BOSTON- Walk through downtown Boston and you will be bombarded by images of street performers break dancing in the middle of huge crowds, banging away at homemade drums, or performing their adventurous acts.
Some perform for the love of their art or for the crowds' adoration, but many perform to survive. These street performers, like many in the nation, have been affected by the wavering economic times.
Colin Campbell, a 23 year-old juggler, acrobat, and all-around entertainer from Marshfield, Mass., has been performing in Faneuil Hall since May. Performing is not only a way to express his creativity but is also his full-time job.
Relatively new to the Faneuil Hall street performers crew, Campbell said that the economy has not had a major effect on his pocket since firmly establishing his show. "My show just recently started to get pretty solid, but I was struggling for a long time, you know, barely making like $50 a day," he said.
Despite the initial struggle, Campbell said he saw a turn around in profits. "I mean people, if they are entertained, they're willing to tip you," he said, "If they feel like you did a job well done, they'll come up and donate something at the end." His shows, which are sanctioned by the Faneuil Hall street performers committee, draw large crowds of tourists and locals.
A veteran break-dancer, who refers to himself as Ock, has been in the business of street performing for years. The 24 year-old New York native began by performing in Faneuil Hall and recently made the switch to the pier in front of the New England Aquarium to avoid other break-dancing crews.
Ock said that although he lives off the money he makes performing, it's not the main reason to keep performing. His partner, an 18 year-old who goes by the name Snap Boogie, said he doesn't do it for a living now, but sees himself performing in the future as a full-time job. Both said that since moving their location to the pier, they've struggled to earn the money they once did.
Fellow Faneuil Hall performer, Joshua Rodriguez, said that unlike Campbell, he has seen a decline in tips due to the economy.
Rodriguez, a 20 year-old bucket and tin cookware drummer from Boston, has been performing as Faneuil Hall since he was in the eighth grade. He said that when he first started, he earned $500 a day, but that he's seen a dramatic decrease with the recession. "When the Dow was up, money was everywhere. People were just dropping it and forgetting about it," he said.
Rodriguez said that after the economic boom of 2004-2006 he started to see a change in his earnings. "When the Dow went down, I started making 150 bucks a day, same amount of time, same size crowds. It completely went down the s*****," he said.
Unlike Campbell, Rodriguez said he does not life off of the money he earns performing. "It's been something that I come out and do just to relieve stress and, you know, to make gas money and insurance money, [to pay the] cell phone bill. That's really all it can do for me," he said. He added that he does not see himself performing past the age of 23, when he expects to be out of school and working at another job.
All four performers commented that the seasons also affected their daily earnings. Campbell said that he plans to move to Key West, Fla. for the winter, although "it's better up here" as far as tips go. Rodriguez, on the other hand, said he will try his luck and stay at Faneuil Hall with hopes that the influx of holiday shoppers will help him out.