The next Ed Sheeran could be waiting to step into the Ballymena limelight as the Co Antrim town provides a focal point for talented buskers to wow shoppers.
The ‘busker spot’ on Greenvale Street will be open to all musicians on a ‘first come first served’ basis following an opening month of scheduled performances.
Mid and East Antrim Council has established the initiative at a time when most local musicians are struggling financially due to the Covid restrictions on live performances.
A council spokesperson also said the performances will “re-animate our town centres following lockdown”.
Mayor William McCaughey said the Greenvale Street site – at the entrance to the Tower Centre – is already popular with buskers and other street performers.
Cllr McCaughey said: “The new busker spot sign, based on a guitar plectrum, is merely to make this spot more official and to show musicians and town centre users that busking is welcomed and encouraged here.
“It’s been great working with BID (business improvement district) and Department for Communities to help create a more official area for our fantastic local musical talent or performers to breathe fresh life into our high street as we emerge from lockdown.
“It’s hoped the initiative will form a community of performers who can support each other and maybe even collaborate together.”
Joe Rocks, the council’s arts officer, said the new initiative is a continuation of the Mid and East Antrim Council’s music project ‘Midtown Sounds’.
“Music videos have been recorded, musicians have performed at the bandstand and within shop premises in the town centre, there has been masterclasses from music Industry experts – and all these little pieces have been designed in order to provide local musicians with the tools to be creative,” he said.
“Busking has been the starting point for a number of the world’s top musical artists and has been the beginning for many of our towns most recognisable musicians.
“We hope that by establishing this spot as a dedicated busker spot, we are indicating to musicians, both in the borough and further afield, that busking is both welcomed and encouraged in our town centre,” Mr Rocks added.
He went on to say: “We would hope that the space becomes so popular that we will have to seek out a number of other busker friendly spots within the town centre and into our town centres within the borough.”
Performers Tiernan Heffron, Rebecca Hall, Dylan McIlwaine and Lorcan Falls will be entertaining the Saturday shoppers in Ballymena during August.
Emma McCrea from Ballymena BID said: “We’re delighted to be supporting this amazing initiative. Music adds additional atmosphere to the town and the overall experience for visitors to Ballymena. We encourage musicians from near and far to make use of this great location and show Ballymena your talent.”
To find out more go to www.midandeastantrim.gov.uk/midtownsounds