In the face of new laws and controls on what you can and can’t do on public streets, and the draconian ‘busking licence’ scheme being introduced in Camden next month, I’ve just finished a crowd-funding campaign video for the ‘Keep Streets Live’ Campaign.
Camden Labour council have introduced a new law which from Feb 1st 2014 will make music performance on the street illegal without a council licence. Licences have to be applied for, by supplying full ID details, several days and even weeks ahead of time, and a range of fees are payable. If you sing or play an instrument in Camden streets without a licence, you will be liable to a £1000 fine, and any instruments may be seized and sold by the council if you haven’t paid up in 28 days.
Jonny Walker, founder of ASAP, the Association of Street Artists and Performers, has campaigned against this law from the outset, attending council meetings, collecting more than 6000 signatures in a petition, trying to engage with residents, police, and law-makers, and taking part in every stage of the consultation. He also gained support from musical and comedy celebrities including Billy Bragg, Bill Bailey, Mark Thomas, Jon Gomm, and others.
However, despite strong opposition from Lib-Dem, Conservative, and Green councillors, and a deputation from the Musicians’ Union, this draconian bill was voted through by the Labour majority.
So now, Jonny has secured the services of leading human rights lawyers, Leigh Day, who are challenging the law in court. If that fails, there will be a campaign on the streets to undermine the law, make it unworkable, and embarrass the council.
Seeing that this legislation has national implications way beyond Camden, as part of the ever-increasing privatisation of the public realm, Jonny has set up the ‘Keep Streets Live’ Campaign, and is seeking crowd-sourced funding to seek support.
This 3 minute film hears from a range of voices, and calls out for donations via the crowd-funding site ‘Indiegogo’.
Within hours of posting the film, I’ve been sent two related links – film of a London busker being moved on by police, and a news report of a Welsh busker being banned from Cardiff under threat of a £5000 fine.
As more and more restrictions and controls strangle any remaining freedoms in public places, and as new developments turn previously public land into pseudo-private areas with rules strictly governing behaviour, anyone not there to spend money is made unwelcome in our city streets, so it’s no wonder the ‘high street’ is dying when it has little or nothing more to offer than on-line or out-of-town shopping
Donate to the campaign at http://indiegogo.com/projects/keep-streets-live-campaign
See film of the great Camden Celebrity Busk at https://indyrikki.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/video-of-camden-celebrity-busk-against-proposed-licensing-and-instrument-seizures/