Buskers prove hit inside Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey’s current ‘Streets of Bath’ exhibition – and buskers’ musical performances -has proved so popular – the event is likely to be extended into next week as well.IMG_7683

The aim of the exhibition – set up within the Abbey – is to help visitors gain an insight into how our streets live and work and to give thought and consideration to those we often take for granted.

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Guitarist Gary Millhouse performing in Bath Abbey. © Holly Doughty/Bath Abbey

  Every day during the event will see a busker’s recital at 12.30pm. Included are guitarists, singers and a soprano, reflecting the diversity of music usually available right next door in Abbey Churchyard and Kingston Parade.IMG_7693

Their performances complement the artworks being exhibited in the Abbey this week; these include sculpture, the spoken word and poetry, all alongside more traditional paintings and photography. 

13 Revd Stephen Girling
The Revd Stephen Girling.

Revd Stephen Girling, Missioner of Bath Abbey, said: “The busker’s music played at the heart of the Abbey sounded magnificent in this unique acoustic.  We truly value our partnership with others in this city, including visual and performing artists, I hope we can continue to build upon these latest steps.”

An installation which links ‘journeys’ with Christian hopes for our final destiny.

It’s a sign of the new relationship that has developed between the Abbey and local buskers since problems developed over amplified music and vocals disrupting services within the Abbey.

This has included working with partners, including Bath and North East Somerset Council, Bath Business Improvement District, Keep Streets Live and the Musicians Union, to produce a “Buskers’ Guide to Bath”. IMG_7691

The guidelines aim to balance the rights of street musicians to earn their living with the rights of members of and visitors to the Abbey as a place of worship and quiet rest, so that all can enjoy the city and their time within it.

The Abbey has printed over 500 copies of the new guide for circulation to its neighbouring businesses, as well as having copies on hand for Abbey volunteers and members of the busking community.IMG_7687

Along with the new traffic light system in place that lets performers know when services and rehearsals are taking place in the Abbey, it’s lead to a new spirit of co-operation, which the Abbey is keen to develop, through initiatives such as the performances this week.IMG_7681

An electronic copy of the Busking Guide to Bath, published jointly by Bath and North East Somerset Council, Bath Business Improvement District, Keep Streets Live, the Musicians Union and Bath Abbey, can be found at www.bathnes.gov.uk/sites/default/files/busker_guide.pdf

About Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey is a flourishing Church of England parish church which technically serves a small city centre parish (Bath Abbey with St James). This parish has a small residential population and primarily consists of commercial properties; and most of the regular congregation and the 692 people on the electoral roll live in other parishes or come from outside the city of Bath.

The Abbey holds daily services of morning or evening prayer or Holy Communion; and the standard pattern of Sunday worship is for five daily services attended on average by 630 people. Special services at Advent, Christmas and Easter are well attended; and many local organisations hold annual services in the Abbey. The Abbey has four choirs:  Men’s, Boys’ and Girls’ choirs support worship in services; whilst Melody Makers is a choir for younger children which performs in concerts in the Abbey once a term and at other events in and around Bath.

The Abbey runs a successful Schools Singing Programme, an outreach activity which supports singing within local schools and holds regular workshops and concerts in the Abbey. The Abbey welcomes approximately 400,000 visitors annually and is open daily all year round; many of these visitors being families and school parties.

Apart from being a place of prayer, worship, weddings and funerals, the Abbey has an important role as a visitor destination, a performance space (for audiences anywhere between 10 and 1,000), a general civic space and an exhibition space.