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 

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