Street performance or street performing is the act of entertaining people in public places for monetary or other rewards. It can be an art as well as a skill that requires years of practice to master. Street performance has been practiced since time immemorial and dates way back to antiquity. There are stories of famous street performers from early African kings to cavemen.
If you want to start performing street entertainers in your area, then you will have to acquire a permit. The requirements vary from city to city. In most cities it requires a city permit to operate a sidewalk spot for performing. Performing under the following conditions in most cities are required:
A good performer does not necessarily mean that he/she is good at street performing. A performer must have a passion for his/her art. If they truly do enjoy what they are doing, their talents will show and they will be rewarded with more audience or more income. In order to be a good street entertainer, a person has to love to perform. Street busking can be a career, if a person really loves it and has the drive to achieve success.
Most of the street performers are the descendants of African slaves who were brought to the Americas as well as to Britain, Ireland and India where they were employed as musicians, entertainers and street entertainers. These performers were known as ‘hams’, ‘jacks’ and ‘bammaros’. The word BAMmaro comes from the Spanish word banmar which means woodcarver. The streets of London and other cities around the globe were full of these woodcarvers.
It was these early African slaves who brought about the modern busking techniques that we know today. They would leave their homes on the outskirts of the city to perform magical acts, songs and dances to the satisfaction of the people they were hired to serve as street performers. Their skills at dancing and performing made them well-known to the people who hired them. Some of these African slaves became famous in their own right and their performances gained them enough popularity to be sent to Europe as emissaries or servants by the British.
There are many factors why the buskers of the early twentieth century began to draw more public attention. One of this was the growing concern of citizens and officials about the sanitation and health conditions prevalent in unsanitary public spaces. Street busking acts were routinely sued for disturbing the peace, nuisance and annoyance of pedestrian traffic. Some of the lawsuits had to do with the fact that some of the street performers caused increased pedestrian traffic in certain areas. Also, the fact that the performers did not get licenses for performing their arts in public spaces made some governments and citizens more skeptical about enforcement of codes related to sanitation and health conditions.
As the pressures mounted on the authorities to enforce certain codes and laws in regard to public spaces and sanitation issues, street performers began moving from areas frequented by pedestrians to less-visited areas in search of more stable income. Many of these buskers became itinerant street performers as a means of earning extra cash. Others started small and created their own businesses to supplement their income as performers of busking.
Today, street performers are still seen as a form of income generation for some. They still earn enough money to sustain their lifestyles and cover the costs of their performances. A good number of these street entertainers are members of street performance teams who travel to popular tourist destinations and other designated public places to entertain travelers and locals alike. They usually come to perform before large crowds so that they will be able to maximize their earning potential. The popularity and profitability of busking for some have made the profession something that aspiring performers can turn into if they have the drive and commitment it takes to do so.