- My name is Jonny Walker. I am a Liverpool-born singer/songwriter, full-time street performer and the Founding Director of the not-for-profit Keep Streets Live Campaign. Our mission is to protect and promote public space as a legitimate forum for informal performances of art and music in the face of laws and policies that marginalise and criminalise the ancient tradition of street art and performance.
- What are we protecting? A spontaneous and vibrant street culture brings life to our towns and cities. It helps create urban community and a unique sense of place at a time when our high streets are all too often populated by the same chain stores and characterised by uniformity. Despite this, hundreds of local authorities across the UK have introduced heavy handed restrictions that discourage people from performing art and music on the streets and often result in town centres which are desolate and devoid of colour. We want to stop that happening, not only in Camden, but anywhere else in the UK!
- Our vision is to see towns and cities across the UK embrace grassroots street culture and to adopt policies that are supportive of informal performances of art and music. We want to help local authorities across the country to treat street entertainment as a fantastic opportunity to bring life and colour to our communities rather than as a problem that needs to be legislated against. Existing legislation against noise nuisance, obstruction and antisocial behaviour is more than adequate to deal with any problems that arise from busking.
- Whilst we will always be prepared to challenge policies and attitudes that undermine or threaten a vibrant and spontaneous street culture, we will always be willing to work alongside local authorities to help them create genuine opportunities for cooperation and working together for the good of everybody. We passionately believe in culture as a means to human flourishing!
- Last year in Liverpool, a city synonymous with live music, I helped lead a campaign against a license scheme similar to Camden’s which threatened street musicians with trespass prosecutions, banned under 18s from playing music and placed severe restrictions on the life of the streets. Our campaign was successful and the new law was overturned. We are now working with Liverpool Council and the Musician’s Union to draw together a fair and open ‘best practise guide’ for street performing that balances the needs of all the users who share public spaces. We aim to create a ‘best practise’ template for street culture which can easily be adapted to the needs and contexts of other towns and cities across the UK and beyond.
- In York we set up a petition calling on the Council to scrap a highly restrictive license schemeand to make the streets more open. Again, as a direct result of our campaign, York’s civic leaders made significant changes to their policy and invited musicians, street performers and other bodies to be part of an ongoing dialogue.
- In Camden we have set up a petition signed by over 6800 people and counting. We have engaged with local councillors to communicate the importance of a vibrant and spontaneous street culture. With one exception every Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Green Councillor voted against Camden’s new anti-busking law. We had well-attended ‘protest busks’ and created the ‘Citizen’s Kazoo Orchestra’ to highlight the absurdity of musician’s having their instruments seized by the council or the police.
- Our High Court challenge aims to overturn the unjust law that Camden have introduced. Once that has happened we hope that the Council will choose to work alongside us to introduce a new policy that works for the good of everyone!
Why We Need Your HelpWe are challenging a local authority with a budget of hundreds of millions and we are a tiny grassroots organisation. The court has recognised this and granted us a protective costs order of £7500 which is the maximum amount we will have to pay whatever the outcome of our case.Our first indiegogo campaign raised a headline figure of £7575 but that is not the final amount that we are able to hold in reserve for our legal challenge.Firstly, because our first campaign didn’t reach its initial target (Set at £25,000, before we were granted a protective cost order) indiegogo deduct 9% from our campaign fund as their fee which was £681.75.Secondly, we wanted to set up the Keep Streets Live Campaign as a not for profit organisation with a written constitution and defined mission to protect street culture. We employed Wrigley’s Solicitors in Leeds, specialist charity’s lawyers, to write our constitution and articles of association so that we would have a formal structure for the work we plan to do and this cost £600.
Thirdly, we had to pay for the making of two ‘pitch’ videos for the campaign, as well as the design, manufacture and postage of the perks (badges, post-cards, prints and t-shirts) that we are offering in return for donations. In addition, our some of our perks (Such as the fund-raising dinner) have underlying costs that we need to cover before putting the donation towards our fund. Taken together these campaign costs amount to approximately £1100 for the last campaign.
£7575 – £681.75 – £600 – £1100 = £5193 left
So we have a further £2307 in order to raise our target figure of £7500. That is why we have set up this second campaign. We have set the target figure at £2700 to reflect the fact that indiegogo will charge us 4% if we reach our target and 9% if we don’t, and to cover the future costs of producing perks to send out to people (or, in the case of the fund-raising dinner, to feed people!). We’ve got lots of great perks left over from the last campaign, and with new ones still to be announced are confident of hitting our new target!
If we win our case, the money raised will be used to resource our newly founded not for profit organisation as we seek to implement positive policies in other towns and cities across the UK and also to make a discretionary payment to our legal team who have been acting on our behalf on a conditional fee arrangement (no upfront cost).
If our case is unsuccessful at this stage we have the choice of appeal and have a court guarantee that our legal costs will not exceed £7500. Your contributions will safeguard us for this eventuality.
Other Ways You Can HelpWe have been delighted that over 300 people contributed to our last campaign. The support of people from across the world has been a source of tremendous encouragement…thank you!
We are a growing community of artists, performers, musicians and people who value public spaces that are open to the creative arts. Even if you are unable to contribute financially at this time, we would still love for you to get involved.
Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how!
Join with us as we seek to protect and preserve the ancient freedoms of the street and find creative ways to build urban community and to Keep Streets Live!
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