Music to the ears: Busking program to bring tunes to downtown Dover

DOVER — Even though it might sound like something dirty, members of the Downtown Dover Partnership (DDP) are encouraging “busking” to take place in downtown Dover beginning on Friday morning.

Busking is actually “the activity of playing music in the street or another public place for voluntary donations,” as defined by Wikipedia..

Dover City Councilman Tim Slavin is the initiator of the program, along with members of the DDP. They will launch the busking program at 11:30 a.m. on Friday in front of the Dover Art League at 21 West Loockerman Street.

The featured musicians of the inaugural busking will be Mike Miller and Rick Hudson, both from Dover’s Friends of Folk.

“Busking is a way to bring more arts into the city,” Mr. Slavin said, “and while this activity typically focuses on musicians, we are encouraging street performances by poets and plein air (outdoor) artists, as well.”

Mr. Slavin added that busking not only creates a welcoming, lighthearted outdoor setting for visitors, shoppers and anyone walking and driving through downtown, but it also provides a venue for artists to showcase their talents and, in turn, receive gratuities from appreciative patrons.

Tim Slavin

Musicians and performers will typically be “unamplified.”

The busking program will be piloted between the library and South Bradford Street and will feature musicians from Dover’s Friends of Folk, with Dover High School and the Inner City Cultural League soon to follow.

Diane Laird, executive director for the Downtown Dover Partnership, said that busking will gently roll out on downtown Dover on Wednesday’s through Friday’s from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. for the lunch crowd.

She anticipates that hours and locations of the busking program will soon be expanded to include late afternoons, weekends and during downtown events.

Pre-selected spaces for buskers to perform have been approved for use by the business or property owners and will be identified by a unique graphic. Those spaces are sizeable enough to allow for pedestrian flow and many of them feature overhangs or canopies for poor weather conditions.

Ms. Laird said that busking fits right in with the cultural element that has been on display at First Friday events in downtown Dover for a couple of years now.

“Recent First Friday events have offered a taste of the playfulness of the downtown setting that can be created when we use the arts as a ‘placemaking’ tool,” she said. “Plein air artist Dennis Young provided an outdoor pastel demonstration to engage passers-by, and music flowed on the streets from saxophonist Welsey Melvin at House of Coffi and instrumental jazz and blues from open doors at the Dover Art League.”
For more information about the busking program, contact

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