Former street performer turned Dresden Dolls frontwoman and now solo artist, Amanda Palmer has shown her support for our barely-24-hours-old campaign via Twitter. To a million followers, she retweeted ASAP! Founding Director, Jonny Walker’s tweet calling for people to sign the new petition. The petition aims to collect signatures to support the KeepStreetsLive and ASAP! campaign against a draconian busking policy that Camden Council are threatening to rubber stamp.
Amanda responded to Mr Walker’s campaign directly:
“We are us RT @JonnyWMusic thank you for standing up for those of us who are still making a living on the streets. You are an inspiration…”
Mr Walker replied:
“@Amandapalmer when you are next in London we’d love you to participate in a mass, kazoo-led street protest against Camden’s new laws…”
Amanda is a key inspiration for the leading members of ASAP!, as a fellow agent in lending credibility to street performance and its many positive effects on the atmosphere of a neighbourhood. No-one quite sums up kick-ass artist extraordinaire, Amanda like TED Talks, who invited her to lead one of its famous conferences:
“The singer-songwriter-blogger-provocateur, known for pushing boundaries in both her art and her lifestyle, made international headlines this year when she raised nearly $1.2 million via Kickstarter (she’d asked for $100k) from nearly 25,000 fans who pre-ordered her new album, Theatre Is Evil.”
There’s something wonderful about artists and like-minded people uniting and saying ‘hang on a minute’ to the powers that be. Blocking culture from taking place on the streets is a dangerous sign of things to come, unless we take notice NOW, and engage with the policy making process, our high streets risk becoming clone-like and dull at best and lifeless corporate shells at worst. Let’s clear up a popular point of tension; if a busker is causing a genuine threat or nuisance on the streets then there are many existing laws to tackle such issues: like the Public Order Act, Environmental Protection Act and Highways Act, to name but a few. Ring-fencing a public space with an empire of law and ‘order’ is a direct assault on grassroots culture, artistic freedoms and a basic human right to ‘get up, ‘stand up’ (to borrow from Bob Marley).
The Camden Keep Streets Live campaign is going to be one tough battle and we’ll need to draw upon a lot of support. The streets belong to everybody and, yes, that includes human statues called ‘The Eight-Foot Bride’, clarinet players, penny whistlers and beat-box groups – not just powerful brand names or the usual retailers we see up and down the country. Cleaning up the streets should refer to bin collection etc, rather than the forced removal of musicians and artists from promising paving stones. Camden Council are gathering suits and clipboards, so we need to assemble a more colourful crowd…