Street Performer shot whilst working in Chile

Street Performer shot whilst working in Chile


Puedes leer el texto en Enpañol aqui: 

On Friday 6th of February 2021 in the city of Panguipulli, province of Valdivia, Chile, a street performer was shot and killed by a uniformed police officer whilst working a regular pitch. The street performing and artistic community has received this as a personal attack with deep anguish.

Livelihoods have been complicated. First through the social revolution that began October 18th of 2019 and then the global pandemic that followed in close pursuit by March 2020 deeply affecting the same artists that have worked tirelessly to support and maintain community whilst struggling to survive as the situation has risen to isolate and divide individuals worldwide in a place with sparse governmental support.

For those who are not accustomed to stoplight performers ‘El Semaforo’, is a popular part of South American street performing culture. When the lights go red and traffic stops, the artist will step out to perform predominantly to the rows of cars and but not excluding pedestrians. Timed perfectly, just before the lights change the performer will take a bow and pass by the cars hat in hand before ducking out of the traffic and returning to the crossing to prepare for the next show. Short, sharp and fast paced entertainment with an ever-evolving range of talents, costumes and artistic concepts are carried out in this way. 


Since the pandemic began a group called ACU ‘Artistas Callejeros Unidos’ has been working for the past year to create unity, strengthen street code of conduct and increase visibility of this highly marginalised part of the community.

I spoke with Mauricio Orellana, more commonly known in artistic circles as El Mao, a long time well respected street performer of both Semaforo and circle shows, educator and active member of ACU to find out about what has been going on during this sad and terrible time for the artistic community.

‘The police brutality has reached national news and has incited numerous protests for the dissolution of the organisation. The response has led to large support from the public as artists are speaking out and being heard as they express their marginalisation within society and their integral part within it.’

Since the incident on the 6th there have been other reports of street performers being persecuted by the police resulting in artists being charged with large fines and detained overnight in prison.

I also spoke with Andrea Verdugo, artistic name Petekia Rudelaris, clown, juggler, street performer, Master of Ceremonies, teacher and workshop leader and member of prominent organisations in Chile that aim to promote the support of artists and the importance of artistic outreach within the community.

She says ‘The Semaforo’ is the first stage. It is the first glimpse, opportunity when someone can try out, improve, hone their artistic talents with a live and willing public and be respectfully paid for their work.’ It permits a valid opportunity to generate income via the arts with many artists starting in the traffic lights and going on to gain the confidence to express their artistic findings in other areas of culture.

Others perfect their shows to such degree that it can become a primary source of income. Popular success stories such as ‘Juan Carlos Muñoz’ the first Chilean clown to grace Cirque du Solei who began with few opportunities available due to a country in the heavy recoil of a dictatorship, the traffic lights offered a place to work, express and lighten the load and after long and hard dedication eventually lead on to a prominent career in Cirque du Solei, which itself started out as a street show. All starting with stepping out for that minute to give it your all. To trial, to test, to fail and then hopefully succeed in unpredictable conditions to earn a crust alongside your self-worth. I do not believe in a challenging enough environment police brutality should be included in this unpredictability. 

I think there is a lacking in understanding in the nomadic artform, rich in hundreds of years of free  flowing history and of the importance of street performance as part of a shared worldwide culture. Often overlooked as a starting point for much bigger things and lacks respect within in its own right as a moving, breathing art form made by a community that in its essence does not discriminate its public based on gender, physical appearance, health or economic status, race, beliefs, preferences or age. It exists in the moment for the human being there to see it and is finetuned by the desires and needs of the very public it wishes to serve. 

So what can anyone do to help? On a larger and more immediate scale using #elartecallejeronoesdelito (street performance is not a crime) in social media which creates a direct link alongside #buskersunite and #savelondonbuskers to create solidarity within the community with any relative ways you wish to comment and show support to Chilean artists and street performers would be greatly appreciated. You can also get in more direct contact through if you wish to speak to a member of ACU, Spanish speaking will be necessary.  


The Arts Council England has recently released two reports commenting on the importance of Street Performance as part a thriving community and the growing evidence of its promotion of social cohesion and support of local economies to build civic pride and create an increased sense of belonging in communities through culture led regeneration. Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor, said: “As we begin our recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, it will be vital to protect and rebuild public spaces and encourage people to get back out to responsibly support our local businesses, town centres and creative industries.”*

In the light of this terrible incident once can only hope that it serves to create greater unity in the street performing community that it seems is going through a worldwide test of strength alongside the public who we work for.

Danielle De La Wonk

Street Performer

Photo credits – Male artists – Jose Onetto
Female Artist – Lucas Alvaro Paredes

Is busking allowed during lockdown?

Is busking allowed during lockdown?

“The law states that: “If you cannot work from home you should continue to travel to your workplace… You do not need to be classed as a critical worker to go to work if you cannot work from home.”

Our understanding is that, as long as a crowd is not being drawn and social distancing remains possible, busking is allowed under the current guidelines.

We would strongly encourage street performers to maintain social distancing and take measures to ensure their workplace is Covid-safe


Below are some bite sized chunks of law and guidance to help you make things clear to those who challenge your right to work.


Restrictions on movement

6.—(1) During the emergency period, no person may leave the place where they are living without reasonable excuse.

(2) For the purposes of paragraph (1), a reasonable excuse includes the need

(f)to travel for the purposes of work or to provide voluntary or charitable services, where it is not reasonably possible for that person to work, or to provide those services, from the place where they are living;


If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay in your local area – unless it is necessary to go further, for example to go to work.

You can only leave home for work purposes where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home. This includes, but is not limited to, people who work within critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing that require in-person attendance.

You do not need to be classed as a critical worker to go to work if you cannot work from home.

You are allowed to stay overnight away from your home if you… require accommodation for work purposes or to provide voluntary services.


The police have a range of powers they can use to enforce coronavirus restriction regulations. They can only use these powers in response to a public health need.

Differences between Government information and legal restrictions caused confusion about how the lockdown should be enforced… officers have sometimes (wrongly) enforced guidance rather than the law.


You can travel from the other end of the country to Cleethorpes or wherever in our area so long as you have a reasonable excuse. Not being local is not a reason we can give an FPN for. Fact. You don’t need to be local so having to define it is not relevant.

The issue is, do you have a reasonable excuse for being out and that can apply to someone from Hull or Grimsby or Bradford or London.

There is a real difference in what you can and should do but as long as you have a reasonable excuse you are allowed to leave your house.

You can travel to where you want for exercise but whether it is wise… Doing something unwise doesn’t make it illegal.

Rainbow Funktion

Rainbow Funktion
On August 17th we hosted an event at Rainbow Junction in Leeds. Part of our program of collaborating with like-minded community and/or non-profit organisations. We entertained the lunchtime diners, and also had the chance for a post-lockdown catch up. The event was broadcast on our Keep Streets Live Streams channel.
Thanks to those musicians who took part:

Rainbow Junktion is a Pay-As-You-Feel community café based at All Hallows’ Church, 24 Regent Terrace, Leeds LS6 1NP

We intercept waste food produce to create healthy meals every Monday, Thursday and Friday for whoever walks in the door. Everyone is welcome.

We have 3 course lunch available, plus WIFI, phone charging and basic food shopping.

If you would like to volunteer then please email