Harmony outside Bath Abbey?

Harmony outside Bath Abbey?

There have been heartening developments in the stand off between Bath’s busking community and the Abbey. There has been a hugely welcome outbreak of dialogue and mutual respect. Bath Abbey and the buskers have released a joint statement.

We hope that this is the beginning of a beautiful and redemptive relationship between the two communities, united in appreciation for the wonderful city of Bath. I have had some choice words for Rev Edward Mason but he is to be hugely commended for being willing to sit down with buskers and work towards a generous and open-hearted compromise. Let’s hope that this spirit of co-operation now extends to the leadership of the council who earlier this week had signalled an intention to introduce harsh new restrictions on the busking community. We hope this will now prove to be unnecessary. Instead, with buskers, the Abbey and the council working together for the common good, busking in Bath and the rich cultural life of the Abbey can be safeguarded for years to come.

Joint statement from Bath Abbey and street musicians (25 September 2014)
In light of recent events and the consequent media interest, Bath Abbey Rector Edward Mason and colleague Claire Robson met with street musicians Jack Morgan and Ben Powell today.

The meeting provided an opportunity to share how distressing the last few days have been for both the Abbey and the street musicians.

Apologies were given and received and both parties explored how they can work together towards resolving this issue.

Both agreed that the Abbey’s first concern continues to be the needs of the people who enter this holy place.

Both recognised the contribution street musicians make to the life of the city.

Both recognised the need for a workable system that allows street performance to flourish while respecting those who live and work in the city.

The meeting concluded warmly with a mutual determination to draw a line under the past and foster good relationships in the future.

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

14 Comments on "Harmony outside Bath Abbey?"

  • I’ve just consulted the ‘official’ Bath Buskers website administrated by longstanding Busking Advocate Jes Broun. He describes how during a recent Radio Bristol programme he felt morally compelled to make a formal apologe to Rev Mason on behalf of ‘responsible’ Buskers for the trouble occuring in the vicinity of the Abbey.

    Jes goes on to mention how how the cities established ‘self-regulatory’ busking code broke down due to, in his own words ‘ a bunch of totally self-interested Buskers ‘ taking over and bending the time-served rules to hog all the pitches and play as loud as they wished. ( I can empathise here, personally having come across this sort of ‘negative’ phenomenom elsewhere in places like Stratford upon Avon ).

    I believe that if places like Bath did not have a decent ‘preliminary’ busking map and a basic framework of identifiable ‘pitches’ in place, then the situation could easily have been worse and very easily descended into a form of busking chaos.

    Again as I comment elsewhere, the most effective way to prevent this kind of Juvenile ‘busking’ antic, trouble that you see repeated again and again with regards busking noise volume nuisance, is as expert psychologists will tell you, to have firmly in place a clear set of busking boundaries with regards ‘performance’ practice.

    Sometimes words are simply not enough, what is needed is ‘structure’ in the form of designated playing space, which in turn acts as a more reliable protection against what we know is the inevitable ‘destructive’ , selfish, irresponsible behaviour that will at some point beset the streets and public spaces of our towns and cities.

    In the interests of Street Performers everwhere, best wishes and peace to everyone concerned in Bath, may reason prevail and busking flourish in that most beautiful of English cities.

    • * On The Above/Below Apparantly ‘1-Way’ Conversation

      ” Intolerance is the hallmark of any rigid political worldview ”
      ( DJ Daryl Northrop )

      I see now that all others ‘comments’ have been removed by Streetslive.org on this page, leaving my remaining statements not only in isolation – but seemingly jumbled! . Well the ‘quote’ above represents all I’ve got to say on the matter. ( Oh that and ” where theres confusion theres the Devil! ”. )

  • If theres one lesson to be had here in the busking world of public playing spots and space its got to be – ‘respect each other!’ ( Of course in the rough and tumble universe of open democracy and debate these same rules don’t necessarily apply )

  • I prefer having equal chance to get up early and get to a spot first an then play my allotted 2 hours performance time ( if nobody is around I play longer, if someone turns up I pass on the space and find another spot ). This is the scheme found in Stratford upon Avon, a ‘first come first serve’, 2hr spot ‘rota’ system busking scheme.

    What I like about this particular approach is that it cuts out the busking ‘red tape’. No need to ‘meet up’ in the morning and draw straws so to speak. I wake up at 6am, excercise, shower, eat breakfast, practice a little technique, get out , catch the train, arrive in Stratford, get to my spot.

    Thats the way I like to begin the day i.e. in state, energised and clearly focused on the goals ahead. I tell you it works, Stratfords fairly unique like this, other Buskers will tell you, ask Jack Morgan for instance, I’m sure he will verify, you see its also a great way to get in ‘flow’ and make more than reasonable amount of money.

    • * Postscript

      If I compare the current situation in Stratford upon Avon with what I’ve long witnessed has been happening in Bath with regards their ‘current’ busking scheme all I see in Bath is really no more than a primitive form of ‘protectionism’.

      Check it out the for yourself. The truth is that Bath Street Performing Culture has for many years now been in reality a ‘closed’ system, clearly designed by nature of its scheme, to quite unfairly, keep ‘outsiders’ out, and the relatively small clique of buskers who frequent the city, I would call ‘narcissistic’ in-group, ‘in’.

      If I were to change anything about the status quo regards busking in Bath at the moment, it would first and foremost include constructing a scheme whereby all were welcome and each had a fair chance of access to spots and playing in the city without having to subject themselves first to a quite artificial selection process of ‘picking straws’ first thing, in the mid to latter parts of the morning!.

      Free and ‘natural’ justice is for me by far the most fairest moral perspective to bring to bear on setting up busking schemes, and that means either letting ‘natural’ laws of competition reign in the form of ‘first come first serve’ access to spots, or ‘co-operation’ in the form of ‘sharing spaces’ eg switching over spots at fixed time intervals as a seen in successful operation in places like Stratford upon Avon.

      Of course ‘protectionism’ ( in some forms and certain circumstances) does at times have a place in ‘real’ economics. However in this particular context, I argue that Bath, in what could be described as a ‘transformative’ stage regards busking in the city, could do well and far better in taking this opportunity to invent and introduce a far more open and balanced Busking Culture – and busking ‘scheme’ to match!.

      • * On The Above/Below Apparantly ‘1-Way’ Conversation

        ” Intolerance is the hallmark of any rigid political worldview ”
        ( DJ Daryl Northrop )

        I see now that all others ‘comments’ have been removed by Streetslive.org on this page, leaving my remaining statements not only in isolation – but seemingly jumbled! . Well the ‘quote’ above represents all I’ve got to say on the matter. ( Oh that and ” where theres confusion theres the Devil! ”. )

  • One important thing that Bath Buskers ought to acknowledge and perhaps more importantly get ‘active’ with, to have any real hope of survival in their present form ie. as a historic, relatively free and liberal cultural formation, is in ‘winning the hearts and minds’ of the local Public ( incl local shopkeepers and retailers! ).

    Very important given that Bath Council appear to be currently getting more actively involved in what they’re good at i.e. the ‘manufacture’ of consent. Check out Amelia Orgils ‘facebook’ fan page and the ‘link’ to the Public Space Protection Order ‘ Questionairre’ for Church Yard, Kingston Parade and Abbey Green, the local authority is dishing out to ‘interested’ parties in the community.

  • I’ve also taken a look at the YouTube Video ‘Bath Abbey Rector Preaches Hate Against Musicians’ by a Bath Resident.

    Whereas it does usefully provide some actual ‘witness’ testimony exposing the Rector of Bath Abbey as actually telling some ‘peekie boos’ on this whole issue, as a ‘solo’ guitarist myself I can’t help but make note of the pretty awful sounding classical guitar given a ‘high’ mix in the background of this ‘film’ piece.

    Whats this all about Bath Resident? Are you trying to say that its Classical Guitarists who are responsible for all the ‘noise’ nuisance in the town?.

  • * On The Above ( Post Editing! ) Apparantly ‘1-Way’ Conversation
    ( as i see now that all other ‘comments’ have been removed )

    ” Intolerance is the hallmark of any rigid political worldview ”
    ( DJ Daryl Northrop )

    • * On The Below ( Post Editing! ) Apparantly ‘1-Way
      Conversation ( as i see now that all other ‘comments’ have
      been removed, leaving this commentary column
      confused )

      ” Intolerance is the hallmark of any rigid political worldview ”
      ( DJ Daryl Northrop )

  • * On The Above/Below Apparantly ‘1-Way’ Conversation

    ” Intolerance is the hallmark of any rigid political worldview ”
    ( DJ Daryl Northrop )

    I see now that all others ‘comments’ have been removed by Streetslive.org on this page, leaving my remaining statements not only in isolation – but seemingly jumbled! . Well the ‘quote’ above represents all I’ve got to say on the matter. ( Oh that and ” where theres confusion theres the Devil! ”. )

  • * On The Above/Below Apparantly ‘1-Way’ Conversation

    ” Intolerance is the hallmark of any rigid political worldview ”
    ( DJ Daryl Northrop )

    I see now that all others ‘comments’ have been removed by Streetslive.org on this page, leaving my remaining statements not only in isolation – but seemingly jumbled! . Well the ‘quote’ above represents all I’ve got to say on the matter. ( Oh that and ” where theres confusion theres the Devil! ”. )

  • * On The Above/Below Apparantly ‘1-Way’ Conversation

    ” Intolerance is the hallmark of any rigid political worldview ”
    ( DJ Daryl Northrop )

    I see now that all others ‘comments’ have been removed by Streetslive.org on this page, leaving my remaining statements not only in isolation – but seemingly jumbled! . Well the ‘quote’ above represents all I’ve got to say on the matter. ( Oh that and ” where theres confusion theres the Devil! ”. )

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