An outbreak of common sense..

An outbreak of common sense..

“…it was a handful of businesses trying to unfairly make things harder for buskers. They (Trafford Council Executive Committee) were of the view that if there is a problem busker, it should be dealt with reasonably and proportionately on a case by case basis and that in the main, the buskers are a welcome addition to the town who make it an enjoyable place to shop and socialise.”-Helen Grant. Strategic Manager:Crime and Antisocial Behaviour.

In March, thanks to local media, we became aware of a consultation on busking in Altrincham, to the south of Manchester. At first we were not aware of the exact nature of the proposals but they certainly included measures that would make busking in the town problematic and considerably reduce its viability as a destination for street performers. In particular a suggested ban on amplification and a time limit of an hour on any pitch stood out as pernicious, unworkable and unnecessary.

A public online consultation did take place, closing on 6th April, which a number of our supporters completed. However, as we know from experience, these are often loaded in favour of a particular outcome or simply ignored if the desired outcome is not produced.Keep Streets Live also made a submission as an organisation outlining the work we had done in York, Carlisle, Chester and others and suggesting we try and work out something similar as an alternative.

Fortunately we found a sympathetic ear in Helen Grant, who had been charged with overseeing the project. I was able to arrange a meeting on 18th May. It was a warm day and town was busy, so it was perfect for a bit of a busk and a wander round to get an idea of footfall, potential pitches, issues etc. We looked at various parts of the proposals and I was able to show how firstly they would deter decent buskers in the first place and secondly how they were not practical solutions to the ‘problems’ that the town was apparently experiencing.In many cases they would have forced buskers to use locations which were actually less suitable and more likely to cause disruption.

We were able to make some profound changes to the proposed code over the next couple of weeks to the point that KSL was happy to give our approval. Job well done so we thought..

However today I’ve received an email that the whole thing is to be scrapped as the Executive Committee feels the only ‘problem’ is the businesses that have been complaining and all that is needed is some common sense applied on a case by case basis.

#BeLikeTrafford

 

 

 

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 

Leeds City Council pay tribute to KSL founding director Jonny Walker

 

On Friday the 23rd of July 2021, on what would have been Jonny’s 41st Birthday, friends and family gathered together in one of his most popular busking spots in Leeds City Centre, the city where he lived to dedicate a memorial stone that has been placed in his honour by Leeds City Council.

It commemorates that spot as “Jonny’s Pitch” in recognition of the countless times he would set up and entertain the streets of Leeds; but more importantly, it underlines what a huge contribution Jonathan made to the city, its vibrancy and its musical heritage.

 

As a busy busker, Jonny played in over 50 British towns and cities every year, leading many of his fans in each location to adopt him as their local minstrel, known for live streaming his sets he also broadcast all over the world with fan bases as far as Australia, Brazil and Japan to name but a few.

Jonny was more than just a very good singer and guitar player. As he developed as a street performer he became a leading campaigner for the preservation of street culture in Britain, taking the fight to local councils over the rights of artists, musicians and entertainers to occupy public space and perform.

In 2012 in response to new proposals by Liverpool city council to control busking, he founded Keep Streets Live. Jonny faced similar battles with Camden council in London, launching a High Court challenge against a stringent set of rules on buskers, all of whom would henceforth require a licence.

During his deputation against the policy in Camden, Jonny said:

“Buskers act as civic lighthouses. We give directions. We break up fights. We call the police when we spot trouble. We talk to the lonely. We create moments of enjoyment between strangers, and contribute to the social and cultural enrichment of shared urban spaces. We are an integral part of the ecology of the street. We care deeply about the wellbeing of the places where we perform.”

 

 

Former deputy leader of Leeds City Council and friend of Jonny’s, Lucinda Yeadon opened the dedication event describing: “Jonny brought a whole family together with the work that he did, the love that he gave and the friendship that radiated from him. “Today is a celebration of Jonny. Those of you who knew him know that he was a devoted dad, a loyal friend and a loving brother and son.

“But he was also a passionate activist. We came up with the idea for a memorial stone at Jonny’s pitch so that everyone would know that this is Jonny’s pitch and will always be Jonny’s pitch. I see this as a symbol of everlasting friendship.  “So Jonny, here you go love. This is a brick for your lifehouse – and thank you for showing us the way.”

 

The ceremony featured music performances from Jonny’s friends and fellow buskers including Jake and Nick Keating, Anna Rusbatch, Alex Johnston-Seymour, and his brother Michael Walker. In addition, The Yorkshire Youth Choir then joined Michael who performed Jonny’s part in an emotional rendition of You Raise Me Up.

Director of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Sharon Watson MBE who concluded the event shared the following tribute:

“Jonny’s work has shown us how barriers can be broken down, how participation can be something for everyone.  “Jonny described busking as having a democratic access to spaces. The informality and spontaneity of the art form is what makes it special and significant.

“Don’t ever stop keeping our streets live. Let’s not be silent or still in our actions. Let’s be sure we can be heard and we can be seen.

“Art is the thread which I believe can change many lives and bring equality into a world which has lost so much. Thank you Jonny – thank you for your legacy, and thank you for caring about us.  Let’s continue Jonny’s legacy.

 

To us this stone represents a symbol of hope, a continuation of Jonny’s legacy, of his desire for our city centres to be places of creativity, spontaneity and interaction. We look forward to listening to many more acts performing at “Jonny’s Pitch” and we hope that Jonny’s message to “Keep Streets Live” will live on.

_____

With special thanks to:

Lucinda Yeadon, close friend of Jonny and former Deputy Leader of Leeds City Council.

Leeds City Council and especially James Lewis and Jonathan Pryor for authorising the stone.

To Chris Simpson who arranged the installation.

To M.A. Clarke and Son, Memorial Masons who generously donated the stone and to the wonderful artists and friends who contributed to the ceremony.

 

 

The work of KSL and legacy of Jonny continues with the support of our passionate team of directors who volunteer their time to continue this vital work.

To learn more about how you can support us contact us at contact@keepstreetslive.com.

Thank you.