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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 September 2006, 17:41 GMT 18:41 UK
Busking festival helps homeless
A homeless man on the street
The festival developed a link with homeless people last year
Belfast has hosted its first ever international busking convention to heighten awareness of the plight of homelessness in Northern Ireland.

About 50 artists were on the city's streets on Saturday in an effort to raise funds for The Simon Community's hardship fund during 'Music As It Is'.

They entertained shoppers in the city centre and the Cathedral Quarter.

One artist, Seasick Steve, is a settled hobo from California who started off his career sleeping on the streets.

He then began making a living from busking.

'Hobo Day'

Simon Community Chief Executive Carol O'Bryan said the event was a great opportunity "to highlight our work with homeless individuals and families".

"All monies raised by this innovative and entertaining event will be used to directly assist those who unfortunately sleep on our streets this winter," she said.

Speaking ahead of the event, Open House Festival director Kieran Gilmore said it was an opportunity "to bring music back to basics".

"The festival developed a link with homeless people last year when we ran our Hobo Day, featuring the music of ex-hobo Seasick Steve, and the documentary film Hobo by local film maker John T Davis," he said.

"This year, we want to do something to help local street sleepers, while bringing great music from the festival out onto the streets of Belfast.

"We'll have artists from all over Ireland and America playing everything from Bluegrass to Cajun to Irish traditional. A street party on your doorstep, absolutely free."

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