Street performers championed by new scheme ahead of International Busking Day

Busking in London is being championed like never before.

Busk in London is a new scheme which has been introduced by Mayor Sadiq Khan to provide 6,000 hours of busking a year.

It supports one of the capital’s great traditions – giving performers designated areas to play and protecting those in existence.

Singer-songwriter Karina Ramage said: “This is private land and it is government funded so that is why all the places are free.”

She moved from France a few years ago to pursue a career in music and Sadiq Khan’s ethos, ‘London is Open’, strikes a chord with her.

Karina said: “I think the music definitely helps you forget about the world for a minute, it can take your mind elsewhere.

“I played after the second terrorist attack and I came here and the vibe was surprisingly positive.

“I was playing ‘Wonderful World’ and there was a guy who stopped and bought a CD and he said I really wish it was a wonderful world.”

Busk in London works alongside TfL to bring 100,000 hours of phonic bliss to commuters at 25 tube stations.

However, Karima said: “I would do it only if I couldn’t make it outside because you are breathing recycled air which is almost as bad as you smoking.”

The Southbank Centre provides lockers for musicians and creates slots for them to take up stunning positions along the Thames.

The amount she makes on a good day can be as much as £50 an hour but four hours is her maximum because of the physicality of live singing.

There are also hazards to performing in the open air: “I have had people grab a bunch of coins and run away. I have also had a £10 note fly into the Thames.”

Karina has pulled in crowds of over 100 people and finds American tourists the most enthusiastic.

George, from Toronto, was listening with his wife Christina.

“I have travelled all over the world,” he said.

“The atmosphere of London and the people are always what bring me back.”

Christina said: “When you think of the terrible attacks which have happened recently I think music is the best way to say, guess what, this is what we do – we love.”

International Busking Day will take place at Trafalgar Square on July 22 and last year attracted over 25,000 spectators.

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