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Festival offers respite from economic doom and glo

Festival offers respite from economic doom and gloom

Looking for some cheap laughs to help combat the economic gloom gripping the globe? There will be plenty of those up for grabs when the World Buskers’ Festival begins in Christchurch next week.

The 11-day gloom-busting festival showcases some of the best comedic and physical theatre talent in the world and is guaranteed to put smiles on people’s faces, even when the chips are down.

“Every time you pick up a newspaper or turn on a TV there seems to be more bad news about the economy so I think we could all do with a bit of fun and some belly-aching laughs,’’ says World Buskers’ Festival director Jodi Wright.

Wright has assembled 47 acts for this year’s festival and together they will perform more than 450 street and stage show. Entry to most shows is free although people are asked to donate their spare change to the performers, some of whom have come from as far afield as Japan, the United States, England and Argentina to perform.

Among those making the journey to Christchurch for the festival is American funny man Rob Williams whose ability to make sandwiches with his feet has earned him a guest spot on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and a Guinness World Record.

“What that man can do with his feet, a knife and a jar of mayonnaise is amazing,’’ says Jodi Wright.

In addition to bringing a dose of humour to Christchurch, the World Buskers’ Festival also brings people and money. An economic impact study conducted in 2007 showed it brought more than $3.1 million in direct spending to the Christchurch economy, with visitors from overseas contributing more than half of that amount.

The study estimated the number of people who attended the event during the 10 days it ran at more than 250,000.

“It is always hard to accurately gauge crowd numbers at free outdoor events like this but there’s no doubting the fact the World Buskers’ Festival draws huge numbers of people to the city. A lot of those people will come in for a show but end up staying in town because they want shop or try out some of the bars and restaurants,’’ says Jodi Wright.

The World Buskers’ Festival starts on January 22 and runs until February 1. Details of who is performing, when, and where, can be found online at www.worldbuskersfestival.com.

ENDS

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