Buskers invited into Bath Abbey to perform

Bath Abbey’s relationship with buskers – performing outside in Abbey Churchyard – has sometimes been put to the test over recent years.

A busker in Abbey Courtyard.

Highly amplified music had been blamed in the past for disrupting services and causing unwelcome distraction during concerts.

Bath and North East Somerset Council now has local authority powers to ban loudspeakers being used for performances near the city’s very grand parish church – if it’s deemed too loud.

Agreement has been recently reached for the buskers to ‘self-police’ themselves and now comes a further thaw in relations with their Tudor Perpendicular neighbour with news that some of them will now get to perform to an audience INSIDE the Abbey!Streets of Bath DL Leaflet (dragged)

It’s all part of a special ‘Streets of Bath’ exhibition within the Abbey from April 12th to the 16th.

This will feature artwork from over 30 local amateur and professional artists – which will set out to celebrate the people who work and live on our streets – either by choice or force of circumstances. This will include paintings, drawings, collage, installations, poetry and audio works.

The idea is to provoke thought and conversation about how these people are an integral part of the city and the Abbey will be inviting buskers in to give lunchtime recitals too!

This will happen each day at 12.30 pm and at 1.15 pm there will also be a short talk or demonstration by one of the artists.

Highlights among the exhibits include:

• An audio montage of interviews with people who work on the streets, including a Police Community Support Officer, a Business Improvement District ranger and a Street Pastor.

• A group of children from a creative arts project who are producing a 3D work which looks at the streets of Bath from their perspective.

• Two installations created by the Abbey Missioner that intend to create a visual dialogue between ancient religious memorials and contemporary practice on our streets.

• Artwork from three projects working with people who live on the streets and in recovery.

• A poem, collaboratively created by a writing group, about the streets of Bath.

• In the sanctuary, a very large reproduction called ‘Here We All Are’ by David Cobley, founder of Bath Artists’ Studios and a prominent portrait painter whose works feature in the National Portrait Gallery.

revd stephen girling abbey missioner
Revd Stephen Girling, Bath Abbey Missioner

The Revd Stephen Girling, Bath Abbey Missioner, said “We put out a call to artists and others across the city, for art to help us celebrate and consider those who work and live on our streets.  We’ve selected over 50 works by over 30 artists.

Reflections in the Rain
Reflections in the Rain by Isabel Rossiter. One of the art works on display.

“I am delighted that so many people, amateur and professional, have come forward to offer up their creativity.  I hope that the works will help those who live and work on our streets feel as much valued as everybody else and that visitors will engage in important conversations as we tease out what hospitality looks like in this modern, busy, complex city”.

Members of the press are invited to join us at the Preview Evening on Monday 11th April 2016 at 6.30pm and are asked to r.s.v.p. to kleary@bathabbey.org

Back in April 2013 – https://virtualmuseumofbath.com/2013/04/29/buskers-inside-bath-abbey/ – the Virtual Museum suggested that buskers should be allowed into the church to perform.

The suggestion was for an annual Busker Blessing service which recognised their contribution to street life and allowed some of them to perform. It could have been coupled with acknowledging and praying for the more unfortunate homeless who share those streets.

A collection could have been made for those who help them with food and shelter.

I still think that a good idea. Maybe this will be a first step in the right direction.

You will find more information about the Abbey and exhibition via www.bathabbey.org