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.

For the evening we’ll be moving on to the tow path @ Meanwhile Gardens for workshops and entertainment, commencing at 6pm.

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 @ the experimental “Co-Mooring” site beneath the A40 flyover. – a boatload of buskers.

Tech For Artists. Apps and online platforms. The Rattle, Tobacco Dock, Shadwell. Thurs 29th Aug. 1pm. The Hat App/Gigride/Charlotte Campbell.

Workshops will be free (voluntary donations to Keep Streets Live welcome) and will include:

Self-Regulation. How busking communities work. Covent Garden SPA/Keep Streets Live/Galway Buskers Community.

New Approaches To Public Space. Community Gardens/London Festival of Architecture/Canal and River Trust.

We will be welcoming a number of talented local and travelling artists including Nathaniel JP Wills, Adam Blake, Jan Finch, Pandora’s Diary and Weybourne Chester Bingley. If anyone would like to play at our pre-launch Canal Cruise on Sun 25th August please apply here.

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


Buskers Oppose Kensington Busking Bans

Buskers Oppose Kensington Busking Bans

Buskers’ group Keep Streets Live, along with the Musicians’ Union and Equity – have lodged a formal objection to Kensington & Chelsea’s draft Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO).

The restrictions in iconic locations such as South Kensington’s ‘Museum District’, Portobello Road and outside Harrods will profoundly affect street performance in the borough, and in our professional opinion turn it into a ‘no-go’ zone for busking.

According to David Webster from the Musicians’ Union:

“The MU has grave concerns over the imposition of PSPO’s as proposed by Kensington and Chelsea. The livelihood of buskers is under threat – There is a workable solution provided for in the Busk in London scheme developed by The Mayor’s office and we urge RBK&C to engage with that.”

Tim Clement-Jones, a Lib Dem peer and prominent live music campaigner, said:

“PSPO’s are completely disproportionate as a way of dealing with public nuisance and they have the effect of criminalising perfectly legal busking which adds so much to the life of our towns and cities”

Chester Bingley, Director of Keep Streets Live who are organizing the campaign against the ban added:

“Home Office guidance is clear that these Orders should not be used to prevent reasonable busking and/or other forms of street entertainment.

Keep Streets Live have offered to discuss alternatives to this crackdown. We have worked with many Local Authorities across the country to introduce systems of guidance that are based on dialogue between buskers, businesses and residents, common sense and co-operation, whilst supporting robust enforcement action when necessary.

The proposed PSPO will not only cause hardship to those who make a living performing in the area, but will substantially reduce its appeal as a vibrant tourist destination. “

The groups are planning a number of days of action (including music, leafleting, and a petition) to highlight the contents of the PSPO, raise awareness of its impact, and persuade RBKC that the proposal is both undesirable and unworkable.

RBKC PSPO Consultation is open until 7th June.