‘The Busking Project’ stops by Stockholm

Aiming to become the first to explore busking on a global scale, one American and two Englishmen set off to travel around the world to document street performers. Contributor Lina Sennevall meets them in Stockholm.

'The Busking Project' stops by Stockholm

In just under a year the team of three called The Busking Project will be travelling to 40 cities in 30 countries staying for only five days in each place.

Documenting street performers ranging from musicians to jugglers, the team is trying to figure out why people busk and the conflicts that buskers go through.

“A lot of busker’s lives are similar. They’re all subject to the weather, to what the audience like and how much the currency is worth,” says Nick Broad, director of The Busking Project.

Five months into their journey the team has filmed over a hundred performers and stopped off in Sweden for a couple of days to check out the street performer scene in Stockholm.

“There is a lightheartedness to the street scene in Stockholm and there seems to be a lot of potential as well. Audiences in Stockholm seem appreciative and supportive,” says Belle Crawford, artistic director of the team.

The result of the travels will be a documentary, a book and maybe a TV series about the busker scene.

The team explains that so far they’ve discovered that being a busker isn’t always an easy life. Street performers are often victims of negative stereotypes and busking is seen as begging in a lot of countries.

“Some people are begging with an instrument to make them look better but there is a lot of amazing art out there that people are bringing to the streets as a free medium just for people to enjoy it,” says Chris Smith, project manager.

“I guess that’s what we’re exploring. We’re looking at all these different levels of busking, the motivation and the conflicts that they go through.”

The idea for the project came to Nick Broad over dinner with a fiend.

“I was living in New York when I was cut from my job and I was thinking about what to do. I design websites, I’m a writer and I like filming buskers and this was a way of combining all three,” says Broad.

The project is financed mostly by online fundraising but also by personal money.

“I had to sell my car and move back to my dad at the age of 30 to fund the trip,” says Belle Crawford.

On their journey the team will be flying as little as possible and will travel by boat and train instead to save money and to be eco-conscious.

They will also not be staying at hotels but instead they will be sleeping on people’s sofas in the countries they visit, engaging in what has become known as couch-surfing.

“It’s amazing. It’s made it a lot easier cause these people are often locals and they know the cities and the people and they’ve been a fantastic resource helping us.”

Travelling the world in the easiest way possible, sleeping on sofas and spending most of their time working outdoors the team feel they can now relate to the jugglers and musicians they’ve met.

“I guess you could say that on this journey we’re actually living our lives like the buskers we’re documenting,” says Crawford.


Stockholm Pride is a little different this year: here’s what you need to know 

This week marks the beginning of Pride festivities in the Swedish capital. The tickets sold out immediately, for the partly in-person, partly digital events. 

Pride parade 2019
There won't be a Pride parade like the one in 2019 on the streets of Stockholm this year. Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

You might have noticed rainbow flags popping up on major buildings in Stockholm, and on buses and trams. Sweden has more Pride festivals per capita than any other country and is the largest Pride celebration in the Nordic region, but the Stockholm event is by far the biggest.  

The Pride Parade, which usually attracts around 50,000 participants in a normal year, will be broadcast digitally from Södra Teatern on August 7th on Stockholm Pride’s website and social media. The two-hour broadcast will be led by tenor and debater Rickard Söderberg.

The two major venues of the festival are Pride House, located this year at the Clarion Hotel Stockholm at Skanstull in Södermalm, and Pride Stage, which is at Södra Teatern near Slussen.

“We are super happy with the layout and think it feels good for us as an organisation to slowly return to normal. There are so many who have longed for it,” chairperson of Stockholm Pride, Vix Herjeryd, told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

Tickets are required for all indoor events at Södra Teatern to limit the number of people indoors according to pandemic restrictions. But the entire stage programme will also be streamed on a big screen open air on Mosebacketerassen, which doesn’t require a ticket.  

You can read more about this year’s Pride programme on the Stockholm Pride website (in Swedish).