Patron of the arts

It’s about a year since, after being refused a Foxtel connection, I decided to patronisePBS-FM for a year by subscribing. Now it’s up for renewal, and I’m considering how I want to spend my minority arts budget this year.

A lot has changed in the past year, and these days I find that at home I’m generally listening to CDs, and in the car, which tragically lacks a CD player, I’m generally listening to the
talk stations
, trying to pick up on how the media is working, the art of sound bites, as well as the latest news. And while a PBS subscription gives a warm fuzzy feeling and a handful of discounts at various prestigious institutions, my current thinking is that my $65 will go elsewhere.

These thoughts and more occurred to me last night on the train home, when a busker boarded at Richmond. He asked the carriage if we’d mind if he sang some songs. When nobody replied, he proceeded to play his guitar, and it was with some shock that I came to realise he actually had some talent. Not to the degree of "Hey, why isn’t this guy in a recording studio somewhere", but his guitar was tuned, he could strum a tune, and what’s more… he could sing. Okay, so either the songs were all very obscure, or his own compositions (or both) because I didn’t recognise any of them, but he didn’t stumble over the words at all.

I had boarded the train expecting to stand in the doorway for 15 minutes reading the freebie paper and looking out the window. To my surprise I got live music of a half-decent standard, and he got $2 of my arts patronage budget, as well as similar contributions from many of my fellow commuters. After all, you’ve gotta love a bit of unexpected live music, and a busker who can play is something to be nurtured and encouraged.

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