Dinner/Live Music Fundraiser, Leeds

Dinner/Live Music Fundraiser, Leeds

BOOK TICKETS FOR THIS EVENT NOW

Learn more about WHY we are fundraising here

Enjoy a luxury three-course dinner at multi award-winning Hansas Vegetarian Indian Restaurant in Leeds with LIVE MUSIC from the remarkable Beccy Owen, Jamie Fletcher, Jonny Walker & many others!

The talented singer/songwriter Beccy Owen

The talented singer/songwriter Beccy Owen

Also performing, the awesome Jamie Fletcher Band

Also performing, the awesome Jamie Fletcher Band

 

Plus, amazing and high-value prizes auctioned from: a Masterchef privately cooking for you in your home to luxury beauty products, signed Jon Gomm memorabilia and acoustic guitars!

Signed Jon Gomm CDs, posters and T-shirts will be auctioned

Signed Jon Gomm CDs, posters and T-shirts will be auctioned

This unique event will be held on March 23rd from 5pm until 9:30pm. Ticket cost £27 for a three-course meal and live entertainment – profits will go to the Keep Streets Live UK legal and campaign fund.

The inspirational Hansa, serving up some culinary delights

The inspirational Hansa, serving up some culinary delights

Please join us – it’ll be a lot of fun and great to meet you.

LIKE Hansa’s Restaurant on Facebook

The Fighting Fund: Part Two

DONATE to our campaign here

This is a follow up to a campaign that recently finished on indiegogo which you can see at this link. We are aiming to cover all of our costs for a historic High Court Challenge against one of the most draconian anti-busking laws in modern UK history which has been introduced in Camden and sets a precedent for other towns and cities in the UK.  Although we believe that some policies, like Camden’s, are so restrictive they must be challenged in the courts, it is our preference wherever possible to work alongside local and national government to design policies that genuinely enhance the wellbeing of our towns and cities. This campaign will help to provide us with the resources to enable us to do this effectively.

 

  • My name is Jonny Walker. I am a Liverpool-born singer/songwriter, full-time street performer and the Founding Director of the not-for-profit Keep Streets Live Campaign. Our mission is to protect and promote public space as a legitimate forum for informal performances of art and music in the face of laws and policies that marginalise and criminalise the ancient tradition of street art and performance.
  • What are we protecting? A spontaneous and vibrant street culture brings life to our towns and cities. It helps create urban community and a unique sense of place at a time when our high streets are all too often populated by the same chain stores and characterised by uniformity. Despite this, hundreds of local authorities across the UK have introduced heavy handed restrictions that discourage people from performing art and music on the streets and often result in town centres which are desolate and devoid of colour. We want to stop that happening, not only in Camden, but anywhere else in the UK!

 

  • Our vision is to see towns and cities across the UK embrace grassroots street culture and to adopt policies that are supportive of informal performances of art and music. We want to help local authorities across the country to treat street entertainment as a fantastic opportunity to bring life and colour to our communities rather than as a problem that needs to be legislated against. Existing legislation against noise nuisance, obstruction and antisocial behaviour is more than adequate to deal with any problems that arise from busking.
  • Whilst we will always be prepared to challenge policies and attitudes that undermine or threaten a vibrant and spontaneous street culture, we will always be willing to work alongside local authorities to help them create genuine opportunities for cooperation and working together for the good of everybody. We passionately believe in culture as a means to human flourishing!
What have we done so far?

 

  • Last year in Liverpool, a city synonymous with live music, I helped lead a campaign against a license scheme similar to Camden’s which threatened street musicians with trespass prosecutions, banned under 18s from playing music and placed severe restrictions on the life of the streets. Our campaign was successful and the new law was overturned. We are now working with Liverpool Council and the Musician’s Union to draw together a fair and open ‘best practise guide’ for street performing that balances the needs of all the users who share public spaces. We aim to create a ‘best practise’ template for street culture which can easily be adapted to the needs and contexts of other towns and cities across the UK and beyond.
  • In York we set up a petition calling on the Council to scrap a highly restrictive license schemeand to make the streets more open. Again, as a direct result of our campaign, York’s civic leaders made significant changes to their policy and invited musicians, street performers and other bodies to be part of an ongoing dialogue.
  • In Camden we have set up a petition signed by over 6800 people and counting. We have engaged with local councillors to communicate the importance of a vibrant and spontaneous street culture. With one exception every Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Green Councillor voted against Camden’s new anti-busking law. We had well-attended ‘protest busks’ and created the ‘Citizen’s Kazoo Orchestra’ to highlight the absurdity of musician’s having their instruments seized by the council or the police.
  • Our High Court challenge aims to overturn the unjust law that Camden have introduced. Once that has happened we hope that the Council will choose to work alongside us to introduce a new policy that works for the good of everyone!
  • Why We Need Your Help

    We are challenging a local authority with a budget of hundreds of millions and we are a tiny grassroots organisation. The court has recognised this and granted us a protective costs order of £7500 which is the maximum amount we will have to pay whatever the outcome of our case.
    Our first indiegogo campaign raised a headline figure of £7575 but that is not the final amount that we are able to hold in reserve for our legal challenge.
    Firstly, because our first campaign didn’t reach its initial target (Set at £25,000, before we were granted a protective cost order) indiegogo deduct 9% from our campaign fund as their fee which was £681.75.
    Secondly, we wanted to set up the Keep Streets Live Campaign as a not for profit organisation with a written constitution and defined mission to protect street culture. We employed Wrigley’s Solicitors in Leeds, specialist charity’s lawyers, to write our constitution and articles of association so that we would have a formal structure for the work we plan to do and this cost £600.

    Thirdly, we had to pay for the making of two ‘pitch’ videos for the campaign, as well as the design, manufacture and postage of the perks (badges, post-cards, prints and t-shirts) that we are offering in return for donations. In addition, our some of our perks (Such as the fund-raising dinner) have underlying costs that we need to cover before putting the donation towards our fund. Taken together these campaign costs amount to approximately £1100 for the last campaign.

    £7575 – £681.75 – £600 – £1100 = £5193 left

    So we have a further £2307 in order to raise our target figure of £7500. That is why we have set up this second campaign. We have set the target figure at £2700 to reflect the fact that indiegogo will charge us 4% if we reach our target and 9% if we don’t, and to cover the future costs of producing perks to send out to people (or, in the case of the fund-raising dinner, to feed people!). We’ve got lots of great perks left over from the last campaign, and with new ones still to be announced are confident of hitting our new target!

    If we win our case, the money raised will be used to resource our newly founded not for profit organisation as we seek to implement positive policies in other towns and cities across the UK and also to make a discretionary payment to our legal team who have been acting on our behalf on a conditional fee arrangement (no upfront cost).

    If our case is unsuccessful at this stage we have the choice of appeal and have a court guarantee that our legal costs will not exceed £7500. Your contributions will safeguard us for this eventuality.

     

    Other Ways You Can Help

    We have been delighted that over 300 people contributed to our last campaign. The support of people from across the world has been a source of tremendous encouragement…thank you!

    We are a growing community of artists, performers, musicians and people who value public spaces that are open to the creative arts. Even if you are unable to contribute financially at this time, we would still love for you to get involved.

    Contact me on jonnywalker@me.com to find out how!

    Join with us as we seek to protect and preserve the ancient freedoms of the street and find creative ways to build urban community and to Keep Streets Live!

    Join our Facebook Group and follow our page

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

    https://www.facebook.com/KeepStreetsLive

    http://keepstreetslive.com

The Fight to Keep Streets Live in Camden

This week’s blog post offers an update on the Keep Streets Live Campaign which is challenging Camden Borough Council’s decision in November 2013 to license busking within the Borough, supported by musicians such as Billy Bragg and Jon Gomm and comedians including Mark Thomas and Bill Bailey. Founding director of ASAP! (Association of Street Artists and Performers), Jonny Walker, offers an update on the Campaign’s progress and explains how to get involved.

As part of our ongoing mission to protect public space as a legitimate forum for informal performances of art and music , the Keep Streets Live Campaign has launched a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo to raise money for a historic legal challenge against the decision of Camden Council to introduce draconian controls against busking across the entire borough. Human rights solicitors Leigh Day, acting on our behalf, have served papers against the Labour-led council in the High Court, asking a judge to rule its new busking policy unlawful on the grounds that it is disproportionate, unlawfully wide in its scope, and that it breaches Article 10 of the Human Rights Act – Freedom of expression – which includes music and not just the written and spoken word.

 

On November 11th 2013 Camden Council narrowly passed a resolution which introduced the most restrictive busking policy in modern UK history across the 22 square kilometres of this diverse and vibrant metropolitan borough of London. Under this new legal framework, singing and playing music in the streets, even if just done for fun, in any public space in Camden has become a criminal offence unless a person had first successfully applied and paid for a licence by demonstrating to a council panel that they are a ‘fit and proper person’ to hold a licence. Buskers face fines of up to £1000 for ‘unlicensed’ busking, for breaching the terms and conditions of their licence, or even, strangely, for ‘causing another person to busk’. The local authority, the police and even private contractors will have the power under this law to seize the musical instruments and equipment from people by force and to sell them if fines have not been paid after 28 days. These powers are not even available to bailiffs who, when collecting debts from people, are forbidden from taking the tools of a person’s trade.

Not content with making potential criminals of all musicians who wish to play on the street, Camden Council has created a complex two-tier busking licence scheme which discriminates against musicians depending on their instrument of choice. If you play acoustic guitar then you pay £19 and wait five working days, after which time you may be granted a ‘standard’ licence. However, if you want to play as part of an ensemble, use any wind or percussion instrument, or use any amplification then you are excluded from the ‘standard’ licence and required to apply for a ‘special’ licence. This costs £47 pounds and takes at least 20 working days to apply for. Strict terms and conditions will be imposed on the successful ‘special’ licence applicant and people who don’t want the busker to hold a licence will be able to appeal against the decision to grant the licence, which may then be withdrawn summarily.  Any breach of the terms and conditions of the licence will itself be a criminal offence. It is likely that this policy will greatly reduce opportunities for spontaneity, joy and colour from the street music scene in Camden.

Busking and public space are intertwined. Busking, by its nature is an informal and impromptu performance of art and music in a space that is open to the public. It is a very democratic cultural phenomenon, open to anybody who wants to share their art with passersby.  At a time when high streets are under pressure from rapid social change, the rise of internet shopping and out of town shopping developments, buskers create a unique sense of place and community in urban landscapes that are otherwise dominated by the same multinational companies.  They are part of a small vanguard against the forces of homogenization and dull conformity. Introducing compulsory licences and charges for busking and harsh criminal penalties for non-compliance is likely to make these urban public spaces less accessible to those who need the forum of the streets the most: the young musicians just starting out, the excluded, the vulnerable, the poor and the marginalized. It is a form of urban sanitization, social exclusion and pre-emptive punishment and it serves to deprive public spaces and the people who use them of exposure to street culture such as art and live music. Some might be tempted to say that this is not just a mistaken decision by Camden Council, but an act of cultural vandalism.

For many visitors and residents, street music is an integral part of Camden’s cultural identity.Camden Council is happy to draw upon its musical identity when it suits them to do so:

Camden Town is internationally renowned as one of the most dynamic and unique places in London.

Iconic for its alternative fashions and acclaimed music scene, the markets, shops and entertainment venues draw the crowds in their thousands”

Despite these words, Camden Council’s actions speak much louder. In response to complaints about busking from a total of 56 people in a Borough with 220,000 residents, the Council has introduced some of the most draconian controls against street music of any local authority in the country. It has ignored a petition signed by 6294 people asking it to pull back from its decision; it has chosen not to take up the offer of the Musicians’ Union, a body representing 30,000 musicians, to help them develop a fair and transparent busking policy based on good practice in other cities across the UK; and it has disregarded the hundreds of people who have joined us on the streets of Camden to protest this draconian new law alongside comedians Mark Thomas and Bill Bailey and musicians Billy Bragg and Jon Gomm.

Now, we are asking a High Court judge to strike down this damaging law and to ask Camden Council to come up with a different policy, one that protects the diversity and vibrancy of this unique and special part of London.  The generous contributions of our supporters have made this legal challenge possible and will help us protect public space nationally as a forum for grassroots culture.

To find out ways in which you can help and to make a donation please visit this link.

For regular campaign updates please visit:-

Keep Streets Live Campaign website

and

Keep Streets Live Campaign Facebook Page

Jonny Walker
Founding director of ASAP! (Association of Street Artists and Performers)

This article was first published on January 16th on the Live Music Exchange Blog