Don't discourage those who choose to busk

In a society which puts emphasis on convention and academic achievements, busking is a pretty unconventional profession indeed.

Street busking in Singapore, where a tip culture is not well established, is also an unstable source of income.

So I do not blame Miss Susan Tan for her stand - essentially, that busking should never evolve to become a form of begging or a person's sole source of income (Do not allow busking as a day job; April 17).

Still, there might be some facts about busking in Singapore which she might not be aware of.

It is a well-regulated activity in Singapore.A person needs to pass an audition that is judged by industry experts, and get a licence before he can busk.

Auditions are held four times a year and are limited to 80 participants for each round.

In addition, each licence lasts for only one or two years, after which the busker would have to re-audition for licence renewal.

Contrary to popular belief, buskers are not beggars. We actually put in effort to audition for a licence, to be given a unique chance to entertain people on the streets.

Musicians have to get special battery-operated amplifiers, among other equipment, while buskers doing circus acts have to fork out money for their extensive props.

Then, there are the many hours of blood, sweat and tears they put into perfecting their craft.

If people are willing to fork out good money to listen to a live band at a bar, or watch a circus show, why discourage those who do it on the streets without any financial obligation or cost to the public?

I respect freedom of expression. I think it is unfair to deny buskers the option to busk for a living.

Teo Yong Kang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2018, with the headline 'Don't discourage those who choose to busk'. Print Edition | Subscribe