Busking: begging, bartering or bestowing?

When I told one of my friends that I was going to perform this summer on the street she said “its good that you are exploring other life styles.” It made me wonder, what people think of street performers. Are they beggars begging for money, business people bartering with their performance or artists bestowing their craft?

Check out this video I took while in Paris:

Would you consider these guys beggars, business people or artists?

Personally I don’t think anyone who is offering you something in return for another is a beggar.  I have seen quite a few street performers in my time and I’m here to tell ya, most of them have been quite talented.

I’m not sure people fully understand how much practice goes into a performance. To put it in perspective, I could literally spend hours, if not days, just learning one tune. I can’t even imagine how long it took that juggler to learn to juggle fire without hurting himself or that tight rope water who learned to ride a unicycle on a rope smaller than my pinky finger. To even imply that street performers are beggars I think is just plain silly.

Most performers I know, have spent hours, months and years learning how to do the very thing they love the most. The passion for their craft and the joy of sharing it with others is why they perform.  But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get paid for what they do.

So I ask you again are street performers begging, bartering or bestowing. What do you think?

4 thoughts on “Busking: begging, bartering or bestowing?

  1. When I come across street performers, I have always felt it a blend of bestow and barter. First, the bestow- there it is for free to see. If you enjoyed it and would like to see it again sometime (or think others would enjoy it as well), that’s where the barter choice comes in.

    1. Sure there are street performers whose act is merely a guise for begging. However, I see most as graciously bestowing their talents in exchange for pay. They enjoy performing, the audience enjoys the show, everyone wins and isn’t our economy built on this simple idea?
      Having said that I don’t think there should be an expectation of payment on either end. Good people will happily pay when they can.

    2. Street life is very marginal. Where ever you are there are many restrictions and challenges. There’s usually no gold on the pavement. The majority of people are not kind but it can have good moments such as busking can teach you good people skills, how to tolerate others and also perfect your craft such as music as an example. Without years of regular busking with my harmonica, accordion or guitar and wouldn’t be the player I am now. To be a good musician busking is essential in my circumstances. I only manage pocket change usually but the end result has lead to other opportunities such as producing my own music and spreading the word of Christ as a catholic. It’s a great calling as we’re only passing through this world once.

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