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Old 01-27-02, 11:26 PM   #21
Steven Ragatz
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Perhaps you should contact the festival's casting people now and establish an "official" spot for next year's event. If you want to play the game with everyone else, then simply play by the same rules. If you don't want to play the same game, then simply don't be bothered when they shake their finger and scold you.

I think that it amounts to your particular comfort level. If you feel comfortable working within the system, then by all means, take advantage of the unique opportunity that having a festival produced in your back yard offers. If you feel like your work is being cheapen by the commercialism that such an organized events brings, then either make your statement by confronting the authority, or book a gig somewhere else during the festival. Remember, one person's "sucking dick" is another person's "professionalism".

If you can be honest with the level of risk you are willing to incur, then do your work in the way you need to do it, and accept the consequences. Whatever happens, if you leave with your pride, and hopefully some cash, then you have accomplished your goal.

Any performing situation, whether it be street, circus or theater, requires a certain political decorum. Sometimes it's a complex as playing by the rules when you don't really want to in order to achieve some higher goal. Other times it's as simple as "Don't piss off the guy with the badge."

Steven Ragatz

(Ignorant in the ways of busking festivals, but well aware that most people just want to be treated with dignity and respect.)
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Old 01-27-02, 11:30 PM   #22
Mr.Taxi Trix
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Well, how about the opposite? For the record, I cut my teeth performing in Harvard Square in the mid 80's, and worked for a season busking and washing dishes in Key West before hitching across country and busking full time in California, and returning East for years more of the same, often creating pitches where none existed before. I've done the street as a sole means of income, and am entirely capable of generating good money anywhere, English speaking or no, where public performance is allowed. (and even where it aint, though I've been jailed for that) I'm also a father, and over the past 12 years have developed a preference for the sure money gigs. Cruise ship, corporate, private, and yes, some festivals, the festivals being by far the most fun.

I still love the freedom of the street, still do some (not much) street, and Lucky, we are not so different as you think. You remind me in your tone of a man who told me I was a sellout for driving a car and buying into a corrupt system, then needed a ride. I agree with much of what you say, and disagree strongly with your self-congratulatory tone. Drives me nuts. Sorry for the name calling, you did not reduce yourself to that. Well done. I also understand the type of act that works fests and would die on the real street, and have been told by this type of performer that my juggling/uni comedy show lacks originality. They can tell that to my bust out laughing crowds. But I see a fest that provides a platform for acts that would not otherwise perform on the street as a good thing. I LIKE to see something that isn't sure fire, its not my path, but I welcome it. I think that by and large, street performing festivals add more to the street than they subtract from it.

2 summers ago I worked a little festival in Orangeville, a total write off from day one. They were "honoring" local talent at that fest as well as international, and some lame local guy ate my lunch, had a crowd going on my assigned pitch during a (rare) good slot, and just pissed me right off, I'll tell you straight. Its also sad for me when friends from the UK stay here and work fests which pass me over as too local, but one thing is for sure, I wouldn't crash one. Ya gotta know when you're not wanted. There is a freedom in creating performance options beyond the street.
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Old 01-27-02, 11:38 PM   #23
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recovering button pusher,


[ 01-28-2002: Message edited by: Lucky Diamond Rich ]

[ 01-28-2002: Message edited by: Lucky Diamond Rich ]</p>
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Old 01-28-02, 12:36 PM   #24
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Lee, I have seen your frustration in not getting accepted into your local street festival, albeit from the other side of the issue. I have had to turn down applications from "local" artists in years past, and there are a number of reasons why, from my perspective:

-balancing geography
-fests book in local/domestic and international acts; there have to be a limited number of spots available, and not all local artists can be accomodated at one time

-audience interest
-part of the mix is to keep things fresh for the (mostly local) audience; it's possible for a local artist to be overexposed in their community, meaning the fest producer may have to reach for something else to continue to draw

-if there are already a number of skill-based (or magic or dance or whatever) artists booked for the fest, and yours is a skill-based show, you might be out of luck

-there are *lots* of local artists who clamour to get into their local festival because they feel they have a right to be there, but they still have to demonstrate they have the street chops to compare with the other artists that are being presented (I doubt this is the situation in your case;-). It's setting the artist up to draw weak circles when scheduled up against their more effervescent brethren, and it weakens the festival "product" as a whole to present less than stellar acts simply because they're available.

-a number of festivals have guidelines (some call them rules) in place that govern how often an artist may appear at the fest - most often I've seen a "not within two years" and "no more than alternate years" rules of thumb in place

Perhaps an out lies in not just asking to present your circle show. Have you tried to offer the producer and the audience something new? A roving character? A piece of street theatre? A site-specific piece that works off local architecture or politics?

Or maybe you can use your local appeal to best advantage - host or MC one of the group shows/ensemble shows/cabaret nights at the fest. Use *your* draw and your strength with the local audiences to help build the show in general (for a fee, of course!).

I'm not suggesting you throw yourselves at the feet of your local producer, but a little creative thinking might go a long way. Realistically, you can't expect to have your circle show presented at the same fest to the same audiences year after year. But you should be able and/or encouraged to be a participant in some way.

You don't really say why you were turned down. Have you asked?

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Old 01-28-02, 10:27 PM   #25
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Only somewhat similar, but here is my approach to a similar situation:
Local producer throws a parade (to the benifit of a handful of bars) and expects all the local stilt performers to PAY $25 to be in the parade!!!! This is in a LARGE city, but they "don't have a budget".

I made a couple of contacts, and now I'm getting paid to perform out of town on the same day. Smaller venue, but a true community event. I'm going to have fun, AND get paid. All for the price of an internet search and a couple of phone calls.

Bye the way, WHO dropped the card in the hat? Your festival organizer? ouch! Or an out of town busker who didn't like your show?

In any case, good luck.

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Old 01-28-02, 11:53 PM   #26
Peter Voice
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You can bet your arse that it wasn't Jodi Wright (ChCh Busker's Fest supremo) who put the card in the hat. For a start, she is honest and blunt and will always tell you what she thinks, to your face. If she organised or approved a spot for you to work then she would defend, not erode, your right to perform. I cannot imagine her writing such a prissy missive to any-one, it's not her style.
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Old 01-29-02, 01:52 AM   #27
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Well there is heaps to respond to there so Ill elaborate and hope that clarifies.
The card definately came from Jodi - it wasnt here but it was delivered by a buskers festival t-shirt and it was here personalised business card so I'd say it would have to be her style.

The getting other work thing.....had it organised but due to unseasonal summer flash flooding over the entire length of the sth island the only bridge serviceing the event had been washed several kilometers downstream and thus the event was cancelled on 5 days notice.

The overexposure thing....I hear ya and I agree with you to an extent but the reality is the average market I perform to is 75%tourist.

The talking thing....many are the times that the local performers have approached the organiser in regard to a locals pitch, granted I havent done it personally but due to the fact that there still isnt one after x amount of years I didnt choose to spend my energy in that direction this year as others had. Instead we approached the festival approx 10 mths before date and questioned what we needed to do to get in. We were just told to see festival on a given date as that was when it talked to locals. On the given date we spoke to the festival (eagerly clutching PR stuff) and were told by the festival not to bother as they were now only searching for female solo acts. They wouldnt even watch the video. I could say that we never had a chance but maybe I should have ignored the instruction and just hassled anyway all year.

I have never personally crashed an event before, that was my first time and I was pissed off. Normally I get paid or I approach the organiser if I think that being at the festival will be better than being at a pitch known to me. They are almost always supportive.

No-one has really taken me up on what I first wrote though.
Does a festival have the right to stop the natural trading of local street performers? Especially when they commandeer their pitches. I am not the only victim on the last weekend...almost every local performer has recieved a similiar card over recent years...some have them pinned to their walls.
As street performers when we choose to work in the purest form we are above the law, to an extent. We work our own way where we choose or we definately do in Aus / NZ in most places and I have worked most places in various incarnations over the last 5 or 6 years. A festival that champions this artform is also stifling it in this city. Granted it only affects us for a month but it is crap month and in peak season too.

Still havent decided whether to beat myself up or not give a crap. I do have dreams of working here oneday and performing to the ready made crowds that the festival provides but I have slowly developed a chip on my tall lanky acrobat shoulders that tells me that I could live without it and have lived without it for a long time


P.S - will be in Queenstown on Feb 4 for a festival LDR if youll be there. It will be good to see your new face. I met you in Melbourne at Port Fairy and Bourke St when I was touring as part of the Dry Water Synchronised Swimming Team and later again in Darling Harbour when I was working with Conrade in the Professional Idiots.
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Old 01-29-02, 10:33 PM   #28
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Jodi does a good job of organising the festival however it pays not to loose sight of the fact that it makes her money and is run by a company she operates.
The arts center is one of New zealands ( if not the) best street performance venues. Potentially. Unfortunately for those who work the smaller pitches during the year theres a rule thats basicly the bottom line that can be invoked during the festivals and at other times when needed. Because its all run by a trust it is designated as private land and regulated as such.
I have 2 beefs, one is that the courtyard where the main dux pitch is used to be the best weekend pitch in the country until stalls selling nick nacs were, without notice expanded to smother it.
Really annoyed me as its my home town and once again we're shafted.
and the other thing is that for a number of years now jodi's been taking a percentage of the evening busks.
I have problems with that.
The pub that seats and services the punters for the fest has its most profitable 10 days of the year, they jack up their prices and charge the performers the normal rate and call it a discount.
Its well beyond a chummy get-together for us street folk.
Its a massive earner. which as anyone will tell you is great business.
For the pub owner especially.
This year is the first I havn't attended for about 10 years.
I'm disgruntled which will probably come as a shock to nobody.
My point is that legally you should be aware that in some admin circles its seen as generousity that you are allowed to work the arts center at all and while the fest is on its felt that you really should dissapear. theres only one local performer who's done the fest more times than me and his name is patrick duffy and if it wern't for him the festival and in fact a major portion of the south island, would not exist.
Should have put this in rants really
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Old 01-30-02, 06:54 AM   #29
Peter Voice
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I'm dissappointed that Jodi would deal with you in such a crappy way. I've worked with her for over 6 years but only been to the Buskers Fest. once (I had a flu and it didn't work for either of us).

I must agree with you about the displacement of all the local performers. I often worked nearby at other times of the year and watched the weekend performers (I too may have displaced locals). One of the best Saturday's afternoon's performances I've seen, on any pitch anywhere, was the assessment day for the Street Theatre element of the new "Performance Arts" course at the Polytech (its first year). Several of those people now have burgeoning shows.

I'v seen it at many festivals and events, having been a director/producer and having to deal with the aspects Lynneski raises, as well as finding myself/my work displaced by other people's events. As a pavement artist you can work for 10 days building towards your hat and then turn up on Saturday to find a tent on your work.

I really can't offer any solution to the problem other than to say "Get out of town".

It was the best advice anybody ever gave me. Once you can "do it", go and do it somewhere else. A visiting performer always (don't ask me why) always gets more respect than the local. Perhaps it's the familiarity breeding contempt thing, maybe, it's the knowledge that the visitor will actually leave (this means the visitor can be wildly creative and eccentric and not only get away with it but be celebrated momentarily).

If you've worked a town as small as CHCH successfully for a couple of years (in view of the fact that it's a small audience that does see some of the best) then you have a good act.

Leave town!!! The world is full of good pitches, if you can make them work for you, Jodi will probably have to pay you to come back.

PS How's the "Wonderbar" doing?
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