Accepted paper:

The place of street performing in the atmospheres of Chiado's urban economy


Daniel Paiva (NOVA University of Lisbon)
Pedro Guimarães (Lisbon University)
Leandro Gabriel (Lisbon University)

Paper short abstract:

The objective of this paper is to approach the relations between street performers and other economic agents in the urban economy of Chiado. The fieldwork we have conducted includes field surveys, interviews, and a geoethnography of the urban rhythms of Chiado.

Paper long abstract:

Alongside the increase of tourism in Lisbon, the economic activities of the city centre have changed profoundly. Within this scenario, we witness an increasing presence of street performers in the most affluent streets. In street performing, or busking, artists perform their acts on the street, receiving donations from passersby who stop to contemplate the performance. Albeit informal, street performing is an organized activity in affluent sites where artists have to compete for space and time on the street. Street performers contribute toward the economy of attention in city centres. It has been argued that, in a context of the experience economy, the captivation of the consumer's attention has become the main focus of firms who intend to provide meaningful experiences to consumers. Street performances play an important role in captivating the attention of tourists, thus contributing to the urban economy. At same time, street performers must negotiate space and time with formal activities that take place in city centres such as high street retail. On one hand, the artistic practices of street performers have certain necessities in terms of space and materialities. On the other hand, formal agents may wish to attract or repel street performers as they perceive their activities are beneficial or prejudicial for their business. In this paper, we will approach these issues through an exploration of street performance in Chiado, a neighbourhood in the city centre of Lisbon with a high density of retail and cultural facilities aimed for tourism and consumption.

panel Econ04
"Bring back my neighbourhood!": heritage, expressive cultures and the production of urban ambiances for tourist consumption in the contemporary city