Thank you London!!

Thank you London!!

After an amazing 3-day Buskers’ Pow-Wow on the canal we’d like to extend a massive thank you to everyone who attended, but especially Eric Ellman of Bards on Boats and the Union Tavern for hosting us. A big hand too for Sam Jordan from the Musicians’ Union who joined us for the Know Your Rights workshop, and Julia Gregory (Local Democracy Reporter) who joined us on Tuesday afternoon and wrote this article.

We set out to protest the Kensington & Chelsea busking bans but I feel here we now have the bones of a London-wide grassroots performers group, which will be able to take a more co-ordinated and holistic approach to busking across the capital rather than seeing pitches and issues in isolation. If this is something which you’d like to be part of please check out the Keep Streets Live in London Facebook group.

As you’ve all been so awesome we’d love to help you out so we’ve added a few of your tracks to our Spotify playlist and if you’ve got any photos/video from the event use the hashtags #KeepStreetsLive #SayNo2PSPO and #BuskersPowWow to make sure we can find them to like/share etc. Alternatively you can send by email to contact@keepstreetslive.com

We’re currently looking at the possibility of another canal-based London event later in the year, and certainly another full day of busking workshops in Manchester in early-November. If you’d like us to do something in your local area please let us know.

If you missed our workshops or would like to re-cap you can find the livestreams here:

Know Your Rights. Tech For Artists part 1. Tech For Artists part 2.

David Fisher being interviewed outside Harrods.
Tech For Artists workshop with GigRide, The Hat App and Charlotte Campbell.

Lauren Collins– Fresh on the London busking scene from New Zealand.
Cap’n Eric
Acoustic punk from the Leyton Cat Lady.
Hobo WorldFolk from Pandoras Diary– Sara and Maya
Busking debut for Street Music researcher Lizzie Bennett.
Melissa Otero treating us to some Latin grooves.
A special medal for street magician Nathan Earl for making all 3 days!
South London troubadour Patti Paige.
Know Your Rights!! Workshop with Keep Streets Live and the Musicians’ Union

Buskers Launch Performers’ Association

“Busking, public performance for the entertainment and spare coins of passers-by, “may be the world’s second oldest profession,” muses David Fisher, a recording artist, busker and spokesperson for Keep Streets Live, an organisation which protects Britains’s rich legacy of spontaneous open air music and art.

An emerging cashless economy, however, and Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs), such as the one passed last month by the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea which bans or restricts busking over much of Portobello Road and other prime busking locations, threaten a tradition that is documented as far back as Roman times.

Against this backdrop, Keep Streets Live is organising a 3-day street performers’ pow-wow, August 27-29, designed by and for artists, and open to the general public.” -Eric Ellman of Bards on Boats.

Day 1 we’ll be opening the event at midday outside South Kensington tube with a protest busk to raise awareness of the issues. We have a diverse range of performers for you to enjoy including magic from Nathan Earl.

Around 3pm we’ll be moving on to the Union Tavern for our first Buskers’ PowWow which will be a mixture of discussions and entertainment featuring street performers from Kensington & Chelsea, Westminster and further afield.

Day 2 @ the Union Tavern – talk show format with panel discussions and performances.

Know Your Rights. Legal advice, campaigning and civil disobedience. Union Tavern, Westbourne Park. Weds 28th Aug. 3pm. Liberty/KeepStreets Live/Musicians Union.

Followed by ‘sultry, swinging world folk’ from Pandora’s Diary at 4.30pm, and punk covers courtesy of the Leyton Cat Lady at 6pm.

‘Chester’ live at Ophelia’s. Weds 28th Aug. 8.30-10.30pm. At Ophelia’s Cocktail Lounge. Nearest Tube Barbican. Indie/Folk/Americana. Door money to Keep Streets Live.

Day 3 Tech For Artists. Apps and online platforms. Holden House, 57 Rathbone Place , Tottenham Court Road tube. Thurs 29th Aug. 1pm. The Hat App/Gigride/Charlotte Campbell.

Workshops will be free (voluntary donations to Keep Streets Live welcome).

Thanks to Portobello Brewing Company for providing refreshments on our pre-launch Canal Cruise on Sun 25th August, Dave Holmes and James Dylan Thomson for their music, and James and Esther for sign making!

The Molly Anna- our event HQ moored outside the Union Tavern

We are currently looking for more people to be involved in this project in any capacity; musicians, speakers, community groups, art lovers. In fact anyone who has an interest in protecting access to our public spaces, and ensuring they retain their vibrancy. Please email contact@keepstreetslive.com

Kensington & Chelsea is a divided borough with a rich cultural heritage that is increasingly under threat. When beautiful moments like the one at the top of this post are designated as ‘antisocial and criminal’ we have to stand up and be counted. The Council should be supporting and encouraging their buskers rather than marginalising them and pushing them out. In these times of austerity they should be grateful for what we add to the borough. At no cost to the authorities or taxpayer we provide quality art that is accessible to all regardless of income or circumstance.

#SayNo2PSPO and #KeepStreetsLive


“Messing about on boats.”

“Messing about on boats.”

July 20th is International Busking Day, celebrating artistic performance in public spaces. 

Whilst some London Councils are defining busking as “antisocial behaviour,” to be restricted with new licensing and conditions, other groups and individuals are innovating to continue a tradition that adds colour and opportunity to everyone’s life. 

The Hat, a new app which allows buskers to receive tips digitally, has partnered with the campaign group Keep Streets Live to bring busking to the Grand Union Canal. 

From July 20th until August 1st, buskers will perform on board the 58’ wide beam canal boat, Molly Anna, which is participating in a London Festival of Architecture installation demonstrating alternative visions for developing the towpath beneath the A40 flyover near Westbourne Park. 

The boat will be in two locations on those days, allowing buskers to perform from noon until 5 p.m. for crowds gathered at the LFA “co-mooring” site beneath the flyover, as well as adjacent the patio of the Union Tavern on Woodfield Road, 200 meters away.

Performers will be paid a small fee using The Hat app and will also be able to collect tips from their audience. Musicians, dancers, and other artists are invited to call 07500 753673 to reserve a slot or email contact@thehatapp.com

Dates and times will be posted as and when finalised, but so far artists confirmed include talented guitarist Alexander Kyd who has already recently performed on the boat and is looking forward to returning.

Sat 20th July. Julian Rosso. 5pm.

Mon 22nd July. David Fisher. 6pm.

Fri 26th July. Martin Ash. 5pm.

Mon 29th July. Lea Barrufatto. 1pm.

Wed 31st July. Weybourne Chester Bingley. 1pm.