The likes of Bono and Glen Hansard serenading the masses on Dublin’s Grafton Street as part of their annual Christmas Eve charity fundraising drive will not take place this year after Dublin City Council extended its temporary ban on busking due to Covid restrictions.
The impromptu sessions – which have become a Yuletide favourite for Dubs and visitors alike – will sadly be another casualty of the Covid crisis this year after Dublin city councillor Donna Cooney (Green Party), confirmed that what was hoped to be a temporary ban on street performances will now not be lifted over the festive season.
Ms Cooney raised the issue at tonight’s monthly council meeting after receiving a letter from council to street performers advising them that due to the ongoing pandemic, the ban cannot be lifted for the time being.
The letter, dated November 27, read: “Unfortunately due to public health reasons Dublin City Council cannot lift the temporary suspension of your street performers permit until further notice...stay safe and stay well and we hope to welcome you back to the streets of Dublin in the not too distant future.”
Ms Cooney, who is a visual artist, said her heart goes out to musicians and other performers whose ability to eke out a living – or even be discovered – while performing on Dublin’s famous pedestrian corridor have been lost due to Covid-19 restrictions.
“I know how devastating it is,” she said of the loss of income and profile that busking brings.
She said musicians had held out hope that the temporary ban would be lifted over Christmas.
But now that that is not possible, she said there must be some alternative that would allow them to generate income and still have an ‘audience’ even if the audience is a remote one.
“I thought surely something could be done,” she told Independent.ie.
An emergency motion she tabled at tonight’s meeting was passed unanimously by council.
It called on the council to try to come up with “creative ways” that would allow street performers to perform safely and generate income.
She is hoping that successful musicians who started their careers busking, like Glen Hansard before he went on to found The Frames or even Bono who busked at the old Dandelion market before he went onto worldwide fame as U2’s frontman, might give them a dig out.
Or perhaps buskers could perform virtually via video or even have their music piped onto the street, she suggested.
“There’s already a YouTube channel of Dublin buskers so maybe that could be monetized somehow,” she said.
In the meantime, she will be liaising with the council’s arts officer to see if there are viable solutions.
“It’s really to still give them an audience and to get their music out there so that they can be paid in a safe way,” she said.