Finaldi - "ban the buskers"

February 18 2016

Image of Finaldi - "ban the buskers"

Picture: Independent

The new National Gallery director, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, has declared war against the buskers and 'street artists' who cluster around the front of the National Gallery. Reports The Independent:

Gabriele Finaldi and chair Hannah Rothschild hope to clear street performers from the square’s North Terrace, directly in front of its building, to create a destination more suited to welcoming art lovers.

Management from the gallery, about to open a new exhibition on Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art, plans to write to Westminster City Council, which controls the terrace that was pedestrianised in 2003, about how to improve the area.

Dr Finaldi said: “It would be nice for Trafalgar Square to become an attractive part of London,” before adding: “We can talk to Westminster about doing things together. It would be lovely to make it a space that works for us.”

Ms Rothschild agreed: “We should start the campaign to make it beautiful. It could be a place with trees, for shade and respite and calm.”

I hope Finaldi wins his battle. I like a good busker as much as the next person. Up here in Edinburgh, naturally, we have a regular array of excellent pipers, including outside the Scottish National Gallery. They add to the culture of the city. But the area in front of the National Gallery in London has become an endless parade of din and dinginess.

The rot started as soon as the area was pedestrianised in 2003, and now the National Gallery visitor must negotiate (generally bad) buskers, at least three or four 'floating Yodas' at any one time, and various other street performers with PA systems so loud you can hear them inside the Gallery. My least favourite 'act' is the person who sits with a large semi-finished chalk drawing (after Raphael if I recall correctly), and a pot of chalks, giving the illusion she's hard at work on a masterpiece. But actually it's the same drawing rolled out day after day. They don't tolerate this sort of scene outside the Louvre, and nor should the National Gallery.

Update - a reader writes:


Good on him [Finaldi]. I had always thought the buskers were a nuisance but had not really minded them. Until recently, when, I suddenly found my viewing of pictures at the National Gallery disturbed by the noises of performers from outside the building. It is one thing for our country’s art (which we try so hard to promote) to be diminished by having base buskers allowed to preform outside the front of the gallery but it really does take the biscuit when they are allowed to infringe on peoples experience of art inside the gallery.


Another wonders:


Could a substantial improvement not be made simply by banning electrical production of sound on Trafalgar Square, subject only to specific licenses for specific events?  Only acoustic sound and voices.  Just a start, but still…


Update II - another reader writes:


Totally agree re Yodas and Grim Reapers at the NG.

The answer is a set of pavement water jets a la Somerset House, which visitors will be able to turn on for a pound a go from the NG Lobby.


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