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  • Dan Duguay

CBC Article Review

Taylor Braat recently interviewed me for a story on Calgary's Eau Claire Market. It was in conjunction with a Farewell Party that was hosted at the site as it sits ready to be demolished. In that interview, I inspired her to do a more in-depth analysis of busking. I mentioned that I thought busking was heading the way of the dodo bird.

The article's headline was initially confusing. The article described Eau Claire Market as a "prime venue". It was a prime busking area a quarter century ago. I'm happy they changed the title to the more accurate "Calgary buskers say the magic is fading with increasingly difficult landscape"

The article shifts from Eau Claire to the Calgary Downtown Association and Stephen Avenue, as that is more relevant to today's buskers. Mark Garner, the Executive Director of CDA describes their mission with busking as "We want to have it more prescriptive and more managed and a better quality". This translates to me to: "We want to be the gatekeepers and have quality control". The issue with that is many of the "buskers" we see on Stephen Ave these days are marginalized and need a space to make a few dollars on any given day. It's a task to find quality buskers when so few are taking up the practice or the good ones have moved on to paid gigs or onto another vocation all together.

Of course, no conversation about busking is complete without a mention about amplification and permitting. The article fails to mention that at the start of the 2024 season, Stephen Ave banned all amplification. I believe they have since retracted that policy and are focused on volume control (which makes more sense). It's also noted that they are issuing free permits and unlike in the past, no police background check is required.

It was once popular with circle show acts
The Eau Claire Amphitheater is now gone.

The article moves on to interview other buskers, namely James Jordan and Blaine Muzyka. They're good people to interview as they have been active in the downtown busking scene over the past 10-15 years where I have not. I'm a good friend of James' and recommended him to the reporter for an interview. He worked the outdoor amphitheater pitch at Eau Claire market for many years. (of which I didn't. As a non-musical performer, he has a much different experience as a busker than I do.

Blaine ends the article by stating the financial rewards aren't what they used to be, but he doesn't do it for the money. He does it for the satisfaction of performing for people. This is a sentiment I am hearing more and more. Artists don't do it for the money, because no one carries it anymore.

Do you have links to other news articles regarding busking? Please share them with me, as I love to get perspectives from other cities.

Thank you to Taylor Bratt for offering to shed some light on the subject of busking in Calgary!

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