Practice your dance moves, warm up your vocal chords: The buskers are back

Musical group Charlie and the Rays will be performing in Seattle parks this summer as part of the 2015 busker program.

Downtown Seattle has a different feel in the summer.  The sun is out (like all the time) and the parks are bustling with children, tourists and activity.

This summer you’re likely to cross paths with an indie/folk duo sharing their songs in Westlake Park or a juggler dancing her way through Pioneer Square. We know, because we asked them to be there.

Every spring since 2007, Seattle Parks and Recreation has hired a variety of artists to perform in downtown parks in order to make the atmosphere livelier and more welcoming for families, visitors, and lunchgoers. The artists are paid $50 a day to play two-hour sets in their assigned park.

The program was created by Adrienne Caver-Hall, the current recreation program coordinator for Center City Parks.

Duo JC and the Boxer will be performing this summer in Seattle parks as part of the 2015 busker program.

The buskers will begin performing this month and will continue through the end of summer/early fall weather permitting.

Caver-Hall said she was really excited this year to see the number of female performers at auditions.

“We usually see a majority of men downtown, so this is really surprising,” Caver-Hall said. “There’s a lot of women this year, and I love their energy.”

The buskers will be stationed at Freeway Park, Occidental Park, Cal Anderson Park, Hing Hay Park, Westlake Park and Bell Street Park. They will also make appearances at special events like Family Fun Days, Outdoor Movies, the Belltown Art Walk and more.

“This year’s buskers have really raised the bar,” Caver-Hall said. “I think the public is going to be very impressed with their level of talent.”

For more information on the busker program, please visit the program’s Facebook page.

Seattle Parks receives National Endowment for the Arts grant

$10,000 to support downtown Busker Program

Seattle Parks busker in Westlake Park.


National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu announced today that Seattle Parks and Recreation is one of 917 organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant.

Seattle Parks will receive $10,000 to support the Seattle Busker Program. The busker program began in 2007. Each spring Seattle Parks auditions and pays a variety of artists to perform in downtown parks in order to make the parks livelier and more welcoming throughout the spring and summer months. This grant will be used to enhance this program with support for the City of Seattle Office of Film and Music’s The City of Music™ initiative by increasing duo and trio program participation as well as creating a jazz program in the park series.

NEA Chairman Chu said, “I’m pleased to be able to share the news of our support through Art Works including the award to Seattle Parks and Recreation. The arts foster value, connection, creativity and innovation for the American people and these recommended grants demonstrate those attributes and affirm that the arts are part of our everyday lives.”

Art Works grants support the creation of art, public engagement with art, lifelong learning in the arts, and enhancement of the livability of communities through the arts. The NEA received 1,474 eligible applications under the Art Works category, requesting more than $75 million in funding. Of those applications, 917 are recommended for grants for a total of $26.6 million.

For a complete listing of projects recommended for Art Works grant support, please visit the NEA website at Follow the conversation about this and other NEA‐funded projects on Twitter at #NEAFall2014.


Summer buskers help safeguard downtown parks

Musicians Tristan Kline, left, and Zarni De Wet will be part of the 2014 Busker Program for Seattle Parks and Recreation.


When people think about superhero crime-fighting tools, they envision Superman’s cape, Batman’s gadgets or Spiderman’s web. Here at Seattle Parks and Recreation, we add a few more items to the list: accordions, pianos, tightropes and guitars.

Each spring Seattle Parks auditions and hires a variety of artists to perform in downtown parks in order to make the atmosphere livelier, more welcoming and, most importantly, safer. The artists are paid $50 a day to play two-hour sets in their assigned park and tipping is welcome.

The busker program began in 2007, dreamed up by Adrienne Caver-Hall, the current recreation program coordinator for Center City Parks.

Musician and current park concierge Philip Craft busked during the program’s first year in Hing Hay Park and saw its positive effects firsthand. Craft said when he started, Hing Hay was grim and uninviting, but that changed. He was playing his guitar in the park and women from the community center came over and put apples and oranges in his case, thanking him for being there. Craft said the women had felt trapped in their apartments because the park was frequently occupied by drug dealers and homeless people, but his presence seemed to invite a different crowd.

“Adrienne Caver-Hall deserves a major shoutout for creating and developing what has become a proactive, talent-filled, community-based, safety-building activation of the downtown parks,” Craft said.

In addition to making downtown parks more family friendly, the busker program also promotes individuals’ art. Busking provides instant feedback and a venue to try new things.

“For us to be able to celebrate their artistry and to help them make ends meet is really great,” Caver-Hall said.

This year, Seattle Parks has a roster of 27 buskers who will perform at Hing Hay Park, Westlake Park, Occidental Square, Freeway Park and other downtown parks. Nineteen buskers are returning from previous years, and eight were selected through open auditions at Belltown Community Center.

The buskers will start performing in mid-May, weather permitting. Beginning this year, park concierges will also conduct mid-afternoon counts to see if the number of park visitors is increasing.

“The performers remind people of our common humanity and create a soothing vibe in the park,” said James Whetzel, a former Seattle Parks busker who helped audition this year’s new performers. “It’s nice to have our parks back.”

For more information about the busker program, please click HERE.