Art Afloat OKC pushes to bring back Bricktown busking

Bailee Brown

Contributing Writer

Chase Kerby is changing the scene in Oklahoma City. (PROVIDED)

Bricktown, known for its clubs, bars and restaurants and ACM@UCO, can always use more music, both in the clubs and in the streets. Chase Kerby and Chad Huntington, the creators of the Showboat Concert Series, hope to bring about a musical renaissance in the district. 

To breathe life into the music scene in Bricktown, Kerby and Huntington have teamed to create Art Afloat OKC, a project that, in their words, “represents a concerted effort to bring new and inspiring artistic interventions to the Bricktown Canal.”

“Music has a tendency to uplift any atmosphere it’s happening in. We’re hoping it’s just one of those things that brings comradery,” said Kerby, a guitarist and vocalist for Beau Jennings and the Tigers and Big Weather.

The team plans to expand the live music experience in Bricktown by focusing their efforts on increasing the number of street performers. “Busking” is the term for playing music in the street for voluntary tips. In 2019, busking was deregulated, which allowed performers to share their craft in public spaces without needing to obtain multiple permits and pay fees. Art Afloat OKC seeks to take this initiative a step further, by organizing and curating performances.

The initiative starts with a focus on one location in Bricktown. The first stage, so to speak, is located on a pedestrian bridge crossing the canal. The bridge provides space for performers to play and still not obstruct walking traffic. Bricktown visitors get to experience the joy of live music and musicians get to share their music with the public.

As payment for their performances, artists receive $100 for one hour of performing, with the option to continue playing for tips afterward. 

Kerby is developing an online application and creating a schedule to ensure a diverse set of talent and voices will be heard. In the beginning, there will be one performance and one location per week, but the goal is to expand beyond Bricktown and into other popular districts. 

“We just want to entice people to enjoy the city, come visit the city and stay in the city,” Kerby said.

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