‘Let’s turn York’s empty shops into pop-up art and music venues’

Which street performer will take the award? Photograph: James Balensiefen / Unsplash
26 Sep 2018 @ 7.21 pm
| Entertainment

The York Culture Awards return for their second year in 2018 – but you haven’t long to enter.

The awards celebrate the best this city can offer in arts and entertainment. Anyone can enter, there are 15 categories and the closing date is September 28.

In the run up to the deadline we are asking York Culture Award judges for their thoughts on the artistic scene in the city.

Today it’s the turn of Jericho Keys who is lead judge in the Outstanding Busker category.

‘Talented, creative and driven ’

An amazing opportunity… the Great Yorkshire Fringe
What makes York’s cultural scene special?
It’s the colossal amount of talented, creative and driven folks, we have within our postcode that make these things happen, that I find exhilarating.

The ‘scene’ is special because it’s very diverse, eclectic and dare I say, spontaneous? The events that seem to pop up on our doorstep, all year round, is undeniable really, isn’t it?

What are you looking for in an outstanding busker?
To be outstanding outdoors darling! Haha, no, for me I think it’s all about originality, good voice, great musicianship and a sense of imagination. I don’t by any means think buskers need be playing riffs with their teeth like Hendrix on Parliament Street (if you can though, fair play).

You can make people stop in the street, by being authentic and creative with the songs you’re performing, whether they’re your own or covers. I spotted a band performing The Buzzcocks’ Ever Fallen in Love the other day, in a sort of skittle shuffle style and it was 10/10.

I think in a nutshell, play on the street like you would on stage, you never know who might be wandering past with their bags of shopping.

What culture in York have you most enjoyed this year?
The Great Yorkshire Fringe is always an amazing opportunity for locals and tourists to immerse themselves in comedy, theatre and music.

All the performances are within a stones throw of each other, so you can stumble upon something and someone you’ve never heard of before. That’s the beauty of a festival.

What is the strangest or most memorable cultural event you have ever seen in York?
I don’t think I’ll ever get my head around seeing masses of people walking through York swinging Viking axes and beating shields with swords.

I always get caught out every year and once ended up in the middle, leading a chant for a ‘work’ interview in my normal clothes. As you can imagine I stood out like a sore thumb and was most certainly ‘memorable’.

What do you think York’s cultural scene is missing?
York in my opinion needs more community based spaces for people to practise and showcase their art, in whatever form that may be.

Whether you’re a musician, artist or photographer, it all costs money and if you need to rehearse / practise you need a space to do it in. I’m really not fond of the idea that people can’t flourish in their chosen field due to their financial status.

I’ve also heard, on the music side, that some support bands are expected to ‘pay to play’ or sell X amount of tickets to enable them a slot with a headline band, that’s just wrong on so many levels.

I think before Stonebow House was developed, the idea that you could use that office space for community events was fantastically cool and worthwhile. I saw some brilliant gigs and exhibitions there during its short life.

We see so many empty shops on York’s high street, I think it would be a great idea for the city, if the landlords of the premises allowed the buildings to be pop shops for art projects, while they wait to lease them out again.

What are your hopes and fears for York’s cultural scene in the future?
My hopes are that York keeps increasing its reputation as a cultural hub within the country and that more touring acts stop off in the city.

I also have my fingers crossed, that people keep appreciating what a talented bunch of people we have in this city, but then again, we know, so that’s the most important thing.

Jericho Keys presents BBC Music Introducing in North Yorkshire

York Culture Awards

The York Culture Awards celebrates excellence in the arts and culture sector and rewards outstanding innovation, creativity and quality.

They are an opportunity to showcase our city-wide cultural achievements and future plans, as well as to inspire and motivate organisations, businesses and educational institutions to make York’s cultural offer stronger.