This summer, The Better Good will be commissioning ten performers who have been financially impacted by the pandemic to busk for an hour each on Broadway Avenue.
“We’re trying to pay people that are established artists that normally are making their income through the performing arts and that they’re not able to do that,” said store co-owner Corey Neufeld.
The Better Good is a sustainable shopping and retail store that promotes organic and fair trade products. The store puts away money for community-based projects every year and decided performances on the street would be an exciting and safe option for summer 2021, as well as benefit many, says Neufeld. The event programming is open to all types of performances and art forms.
Although the performers will be doing the act of busking, Nuefeld said that they are also looking for more established artists.
“The idea is to bring some really high-level performance to the streets… This is the kind of level of performance that you would see opening for a world class act on the main stage at the Jazz Festival,” said Neufeld.
Malika Sellami, a local bilingual musician and one of the individuals who inspired the project, says that this is just what artists and community members need right now.
“We’re missing that contact with the public, the audience, the symbiosis that we can create, that fuels us [with] the whole concept of performing arts,” said Sellami.
Neufeld hopes the project will continue to build over the next few months into a large community initiative with local businesses. Bill’s House of Flowers and Calories will be providing flowers and meals for the artists involved.
“What I’m hoping is that this spirals into a bigger community effort [while] appreciating the arts, caring for each other and making the street exciting and joyful,” said Neufeld.
Sellami is excited to come across the buskers on the street and is looking forward to safe human interactions. As an artist, she understands how important audience liveliness is.
“As performers, we’re used to performing with the people… There is still this connection — you’re playing for an audience that you can feel,” Sellami said. “You can feel their energy and that fuels us in a way.”
Sellami says that it will be exciting for people walking by to see a performance for a moment. Rather than buying tickets to a show and knowing what to anticipate, people will be able to experience something new and unexpected.
Looking to the future, Neufeld thinks this may encourage other buskers to play on Broadway Avenue more.
“If the community really values art and they give generously when people come out to perform, there’s going to be more performers out there,” Neufeld said.
With the ten performances over the summer, Broadway Avenue will be able to offer a safe activity for the community. Sellami says the streets will literally liven up with safe interactions.
“As social beings, humans need to have that interaction,” Sellami said.