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More than a quarter of a million people attended the World Buskers Festival in Christchurch late last month.
Running from the 19-29 January, the festival reclaimed the streets of the central city for the first time since the 2011 earthquakes and festival director, Melissa Haberfield says that was a hit with performers and audiences alike.
“They all loved it,” she says. “The performers are used to performing on the street, it’s an important part of who they are and what they do. The audiences loved being out in the city, in the sun being entertained.”
Haberfield says the decision to hold the festival a week later was also key to the success.
“More families are back from being away on holiday, and we saw so many of them out together enjoying the shows, both at day and night. Businesses are back at work and we loved seeing whole offices pile into the street at lunchtimes to see the performances.”
Organisers say the success of the festival has a hugely positive effect on the city as a whole in many different ways.
“I worked at as many shows as I could and I watched people laughing, smiling and interacting with each other. That’s got to be good for our wellbeing. Then there’s the positive economic effects with businesses being busier and some even having to take on extra staff to cope,” says Haberfield.
Fiddlesticks is one such business. Co-owner Keith Anderson says it was one of the busiest trading weeks since opening over 4 years ago, and the energy and vibrancy around the restaurant and bar was amazing.
“I worked on Oxford Terrace for 12 years and this was a return to that kind of peak summer buzz we used to see along there,” he says. “At the lights, there would be 60- 70 people crossing at once, watching shows every 45 minutes; it was awesome.”
This year’s success bodes well for next year which will be the festivals 25th birthday.
Haberfield says, “It should be quite a celebration. Planning starts soon and we are all looking forward to 2018.”
(note: financial information will be available in June/July as the financial year for the Trust ends 30 June 2017)
Headliner, Nina Conti sold out all 10 shows well in advance and an additional matinee show within 48 hours (11 shows in total, with 900 in each audience)
Other sell-out shows:
The Art Gallery had significant increase in numbers of walk-in public due to number of people coming into the city and their forecourt to watch shows.
Artist response to the change in location of festival and the way the organisers looked after them has been immensely positive.