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| Culture |

Buskerfest Brings Street Music to Downtown Miami

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Downtown Miami residents are about to have a night of culture, art and music at the Buskerfest Street Music Festival. The first annual Buskerfest aims to bring some zest to Miami's nightlife tonight between 5 to 9 p.m.

"Buskerfest is a street music festival where we're converting all the inner-loop Metromover stops into performance platforms," said Justin Trieger, one of the co-founders of Buskerfest. "...We'll have local musicians and performance artists...roughly 28 different acts over four hours."

Buskerfest was conceived this May, when a group was considering how to invigorate downtown Miami's night scene. "The idea started in a brainstorming session in a civic engagement group called WhereBy.Us,' said Trieger. "The goal of that conversation was how [to] activate downtown [Miami] after dark. It has a reputation for shutting down after 5 p.m., especially on weekend nights."

There were several ideas bandied about, but Buskerfest was "the most popular idea of the night." After that, Trieger, along with four other core organizers, got together and fleshed out the idea, applied for grants to help fund the project and talked with the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County to get approval to use Metromovers for the festival.

The yearning for more cultural avenues in the city means a lot to Buskerfest's co-founders, themselves being artists in their own rights. Amy Cozette San Pedro is a dancer and a founding member of Whole Project, a contemporary dance company directed by Brigid Baker. Collin Worth is transportation planner for the City of Miami and works with Emerge Miami to coordinate events for the community. Chris Sopher is the creator and organizer of WhereBy.Us and works as the media innovation project manager for the Knight Foundation. Gary Ressler is a principal of the Tila Family of Companies and is also the president of the board of the Downtown Miami Partnership. Trieger himself is a composer, recording engineer and multi-instrumentalist who works as the Technical Director for Distance Education and New Media Initiatives at the New World Symphony.

If you're planning on attending Buskerfest, there'll be a wide variety of musical acts and artists to entertain. Trieger said that some of the planned acts include improv theater company the Front Yard Theater Collective, The Biscayne Poet (who will create custom poems from the festival-goer imput), Afrobeta, and an end-of-the-night performance by Spam All-Stars. The mix of new-and-upcoming talent as well as well-established artists will ensure that there's something for everyone.

The festival itself will also be a game. "All of the attendees will have passports. For each stop they visit per particular hour block, volunteers will fill in spots on their passports and that becomes a raffle entry at the end of the night," said Trieger. "If they have a certain number of check-ins at the stations, then they'll be eligible for some prizes we've collected for a raffle."

Buskerfest, a free event, is something Trieger hopes will give downtown Miami residents one more thing to love about Miami's buzzing arts culture. "[W]e encourage people who live and work downtown to come out and experience local art and culture," he said. "At least for [tonight], it will convert downtown into an extremely walkable area...full of cultural vibrancy."

The festival will be split up into four one-hour blocks. To know which artist is playing at which stop at what time, visit buskerfestmiami.com.

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