Only two short months after being forced to abandon their contentious and coercive busking license scheme, we have reliable reports that Liverpool City Council are up to their old tricks again. We have received information that individual street artists and performers have been approached by police officers and council officials and asked to give their names and addresses. Many performers have been approached on multiple occasions in what amounts to a coordinated campaign of harassment and intimidation.
In the light of the savage cuts to essential services that the council are having to put through, we think that a new campaign against the buskers of Liverpool is a terrible misuse of the council’s scarce time and resources. Our shared public spaces are a vitally important resource for our communities. Buskers help create a sense of place and identity for a city. Compulsory license schemes are bureaucratic, restrictive and unnecessary. A common sense voluntary code of conduct is all that is needed to promote a vibrant culture of street performance. Issues that arise from time to time can easily be dealt with on a case by case basis without the need for regulation.
ASAP! exists to help protect our public spaces and to safeguard street culture. We want to help local authorities to see the benefits of street animation, and to help them realize that this is one area of city life where a light-touch, hands-off approach will bear fruit. The city council at its best is a steward of our shared resources and exists to promote and protect the common good. When it goes after street performers in a misguided attempt to create ‘order’ on the streets, it departs from its primary function. We ask them to seriously consider whether sending out enforcement officials and police officers to intimidate people who are bringing life and colour to the streets is a good use of their time and efforts at this time.
In order to help Liverpool City Council see sense, and to raise awareness of this new campaign of intimidation, we are arranging a spontaneous celebration of street culture in the form of a communal busk this Thursday the 22nd of November on Church Street, Liverpool, just outside of Primark. We will be gathering from 5pm onwards with our instruments of choice. This will be a peaceful and joyful occasion. Everyone is welcome. We will be a positive presence on the streets! And remember, wether you are a street artist and performer, or just someone who values and cherishes street culture, ASAP! is here for you. We will not stand aside whilst local authorities conduct misguided clampdowns on a vital aspect of civic life. We will continue to campaign to keep streets live!
We will jam, we will play, we will never go away!