A BUSKING fee may be axed in Perth, but auditions to keep off-key warblers out of the city are likely to remain.
Bad buskers have long been a source of complaints in the CBD; in 2018 Perth council received 146 complaints over a six-month period, mostly about songs on repeat, bad singing, loud acts and unrehearsed acts.
A letter writer in the Voice that year captured what others were clearly thinking as well; “At what point will the council begin to do something about the amateur ‘opera’ singer who has ruined the atmosphere of the Perth Cultural Centre with over-loud and obnoxious busking,” he wrote, claiming customers had been “driven away by the tuneless, ear-piercing singing”.
The complaints prompted the council to trial new busking rules later that year, dropping the permit fee from $269 to $60 to encourage a wider talent pool, and creating a booking system for prescribed busking zones.
Acts were given time limits so traders didn’t have to hear the same songs on repeat. The council even planted professional acts to inspire amateurs.
The price drop saw busking applications skyrocket from 28 to 264.
Under the new screening process performers had to submit a video to the council’s arts team, with the grey-suited Simon Cowells rejecting 55 as not up to par.
Busking complaints halved during the bureaucratised busking trial, while a survey of buskers found most were in favour of the new system.
City staff have now recommended the screening system stay in place and advised commissioners to drop the fee to $0 a year in line with Fremantle, Brisbane and Armadale, and they’ll vote on that at the February 25 council meeting.
by DAVID BELL