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TOPIC: Restrictions and Regulations

Restrictions and Regulations 2 years 4 months ago #115

My name is Jonny Walker. I am a singer/songwriter and professional street performer.http://youtu.be/WIWH8qKlXIc. I have only played in Bath once before, but am impressed by the way in which a community of performers and artists has formed to help protect the ancient art of street performance. I have recently helped to start ASAP! (Association of Street Artists and Performers). We are a national body that exists to protect street artists and performers from excessive restrictions from local authorities on their right to practise their trade, whilst at the same time educating performers and artists on their responsibilities to other users of the shared city spaces where we work. We are working closely with the Musician's Union on establishing a national framework of 'best practise'. This has become a pressing matter because the city where I'm from, Liverpool, has just attempted to railroad through a draconian piece of busking policy which we have launched a campaign against (visit keepstreetslive.com). Astonishingly, Liverpool City Council pointed to Bath, and the Guild of Buskers to justify their piece of compulsory licencing, particularly around the issues of pre-booking slots, amplification and time limits.

From reading your literature you seem to regard some form of imposed licence scheme as inevitable. I disagree. High Streets and town centres need artists and performers more than they sometimes realise. At a time when High Street sales are falling and the wider economy is in crisis, street artists and performers give towns and cities a distinctive flavour and colour. Whilst we clearly need to show consideration for all other users of the shared city space, neither should we constantly have to feel that our livelihoods are under threat from the push of an official's pen or a councillor's whim. We need to all work together in a genuine way.

I have joined this forum because I wanted to make you aware that your Guild was being used as a propaganda vehicle by elements in other CIty Councils that want to relegate Street Culture to the margins of city life. I'd also be very interested in talking to established artists and performers, particularly ones with positive experiences of liaising with councils and other authorities, on whether they'd be interested in contributing to a national body representing the interests of we street artists and performers.

Anybody wishing to contact me personally can do so by writing to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Respectfully yours,

Jonny Walker
www.facebook.com/JonnySongs
www.jonnywalker.co.uk
keepstreetslive.com
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Re: Restrictions and Regulations 2 years 4 months ago #116

  • Anonymous
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With regards to busking in Bath the local council has exercised a very liberal policy over the years (compared to many other tourist destinations where it is either banned or highly regulated) and they officially state that street entertaining adds to the tourist experience. The recent Bath Buskers Guide which I personally designed consulting with a few responsible local buskers is based 99% on the traditional Buskers Code of Practice and adding a couple of really good extra pitches to ease congestion and where new cafes are springing up. It was a new partnership with city centre stakeholders to break the 'them and us' attitude which sadly still persists. Concessions were offered by our local council to allow amplification and a handful of us representing bath buskers agreed with the officials over numerous unpaid meetings and email exchanges that any CDs would be sold very discreetly. Both amplification and CD selling has been blatantly abused by a few and buskers can run around with fancy ideas about their political rights when they might stop to consider that with rights come comes responsibilities and we actually have enjoyed a fantastic freedom here. I can see little evidence of consideration towards local shopkeepers and other businesses some of whom have stated they lose trade and their staff are driven mad by excessive noise and constantly repeated repertoires by a few buskers. As a result there has been a petition of shopkeepers banning busking in Union Street. Thats not the council that is rate paying businesses. I repeat, it is all clearly stated on the leaflet. If buskers continue in the mindset of 'me,me,me' and also 'them and us' I personally feel no progress will be made, and we did actually make progress with the authorities but we have collectively blown it. The council was perfectly happy to allow us to 'regulate' ourselves and I tried in the leaflet to make it primarily simple and busker friendly to foster a sense of community amongst buskers and less blatant selfishness. Community does not mean cliqueyness but welcome outside performers as long as they stick to the rules. We had a perfect opportunity that took two years to achieve and a building partnership with the local council who i repeat have allowed us a freedom as they have many laws to ban us if we step too far . The new leaflet was ignored by many and now the Council is taking the initiative away from buskers and unless buskers keep the anti social issue of noise don't be surprised if a lot of assumed rights are also taken away. According to my information and meetings with 'the enemy' as one local busker told me, amplifiers are to be banned on the revised leaflet and also the selling of CDs and I am not going to get into cynical politics here about games council's may play because that is not the issue. The issue is noise and reasonable co-existence. Bath itself is an acoustic bowl and all buskers need do is ask another busker 'Am I too loud'? Is that rocket science? I have done all I can to make the party swing!
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Re: Restrictions and Regulations 2 years 4 months ago #117

  • Anonymous
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I forgot to add my name to the last posting and just to briefly answer your point about the Bath Guild of Buskers 'being used for propaganda by other councils', there was an attempt to resurrect the dormant Guild (at a buskers meeting where I was voted vice chairman) but it just evaporated so a few of us then took the initiative to act reasonably as individuals to remind our community of the existing protocol but suffice to say our own Buskers Code of Practice from which the more recent Bath Buskers Guide was originally a collaboration between Bath City Council and the Bath Guild of Buskers as I understand it. I can only repeat that I don't believe musicians in Bath have suffered the restrictions you mention but no doubt these postings will prompt a range of contradicting opinions! Such is the richness of busking! Jez Broun
www.acousticfusion.co.uk
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Re: Restrictions and Regulations 2 years 3 months ago #118

  • Ukulele Nipper
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Jonny, the restrictions in Liverpool are awful, hope your campaign is a success!

Hi Jez, I busked in Bath twice last year once with amp (and band) and once solo acoustic (with a National Steel uke) and had a great time. Comments from shop keepers and the public were good both times. However I did notice that both times there were teenagers with electric guitars and very loud amps sitting on the street and playing. I can see why there is a ban on amps with that sort of thing going on. (Am I right to think amps are now banned?). I don't think this should be a problem for most performers, look at the New Orleans buskers, they don't have amps and judging by the You Tube they are doing alright.

BTW I checked out you website... some great music... loved the Gypsy Jazz video. I play 1920's/30's jazz and would love to jam some time.

Best
Ukulele Nipper
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Re: Restrictions and Regulations 2 years 3 months ago #119

  • Ukulele Nipper
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Hello again...

Just thought I would add that I had a fine day busking on 26th July, with no amp and no CDs for sale. There were lots of other buskers out and apart from a violin/cello duo ALL HAD AMPS and many were selling Cds quite openly. Most had amps at a modest level but some were very loud. A man from the council came round and was not bothered by the amps.

Best Nipper
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Re: Restrictions and Regulations 2 years 3 months ago #120

  • Anonymous
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Hello Ukele Nipper

Thanks for your kind comments about my music! I always regard the street as my practice room as the international audience is always so forgiving! Am always up for a jam at any time so if you see me please waive your ukele at me.
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