How to be a Busker in Singapore? (Quick Guide)
Do you want to sing, dance, juggle, draw, paint, or mime? Just do it, rock the street! Oh wait, you first need a license from the National Arts Council. If you find it tedious already, then too bad, no busking for you.
If not, are you ready?
Busking Card = Letter of Endorsement
55 dBA = Loudness of a coffeemaker
Act funny = Pose significant disruptions to others (you can be funny… I think)
Key Busking Tips
1. Be prepared to submit your application as soon as the window opens.
2. You can rank 8 locations from the designated list (not final).
3. You must indicate your busking activity/activities.
4. You can have up to 10 busking members (all must turn up for audition).
5. You can only perform within designated hours (mostly 10am to 10pm).
6. You cannot mix with other groups when performing.
7. You cannot use sound amplification devices (unless battery-powered).
8. You cannot exceed 55 dBA (I think some do; just avoid complaints).
9. You cannot sell merchandise.
10. You cannot actively solicit donations (but a guitar case with notes/coins…).
I am not a busker, so I cannot tell you how much leeway buskers are allowed once on the streets. For instance, 55 dBA does not sound like a lot. Other countries with limits mostly set it higher at about 70-80 dB; I’m not sure how much difference the ‘A’ makes. Maybe physics students can enlighten us here? And maybe buskers can tell us if this is an emphasized rule?
More Questions for Buskers
1. How long does a busking license remain valid until it expires?
2. For existing buskers, is renewal an easier process?
3. Who judges the auditions? Are they familiar with your form of art?
4. Do you mix with other groups? (if you do, stay discreet haha)
5. Do you engage in meaningful chatter with the public?
I think buskers are in both a privileged and a marginalized position. Privileged, because they have the formal right to stop on the streets and do what they like and be seen and heard for it. Marginalized, because pedestrians can be harsh critics. Moreover, as I elaborated in a previous post, it appears that the larger impact that buskers can have on our society is hugely muted.
How to be a busker, then? If you have thoughts and experiences to share, please do!
And please refer to the National Arts Council website for the latest registration dates and a more detailed guide!