Published On February 8, 2014 | By Elisabeth Petras | Music

buskpgh 2This March you can expect a little more entertainment in your commute. Thanks to the Pittsburgh Downtown Community Development Corporation‘s (PDCDC) exciting new program BuskPGH, you might actually tolerate traveling to and from work. That’s because BuskPGH brings the entertainment of busking to the Downtown Pittsburgh T-stations. Buskers from all types of genres will have the opportunity to show off their talents for your enjoyment.

For those of you that don’t know, busking is not some random dude on the street asking you for money. It’s a legitimate art form that dates back to the time of traveling circuses. Legends like Louis Armstrong and the Violent Femmes have all been a part of busking. These days, busking encompasses street performers showcasing their talents in public spaces in exchange for tips.

We recently asked PDCDC’s Hadley Pratt to tell us more about the program and give us a better idea about what makes BuskPGH so special.

“[BuskPGH] is a partnership between the PDCDC and the Port Authority…We’re also working closely with Sean Miller, a veteran street performer who has run a regional busking program called Busk-Pittsburgh for many years…Together, the downtown and regional programs operate under the name “Busk Pittsburgh.” Busk Pittsburgh, as a sort of umbrella program, will serve as a resource for performers and its registry will allow people to search for and book performers for local events.”

Street performers that have registered with BuskPGH will select a time slot and be placed at one of the four Downtown T stations. Thanks to the recent expansion to the North Shore, the T has become fairly popular, with loads of people using it every day. Even if a majority of people only use the T for sports games, it still makes for a pretty stellar spot to perform.

“Our primary reason for scheduling the performances inside the T station is the traffic that passes through them. Commuters from all over the city pass through the T stations to get to work, giving performers great exposure in a unique space… We hope that utilizing private space will help people see that the performers are there for a reason and that busking is a legitimate form of public art.”

Because official signage makes everything legit, signs will also be posted outside the stations to prepare passersby for the entertainment. This is not panhandling, but an opportunity for highly talented performers to connect with the Pittsburgh community.

We’re totally stoked to check out what type of entertainment we’re in for once this program begins.  According to Pratt,  “There will be all sorts of music and genres. We have a large performer registry that I haven’t even begun to sort through, so I can’t tell you off the top of my head, but I have seen a lot of different instruments, styles and genres represented by the people I’ve talked to. And it will not just be musicians! We’re excited to work with all sorts of performers, from balloon artists to magicians. The performances just have to be appropriate for the indoor T stations, so unfortunately no fire eaters. They’re welcome to register to receive info about busking opportunities throughout the city, but we can’t schedule them in the stations.”

When it comes to how often buskers will perform Pratt tells us “We plan to start off pretty consistently, but as time goes on and the program grows, we hope to schedule a wide range of performers each week. The performance windows themselves are fairly short, 1-2 hours, so that provides a lot of different performance opportunities.” With so much talent in the area, BuskBPGH has a lot opportunity to expand its network.

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