Can Hong Kong street performers find their way out of the policy fog?
I am writing in response to your article on the ousted Mong Kok buskers taking their act to the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, provoking angry protests (“Buskers from Mong Kok driven out of Tsim Sha Tsui by angry protesters”, August 11).
The protesters had banners reading “begging is illegal” and shouted slogans like “give me Star Ferry pier back”. One even said: “Go back to mainland China! Go back to the Bay Area to sing red songs”.
Such confrontations are unfortunate. Street performances are an important part of a city’s cultural life, and I believe the Hong Kong government should devise a better policy on this. It can learn from other big cities around the world. London, for instance, has a street performance licensing system, including for the Underground, which gives up-and-coming musicians a feel of performing for crowds, and lets them earn some money along the way. Brisbane asks that performers audition and get licences for some locations, while elsewhere its permit-free.
In Hong Kong, the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority launched a street performance scheme three years ago for the city to better appreciate the culture of busking, make good use of public space and promote its unique street vibes. The programme requires applicants to pass auditions before getting a permit to perform in the open spaces of the cultural district, and successful acts can perform from 10am to 10pm every day at several locations along the waterfront district.
However, we don’t know whether that scheme has been a success, as buskers still seem to prefer touristy and more easily accessible areas like Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui and Causeway Bay.
Jane Cai, Tseung Kwan O