Adding vibrancy to our streets and public venues through busking
Speech by Mr Baey Yam Keng, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth & Transport in response to the Adjournment Motion: Taking Busking to the Next Level, by Louis Ng (Member of Parliament for Nee Soon GRC)
05 August 2019
Mr Louis Ng has filed an adjournment motion for Parliament on taking busking to the next level. It makes four recommendations to further improve Singapore’s Busking Scheme: (i) for buskers to be allocated five busking areas instead of five busking sites, (ii) create a busking app, (iii) have a ballot system for certain busking hotspots, and (iv) have specific busking sites for circus acts, at specific timeslots.
- Mr Speaker, I thank Mr Ng for his suggestions to improve the Busking Scheme in Singapore.
Busking in Singapore
- The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) agrees with Mr Ng that busking adds vibrancy to our streets and public venues, and showcases the creative energy and talent of our performers to public audiences. In managing the Busking Scheme, the National Arts Council (NAC) stands guided by the priorities outlined in Our SG Arts Plan. These include nurturing creative excellence, connecting communities through the arts, and presenting Singapore’s diverse arts and culture to as wide an audience as possible.
- NAC is committed to working with its partners to improve the Busking Scheme, and ensuring that it grows in a manner that benefits performers, venue owners and audiences alike. Since its introduction in the 1990s, the Busking Scheme has undergone several enhancements due to feedback from members of the public, venue owners, buskers, and government agencies. For example, NAC has increased the frequency and capacity of busking auditions in response to growing interest over the years, especially from younger performers who want to express their artistic interests. Currently, there are about 300 endorsed buskers under the Busking Scheme, with 1 in 2 buskers below the age of 35. This is more than double the number and proportion in 2008. To cater to this demand, NAC has worked with venue owners to increase the number of designated busking locations. Where there had been only three locations when the Busking Scheme was first started, there are now 81 locations across Singapore for busking – from Suntec City and Tanjong Pagar to Lot One and Downtown East.
Partnerships to improve the Busking Scheme
- Notwithstanding these developments, we recognise that the utilisation of busking locations can be uneven, and there is sometimes intense competition for locations deemed to have higher footfall and visibility. NAC therefore welcomes suggestions from members of the community – like Mr Ng and our buskers. NAC will be happy to work with Mr Ng to trial allocation mechanisms such as balloting and the designation of sites for busking, in his Nee Soon GRC. In this regard, I am delighted to learn that Mr Ng has identified two new locations for busking in Yishun, and invited interested parties like Timbre+ (“Timbre Plus”) to pilot new busking models with him. NAC will also take up Mr Ng’s suggestion of using technology like apps, to share information.
- To help us ensure that the busking scheme succeeds, owners and managers of busking locations must also be on board. They must be comfortable opening their venues for busking and with the type of busking acts being performed, for example circus acts, and also be confident that buskers will be respectful towards the space and the different members of the public who use it. Busking that is congruent with the identity of the space will help to create value, and thereby help busking flourish with strong public support. NAC is currently in discussion with some venue owners and managers to explore different models, including Mr Ng’s suggestion for buskers to be allocated busking areas instead of sites, to shape the busking experience on their premises with them. For example, NAC is in discussion with Singapore River One, the venue manager for Singapore River, to explore ways to enhance the busking experience along Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay in a holistic manner. NAC is also working with *SCAPE, which is already a designated busking location in Orchard Road, to assess how current spaces can cater to a greater diversity of performances. NAC and *SCAPE intend to test new ideas to better support the aspirations of our buskers today, especially the youth, such as through performance spaces that showcase budding youth talents. This, along with other ideas, are currently being considered as we work together with youths to co-create a master plan to develop the Somerset Belt into a vibrant youth district that supports their aspirations and interests.
- I encourage other venue owners and managers to contact NAC if they are similarly keen to re-imagine how busking can add to the vibrancy of their spaces.
- It is heartening that individuals who are passionate about busking have already decided to come together, to take greater ownership of the busking scene in Singapore. I welcome the initiative of Jonathon, Fadhil, Yong Kang, Benjamin, Firdaus, and Marcus to register a Busking Association. NAC is already engaging the new Busking Association to co-create and co-develop a code of practice for our busking community. This seeks to encourage good busking etiquette among our buskers, as well as sensitivity to the different groups who use the public spaces where busking takes place. Mr Speaker, in Mandarin please.
- 副议长先生，黄国光议员提到的街头表演者唐玉璇不幸于今年三月逝世。其实熟悉新谣的朋友应该会记得玉旋，连同蔡淳佳和蔡礼莲，就是家喻户晓的本地创作《细水长流》的女生原唱者。像玉璇的街头表演者不但能展示自己的才华，也为我国的公共场地增添活力，更有艺术魅力。国家艺术理事会将继续与各界的合作伙伴，包括街头表演者、业主、场地管理人员，进一步加强 “街头表演计划” 。我希望更多街头艺术爱好者能与政府携手合作，集思广益；我也呼吁公众多留意和支持街头表演者，让我国的街头艺术如《细水长流》般地继续发扬和传承下去。
- In conclusion, I thank Mr Ng for his suggestions, initiatives and commitment to bring busking to the next level. We look forward to our continued partnership with him, the busking community and venue partners, as well as the support of the public, to achieve our shared vision for a vibrant and sustainable arts and culture scene in Singapore.
- Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Last updated on 06 August 2019