Arts Council’s decision to ban buskers from performing in bustling Orchard during one of the most festive months has caused a chorus of dismay among the performers.

The Buskers’ Association Singapore yesterday released a statement saying that they are “completely disheartened” and “condemns” the Council’s ban on busking activities along Orchard Road during major peak hours of December.

The affected dates are Dec. 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 30, 31, from 7 to 10pm.

The dates also coincide with a period where most people would be in Orchard Road to soak up the Christmas atmosphere. 

“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 announcement on Nov. 14 via email explained that the ban was made with “considerations for public safety” and “advisories from the relevant agencies.”

The association calls upon NAC to reconsider its decision and asked the Council to be transparent with the advisories they mentioned from agencies.

It was a “shock” to hear that buskers can pose a threat to the public’s safety as performers do work with the security of nearby malls to ensure crowd control, the association added.

Also, busking plays a part in creating the mood and atmosphere in Orchard Road, even more so during festive seasons.

The association also took the chance to complain about NAC’s new booking system enacted in March. They said the system had become a “tool” that has granted the Council more control over the locations and timings.

The association expects NAC to consult with buskers first before enacting such bans.

“We sincerely hope that NAC can use this opportunity to salvage any credibility and goodwill it has left among the buskers,” the association wrote.

It seems that more crowd control efforts have been prioritized and put in place for festive activities after the recent Halloween disaster in Itaewon, Seoul, where 156 people were killed during a stampede as a result of bad crowd planning. 

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