A Significant Anniversary

A Significant Anniversary

 What a journey! The Keep Streets Live Campaign was born two years ago with a simple but vital mission to advocate for public spaces that are open to informal offerings of art and music and to seek to build positive relationships between local authorities and street performers whilst developing policies that support and sustain street culture. The campaign was a response to Liverpool Council’s plans to introduce one of the most restrictive busking policies of any major UK city in July 2012 which included threats of trespass prosecutions against unlicensed buskers on the public highway, bans on under 18s and huge restrictions on where and when people could perform. 2012-08-22 16.20.332012-08-22 15.14.12 http://www.liverpoolconfidential.co.uk/Culture/Ged-Gibbons-v-Johnny-Walker http://www.liverpoolconfidential.co.uk/News-and-Comment/Exclusive-Liverpool-busking-policy-thrown-out

Challenging their decision with creativity and passion Liverpool’s grassroots cultural community asked the council to work alongside them and not against them to design a policy based on preserving spontaneity and openness to public space for art and music and using dialogue and communication to resolve disputes. To their immense credit, the council listened and just two years later they have partnered with Keep Streets Live to introduce a scheme based on partnership between buskers, the council and local businesses which will make it a pioneer amongst British cities for the way it encourages and nurtures buskers. An open busker’s forum will be held in Liverpool to which everybody is welcome to discuss ongoing issues. We will also meet regularly with the council to maintain positive relationships.


In March 2013 the campaign successfully challenged York City Council’s restrictive compulsory license scheme which required performers to apply in advance, audition and pay £40 per day if they wished to make CDs available. York Council abandoned their license scheme in response to our challenge but there is much work still to be done there to improve relationships between the council and the busking community. An open busker meeting is going to be held at El Piano, Grape Lane, YO1 7HU, in York at 6pm on Monday 14th July to discuss these issues. All who care about preserving street culture are welcome to this open meeting. Feel free to join the facebook event page and to invite friends along: https://www.facebook.com/events/264543563738841/

Lastly, our challenge to Camden Council’s Cromwellian anti-culture law continues. Lib Dem Peer Lord Clement-Jones, a well-known supporter of live music who brought in the Live Music Act in 2012 as a private member’s bill, has proposed the effective repeal of the law underpinning Camden’s draconian busking legislation in the House of Lords. Meanwhile the Court of Appeal will consider our ongoing legal challenge on the 6th of October. We will not let this unjust and repressive law remain unchallenged. Read more here: http://keepstreetslive.com/blog/2014/07/busking-laws-and-the-lords The Keep Streets Live Campaign is part of a London mayoral taskforce with a mandate to, in the words of Boris Johnson, make the capital into the ‘world’s most busker friendly city’. We will keep you posted on all developments and have much work to do in the capital city where attitudes towards buskers are best described as medieval! Meanwhile if you have any questions or comments or want to get involved with the campaign in any way, please feel free to reply to this email. There are regional Keep Streets Live facebook groups which you are welcome to join to keep in touch with our work.

With thanks,

Jonny Walker

Director of Keep Streets Live Campaign



Liverpool https://www.facebook.com/groups/keepstreetslive/

Camden https://www.facebook.com/groups/keepstreetslivecamden/

Yorkshire and Humber https://www.facebook.com/groups/KeepstreetsliveYorkshireandHumber/

London https://www.facebook.com/groups/keepstreetsliveinlondon/

This post was written by
Singer-Songwriter/Professional Street Performer/Campaigner/Wandering Minstrel

10 Comments on "A Significant Anniversary"

  • Happy Anniversary Liverpool, its official, you’re now a bona fide ‘Busking’ city!.

  • I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion after 3 years of Street Performing that ‘Busking’ is like pornography, its just too easy!. I’m also beginning to believe that Busking like pornography is not a place for the ‘liberated’ soul at all. Truth is, its really a realm for the exploitation of the ‘repressed’ !.

  • Oh and Jonny I’ve just read your StreetsLive ‘mission’ statement, interesting reading, I note a core value appears to be the desire to build some sort of community on the streets.

    Ha! Ha! a recent comment of yours immediately springs to mind here, the one where you go onto praise your own Liverpool campaign as the successful coming together of a city busking population of ‘ misfits’ and ‘eccentrics’ ( your words not mine ) who are now working positively with the status quo ie. Liverpool City Council. The BID etc etc etc.

    A rather premature celebration here though, ‘community-wise’, methinks!. Afterall what are you trying to build here? In this context, your ‘particular’ vision of the streets appears to merely amount to some kind of misplaced ideal of a community of contemporary Lumpenproletariat.

    Speaking for myself, a ‘jobbing’ Street Performer of some 3 years now, working in Birmingham ( and thereabouts! ) I view myself as an ‘individual’ first i.e. primarily an up and coming ‘independant’ artist, and a member of any supposed ‘ideal’ community second. In fact any social/cultural formation I envisage myelf belonging to in the future, I see as one very much informed by/linked together via ‘artistic’ ties rather than religious or social class values. I’m very much a person searching for the ‘human’ transcendant and definitely not the theocratic one.

    Furthermore on this, albeit, loose topic of religion, I also note that you have made your father John H Walker: Missionary and Anglican Vicar , an Associate Director of Keep Streets Live Ltd. I note that his stated goal, yes wait for it!, is to find ways of generating worship on the streets. This of course is not a surprising aspiration ( it should’nt shock anyone! ) given the reality of our ‘contemporary’ Post Modern Society, in fact yes, its a common ( given the context dare I say it ‘rational’ ) spiritual desire found amongst many Christians today – to take worship to the people that is, to take the Church to the streets!.

    For example, Birmingham is currently full of ‘wierd’ looking middle-aged guys ( and women ) dressed in rather ‘drab’, grey looking raincoats, attempting to hand out various copies of WatchTowner publications to passing members of the public who don’t want them, brush them off and hurry on by, despite the fact that they are ‘free’.

    All this kinda ‘current’ ‘religio/socio’ frenetic activity you find more and more prevalent in our city-centre high streets, as you’re entrancing or exiting our city-centre train stations kinda does beg the question, in a highly ironic sense that is, and it is a ‘fact’ that don’t have to point it out to these people, Jonny Walkers Dad an’ all, you don’t necessarily have to state out loud unequivocable remarks, in their direction, to the effect of ” Leave off, you bunch of creeps, don’t ya realise, nobody goes to Church on Sunday’s anymore ?, not in this neck of the woods anyways!”.

    Again speaking for myself, one who longs for a vital injection of joy and beauty in our public spaces I actively resist all this. As a ‘serious’ Street Performer i.e. a would be Public Musican, not only am I refusing to belong to any form of ‘re-defined’ underclass, I have no desire to be labelled and put upon as some kind of community of ‘unwilling’ Christians either.

    Let truth, beauty and the Public Good reign. Nobody is above the law of humanity, nobody is above the Law of Man – no person, no bylaw, no God. The Pope, the Archbishop of Canturbury have no jurisdiction these days whatsoever, no authority at all, long let it remain so, in our hearts, our minds and our streets.

  • Oh and one more thing Jonny, it maybe even time to go beyond William Blake, whats that ‘sacrilege’ you say?.

    Well ok, I concede, he may be many a person of feelings ‘favourite’ poet eg. The Nurses Song – that beautiful commentary on childhood innocence plays recurrantly on my ‘internal’ tape recorder. Yet despite all this, he still carries for me, the unfortunate mantle of being that ‘eccentric’ poet who conversed with the Angels. So for me, and in this sense, even Blake, he must be transcended.

  • All in all Jonny, and I may just as well be talking to myself here, but after 3 years experience, as far as ‘the streets’ go, its clear to me, that this is a community that needs to be ‘transformed’, not just made.

  • Anyway heres a significant date in the calendar for ‘You’ Jonny, the ‘anniversary’ of the Individual Performers ‘independant’ struggle on the streets, as ‘an Artist’, against ‘todays’ Post Modern *’mind forged mannacles’. An ongoing conflict against the human shackles of Of Mass Culture and Commerce & its ‘Texas’ Style homogenous ‘shopping’ for leisure marketing philosophy’s, of a ‘waning’ Religion intent on taking the Church to the Public in an age where nobody goes to Church on Sundays anymore & at a time of ’emerging’ street Messiah figures ( could that be you Jonny? ) with their own proselytizing agendas.

    Again, for the ‘individual’ performer, it represents a burdgeoning conflict with ‘ the Streets’ itself eg. The Big Issue and its fringe cultures of addiction, aggressive begging, petty theft, those ultimately ‘self destructive’ behaviours that hide & effectively mask, a very real pervasive homelessness that exists in this country i.e. that sleeping on a friends couch, ‘Hostel’, on and off the dole, English working class ‘penuary’ way of life that is growing and festering at present. All at a time of ‘sanctions’ & the rather brutal ‘de-construction’ of the Welfare State begun a decade back by so called New Labour, and today ruthlessly persisted upon by a Ministerially appointed Tory ex member of the SAS.

    Yes the independant Artist out there on the streets, finds himself at ‘serious’ odds with all this, all this in an era of the Post Soviet collapse of the Berlin Wall, and the ‘very real’ containment, shrinkage and marginalisation of Socialism by an ‘interested’ group of even ‘darker’ forces, that now combined, brought together are singlemindedly hell bent on wiping out the one structural ‘balancing’ mechanism of social justice left in our ‘benevolent’ economy, the one remaining ‘state’ symbol of altruism, human charity, care and yes the human spirit, they seek but one thing, to bring about its ultimate extinction.

    So yeah, happy anniversary Jonny, I wish you and your Father, the right hon. Rev John H Walker well in building your ‘ideal’ community – a community of Christrian worship on the streets of Liverpool ( and I guess York, Norwich, London – all the other places you Jonny like to perform and play ). In the meantime, I and other ‘individuals’ like me, ‘truly’ aspiring ‘independant’ Artists of the conventional ‘Bohemian’ sort, will get on with our task, you know that rather complex business we are all involved in out here, i.e. the business of simply being creative & ‘free’! .

  • But of course Man and The Human Condition. Man in his eternal struggle, caught between the Tower and the Dungeon, the Sun and the Valley, the light of understanding and the darkness of ignorance, that fine gradation between what is real, authentic, good, wise ( the list can be easily added to ) and whatever is deceptive, illusory, intimidating, evil and foolish.

    Can I embrace all this, in all honesty, this world, this complex set of relationships, this tapestry of existence, we fair field full of folk going about our workings and doings ?. Of course I can, with open love, human sympathy, warmth and friendship. As a Street Performer, as a human being I do all of this on a daily basis.

    All of it, without the assistance of the Bible, Christianity or indeed any religous creed. Common love is a human emotion that existed way before the advent of Christ, a ‘natural’ condition that was here upon this earth long before the invention of the cult of Jesus.

  • ” What is life without the radiance of love? ”
    ( Friedrich Schiller )

    • Bytheway no offence to and ‘a shining light’ on the genuinely ‘great’ public acts I’ve seen performing on the streets of Liverpool. Good health to yer!.

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