A group of street performers in Kyiv, on March 25, 2017.
Earning a Living on the Streets of Ukraine
Published: March 28, 2017
From Busking to Animal Suits:
the Shady and Skilled of Ukraine’s Streets Month of March, 2017
Photojournalism by Rebekah Welch
Ukraine is a beautiful country with a fascinating history. It also has an impossibly cheap cost of living. Between those two facts, it is a rapidly growing tourism center for Europe. In fact, it ranks eighth for tourists continent-wide, according to the State Statistics Committee of Ukraine. Taking this into consideration, it is not surprising that the city streets of Kyiv, Lviv, and Odessa contain a considerable sum of people who are…shall we say…alternatively employed.
Being from a town in Montana that enjoys a large tourism industry and inconceivably beautiful summers, I am no stranger to homeless people, buskers, and panhandlers or even homeless busking panhandlers. Truth be told, though, none of them has ever seemed a nuisance to me. After all, we all have different advantages in life, and you have to make a living somehow. Before coming to Ukraine, I truly thought I had seen it all. I was wrong. From skilled and talented artists to straight-up hustlers, let’s explore the world of Ukraine’s street industry.
You can’t wander far in the city centers of Kyiv, Odessa, or Lviv without hearing busker music. As in just about any big city, they’re everywhere. However, these are not just the typical barefoot guitar or banjo slinging, Bob Dylan covering buskers I’ve become so accustomed to in the Northwest. In Ukraine, they mean business.
Don’t be fooled. Not everyone earning money on the streets are as deserving as trained musicians. Where there are tourists, there are locals who will take advantage of them. In Ukraine, there are certainly some creative ways of doing so.
Rebekah Welch is a senior at University of Montana in Missoula. She is a double major in Russian and Journalism with an emphasis on photography. She is studying Russian language at NovaMova in Kiev, and am also working for the school as an intern, creating a photoblog. After a semester abroad, she hopes to become fluent enough in Russian that she can work as photojournalist throughout Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. Although she loves this area of the world, she has a passion for journalism and will go wherever the story takes her.