Mark Jones is partnerships manager at Destination Basingstoke. He has worked in Basingstoke for 27 years, including 13 years as editor of the Gazette and eight years as director of communications and fundraising at Ark Cancer Charity.

THE streets of Basingstoke town centre are all too often ‘alive’ with the sound of…silence.

I have long thought that one of the things that would help to enhance Basingstoke town centre, and particularly the Top of Town area, would be the sound of music in the streets.

Every time I go to Winchester, there is at least one musician, and usually more, performing in the High Street. These performers definitely add to the atmosphere and ambience of the city, and the whole visitor experience.

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It’s good news that this summer, the town centre will be the setting for circus, dance, music and street theatre from a mix of national and local acts as part of the borough council-funded Basingstoke Festival, which takes place between Friday, June 21 and Sunday, July 7.

Unfortunately, such entertainment is akin to an oasis in a desert when it comes to local town centre street performances.

Surely, there must be a way to encourage more local buskers and street performers to bring more life to Basingstoke town centre? There must be lots of local performers who, given the opportunity and encouragement, would jump at the chance to showcase their talents in the town centre for no or minimal cost.

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Of course, it would be good to have some form of rota and quality control. That shouldn’t be beyond the power of the impressive Basingstoke cultural community to help facilitate if it is given the opportunity to.

We have some lovely venues in the Top of Town, and they are trying to attract customers, and bring in vital revenue, with music performances and themed events. However, they clearly need a helping hand to create a more vibrant atmosphere in the area, particularly during the day.

All of us know that breathing more life into the Top of Town has been a burning issue for many years. With town centres facing an increasingly challenging time, finding a way to bring the streets alive with the sound of music and other artistic performances has surely got to be a good thing. What do you think?