2020 Directors’ Report

2020 Directors’ Report

Keep Streets Live Campaign (KSL) is a small, performer-led campaign organisation which advocates for public spaces which are open to informal offerings of art and music and opposes the criminalisation of street culture. Much of KSL’s work in recent years has centred on challenging the misuse of Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) which are being used to criminalise a wide range of everyday activities. We are working alongside other groups like Liberty and the Manifesto Club to seek changes to this legislation. 

 

KSL grew out of a grassroots movement, and the not-for-profit company limited by guarantee was set up in December 2013 to support the work of the movement. Much of the day to day work of the company is undertaken in an unpaid capacity by professional buskers, supported by a board of volunteer Directors and a small number of other volunteers.

 

The pandemic dominated much of KSL’s work in 2020. During the year, we publicised the sections of the Coronavirus Act that supported the rights of buskers to continue working. KSL also published guidance for how to remain safe while busking, minimising the risk to both the performer and their audiences. Whenever we heard of councils harassing buskers who were performing safely and legally, we used this guidance as a way of explaining that buskers could continue to work.

 

Our meetings went online as opposed to in-person, while plans for workshops on busking open to all, similar to that which we ran in Manchester in 2019, were delayed on account of the restrictions in place. The same was true of a planned event to launch the successfully negotiated new guidance for Carlisle. We hope to move forward with more ‘live’ events as they become possible again.

 

A new page was set up on KSL social media, dedicated entirely to streaming videos of buskers performing online. Donations were encouraged, and this helped to increase the reach of KSL, as well as providing a vital platform for the buskers who got involved.

 

Other ongoing relationships continued:

  • Liverpool recently published new guidance for busking that avoided introducing any new legislation. KSL represented the interests of buskers throughout and played a key role in developing the guidance, which we feel is a victory for responsible busking.
  • The Westminster campaign picked up pace throughout 2020. Though ultimately unsuccessful in our goal of preventing the new licensing scheme, KSL have been instrumental in bringing together a coalition of street performers who have stood united against the proposals, and continue to fight the licence on the ground. The campaign received a good level of attention in the press, including stories in national publications such as Vice and the Telegraph, with involvement from celebrities such as Eddie Izzard.
  • Peterborough council removed the busking element to their PSPO after pressure from KSL and the local Green Party.
  • Chester Council remain actively engaged with KSL and are keen to put forward guidance that we are happy to put our name to.

 

KSL have also been involved with the ongoing organisation of concerts at Rainbow Junktion and Left Bank, both organisations with a strong sense of social consciousness and community, which fits nicely with the ethos of KSL.

 

Our focus in 2021 will be to continue advocating against the introduction of new legislation against buskers; resuming live events and workshops wherever possible; and campaigning against the increase in privately owned pseudo-public spaces as a way of preventing street performers from working.

 

Directors during 2020:

Weybourne Chester BINGLEY

Nicola Jane HAMBRIDGE

David Michael Simon GRAY

Rev John Howard WALKER

Sarah Michele WALKER

Eryl WHITELEY 

Westminster: Joint Statement

Westminster: Joint Statement

Joint Statement on Westminster City Council’s new proposals for the licensing of busking

 

We stand firmly against the proposals to criminalise unlicensed busking in the Westminster area, including Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Oxford Street and Trafalgar Square. 

 

We have attempted to engage with the council throughout the process and suggested proven, viable alternatives. It will have a devastating impact on the livelihoods of street entertainers in the area and their families if the proposed licensing scheme is introduced.

 

When people think of Covent Garden, they immediately think of the world-class levels of entertainment that are on offer in the form of street performers. When people think of the West End, they think of the amazing artistic and cultural scene that exists here. But these restrictions will make the West End essentially a “no-go zone” for buskers.

 

Anti-social busking benefits nobody, and we are not suggesting a free-for-all. But current legislation can easily be used against buskers causing a genuine nuisance. There are laws in place against amplification being used late at night, for example. The council claim a lack of resources and yet are setting aside over £200,000 over the next three years to implement a licence scheme that could be better spent on implementing the laws they’re currently ignoring.

 

During the worst crisis for the arts in living memory, we call on Westminster Council to scrap their plans for licensing and work with street performers to create a system that works for everyone. 

 

Signed by:

  • The Musicians’ Union
  • Equity
  • Keep Streets Live
  • Covent Garden Street Performers Association
  • Westminster Street Performer Association
  • The Busking Project

London: Concern at Christmas

London: Concern at Christmas

Buskers in London this Christmas are facing an uncertain future with continuing crackdowns on licences, closure of pitches, bans on amplification, and seizures of CD’s and equipment.

If proposed restrictions in Westminster go ahead there will be virtually no viable and publicly accessible locations for performers almost anywhere across central London, with an area from Hammersmith & Fulham across to Tower Hamlets and up to Camden effectively off-limits.

In an effort to combat this, Westminster Street Performer Association have held meetings to encourage more efficient self-regulation and show that it is the Council’s inaction and inability to deal with issues that is causing friction in popular busking locations such as Leicester and Trafalgar Squares. They can be contacted at LondonWSPA@gmail.com

Keep Streets Live has been looking a developing a City-wide strategy towards street performance, recognising that whatever happens in one place has a knock-on effect in others. Busking bans in Shepherds Bush for example several years ago pushed performers into Kensington causing over saturation and complaints, leading to similar bans in RBKC. We are now seeing many of those buskers pushed into the already busy pitches in the West End. Inevitably reducing available space increases pressure and conflict for both buskers and other stakeholders.

“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.”-Chester Bingley (Director)

Our petition against the busking bans in Kensington has now attracted around 2,000 signatures so please Sign Here