The Fighting Fund: Part Two

DONATE to our campaign here

This is a follow up to a campaign that recently finished on indiegogo which you can see at this link. We are aiming to cover all of our costs for a historic High Court Challenge against one of the most draconian anti-busking laws in modern UK history which has been introduced in Camden and sets a precedent for other towns and cities in the UK.  Although we believe that some policies, like Camden’s, are so restrictive they must be challenged in the courts, it is our preference wherever possible to work alongside local and national government to design policies that genuinely enhance the wellbeing of our towns and cities. This campaign will help to provide us with the resources to enable us to do this effectively.

 

  • 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!
What have we done so far?

 

  • 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 Help

    We 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 Help

    We 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 jonnywalker@me.com 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!

    Join our Facebook Group and follow our page

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/keepstreetslivecamden

    https://www.facebook.com/KeepStreetsLive

    http://keepstreetslive.com

Fundraising To Save Freedom Of Street Culture

Keep Streets Live has just launched a fundraising campaign via the platform IndyGoGo, with a rather splendid five minute video of what we are about and explaining the terrible situation we are fighting in a legal battle. Check out our campaigning fundraising page now.

This is the crux of what we are pitching…

Who and Why:

My name is Jonny Walker. I am a Liverpool-born singer/songwriter, musician, a full-time street performer and the Founding Director of ASAP (Association of Street Artists and Performers).  I have spent the last twelve years travelling the country as a wandering minstrel, playing music in the towns and cities of the UK and beyond. I have seen the power of informal, street-level performances of art and music to create a sense of colour, vibrancy and urban community at first-hand. I started the Keep Streets Live Campaign to protect and preserve informal community uses of public space, as it is now under threat.

Why We Need Your Help:

Sadly, in recent years, many local authorities across the UK have introduced highly-restrictive policies and laws that criminalise street performance and threaten the future of shared public spaces that are open to the arts and music. On November 11th this year, Labour-led Camden Council voted to bring in one of the most stifling street music laws in modern British history. Under this new law even singing in the streets for fun, if done without a license, is a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to £1000. Musicians face having their instruments confiscated on the street by the police, or council officials, who will have the power to sell them if the fine is not paid within 28 days.

Why This Matters:

This draconian new law will do great damage to Camden’s cultural and social well-being, it will scare and intimidate musicians away from the streets, and it will set an incredibly damaging precedent for towns and cities across the UK, if it goes unchallenged. It comes as a bitter blow at a time when many traditional venues for live music are closing down. The streets have become a vital and democratic forum for musicians to be heard, whether they are just starting out, gaining experience or actually making a living.

The Bigger Picture:

At the very time when our high streets need a helping hand to stay vital in the face of rapid social and economic changes which have seen record number of businesses close their doors forever, policies are being implemented that damage the communal lives of our towns and cities. Free street art and live music is one great way of keeping our high streets alive. It’s more important than ever before that local authorities channel their limited resources to support and sustain creative and grassroots communities in our urban centres, instead of heavy handed and misguided clampdowns. By supporting this landmark campaign you will be helping to protect the cultural freedoms of our towns and cities and giving us the resources to work alongside local authorities in the future.

What We Are Doing About This:

I started a petition, so far signed by over 6000 people, asking Camden Council to rethink their damaging plans. Our campaign arranged protest events which were supported by comedians Bill Bailey and Mark Thomas, and the musicians Billy Bragg and Jon Gomm amongst many others. We even set up the Citizen’s Kazoo Orchestra as a light-hearted rebellion against the irrational banning of wind instruments. I made presentations to the Cabinet, Licensing Committee and full Council. The Musician’s Union released a statement nationally asking Camden Council to preserve their musical heritage and to abandon their contentious policy. Despite this chorus of constructive opposition the Council passed this policy into law in a narrow vote in November. Our options were running out so we contacted a leading Human Rights law firm Leigh Day who told us that this new law was so unfair and over the top that we had a good chance of challenging it in the High Courts. The Human Rights Act protects freedom of expression and this applies to performances of music as well as to speech and the written word. We now had the basis for a historic legal challenge.

We have set up a not-for-profit organisation the Keep Streets Live Campaign andlaunched formal legal proceedings against Camden Council, asking a High Court judge to strike down this legislation and to send a powerful message to other local authorities: protect and nurture grassroots culture, don’t stamp it out!

Why Help?

I am a working musician with a young family. Running a campaign takes up a huge amount of time and I can’t do this alone. Camden Council have an in-house legal team and a budget of millions of pounds, whilst we are a very small and committed team of musicians and campaigners. We urgently need to raise funds. Our solicitors, Leigh Day believe in our case and are working on a conditional fee arrangement. In addition, we’ve applied for a Protective Costs Order asking our liability to be capped at £5,000. You can see my witness statement applying for this order at this link. However, if this is not granted and we don’t have the necessary funds, we would have to abandon this legal challenge and allow a huge injustice to stand uncorrected. We think this is too important an issue to walk away from.

How You Can Help:

We are seeking to raise £25,000 to cover potential legal costs and the costs of running this campaign over several months, in order to demonstrate to Camden Council that we can take this all the way. Any amount of money we raise up to and beyond that amount will demonstrate to the Judge hearing our case, and to Camden Council that we have the resources needed to see this challenge through.

People from across Great Britain have already volunteered their time and gifts so we can offer you fantastic perks for supporting us: from virtual cuddles, kazoos signed by celebrities, Skype concerts, Busking Masterclasses, House Concerts and campaign nights we have a range of exciting perks to offer you in exchange for donations towards our campaign as we seek to Keep Streets Live.

How Your Money Will Be Used:

In the event of a win in the courts where we are not liable for legal fees, or a situation where we are unable to continue with the legal challenge because we haven’t raised enough, all the money raised will be used to develop the newly founded not-for-profit organisation, the Keep Streets Live Campaign, with a specific mission to protect community and grassroots uses of shared public spaces nationally by working alongside other bodies and providing training and support programs. You can see the articles and mission of this organisation by following this link. This money would be vital in realising our vision for an advocacy body for grassroots street culture. We want to train street performers in first aid, create support networks between performers and the homeless, and design creative and fair policies for street performance that local authorities can implement quickly and at low cost. We want to be part of creating a national culture of collaboration and mutuality between local authorities and the grassroots which would make heavy handed laws like Camden’s a relic of the past. We want to turn the difficult situation we now face into an opportunity to make a positive change on the streets of the UK.

And, It Works!

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. Thank you to everyone who supported this campaign.

In York we set up a petition calling on the Council to scrap a highly restrictive license scheme and 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.

Join In:

We are a growing community of artists, performers, musicians and people who value public spaces that are open to the arts. Even if you are unable to contribute financially at this time, we would still love for you to get involved. From handing out leaflets, gathering signatures, playing the kazoo at protests, performing pop-up gigs and helping us send out perks, there are lots of ways in which you can get stuck in and we are very open to suggestions. Join the Association of Street Artists and Performers for free here: http://streetslive.org/join

In a nutshell…

This is a landmark legal challenge which will set a precedent for the use of public space in the United Kingdom. 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!

Join our Facebook Group and follow our page

https://www.facebook.com/groups/keepstreetslivecamden

https://www.facebook.com/KeepStreetsLive

http://keepstreetslive.com

Amanda Palmer Supports Camden Busking Petition

By Philippa Morgan Walker

Former street performer turned Dresden Dolls frontwoman and now solo artist, Amanda Palmer has shown her support for our barely-24-hours-old campaign via Twitter. To a million followers, she retweeted ASAP! Founding Director, Jonny Walker’s tweet calling for people to sign the new petition. The petition aims to collect signatures to support the KeepStreetsLive and ASAP! campaign against a draconian busking policy that Camden Council are threatening to rubber stamp.

Amanda responded to Mr Walker’s campaign directly:

“We are us RT @JonnyWMusic thank you for standing up for those of us who are still making a living on the streets. You are an inspiration…”

Mr Walker replied:

“@Amandapalmer when you are next in London we’d love you to participate in a mass, kazoo-led street protest against Camden’s new laws…”

Amanda is a key inspiration for the leading members of ASAP!, as a fellow agent in lending credibility to street performance and its many positive effects on the atmosphere of a neighbourhood. No-one quite sums up kick-ass artist extraordinaire, Amanda like TED Talks, who invited her to lead one of its famous conferences:

“The singer-songwriter-blogger-provocateur, known for pushing boundaries in both her art and her lifestyle, made international headlines this year when she raised nearly $1.2 million via Kickstarter (she’d asked for $100k) from nearly 25,000 fans who pre-ordered her new album, Theatre Is Evil.”

There’s something wonderful about artists and like-minded people uniting and saying ‘hang on a minute’ to the powers that be. Blocking culture from taking place on the streets is a dangerous sign of things to come, unless we take notice NOW, and engage with the policy making process, our high streets risk becoming clone-like and dull at best and lifeless corporate shells at worst. Let’s clear up a popular point of tension; if a busker is causing a genuine threat or nuisance on the streets then there are many existing laws to tackle such issues: like the Public Order Act, Environmental Protection Act and Highways Act, to name but a few. Ring-fencing a public space with an empire of law and ‘order’ is a direct assault on grassroots culture, artistic freedoms and a basic human right to ‘get up, ‘stand up’ (to borrow from Bob Marley).

The Camden Keep Streets Live campaign is going to be one tough battle and we’ll need to draw upon a lot of support. The streets belong to everybody and, yes, that includes human statues called ‘The Eight-Foot Bride’, clarinet players, penny whistlers and beat-box groups – not just powerful brand names or the usual retailers we see up and down the country. Cleaning up the streets should refer to bin collection etc, rather than the forced removal of musicians and artists from promising paving stones. Camden Council are gathering suits and clipboards, so we need to assemble a more colourful crowd…