#SaveLondonBuskers back to listing

As you may know, there are new laws currently under review by Westminster City Council which will provide many ways to curtail street performers in central London.

On Saturday 24 October at 11am, there will be a gathering in Covent Garden to protest against these new laws. Any performers who wish to be part of the event should arrive by 10:45 – and of course, obey social distancing and safety advice at all times.

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“Street performers, as I once was, have been playing on the streets of London for years. Westminster Council should think again and not do this” – Eddie Izzard

“These proposed new laws around street performance are needlessly wide-ranging and unnecessarily complex. Outdoor performers are part of the fabric of life in our capital city (and many others around the world) and we must preserve and celebrate this unique part of our heritage. The proposals would make the performers’ lives unmanageable and provide an unwanted precedent of overregulation for all manner of outdoor entertainment, festivals, and activities. There are other, clearer ways of working with the outdoor performing community and we hope that Westminster City Council will consider these properly”. – Angus MacKechnie, Executive Director, OutdoorArtsUK

“It is depressing to see Westminster Council going down the compulsory busking licensing route, especially when so many musicians’ livelihoods are under threat. Voluntary licensing backed by existing statutory nuisance powers has been successfully managed by many other towns and cities. Westminster should listen to and learn from the experience of Keep Streets Live” – Lord Clement-Jones

“This is the first time, to my knowledge, that performers will need to ask permission to busk in central London since Victorian times. In 1829 The Metropolitan Police Act was passed in order to limit the sound-making activities of people who plied their trade in the street, criminalising everything from bell ringing and sleigh riding to hawking and busking. Then, as now, these policies were classist attempts to clear the streets of people who weren’t considered respectable enough, or financially rewarding, for the landed class.” — Paul Watt, Musicologist specialising in the history of street performance.

“In my view, the ‘risk’ associated with most busking is so low that a blanket insurance requirement is overkill. If a busker needs it, why not dog-walkers, cyclists or skateboarders! This is just an exercise in cost-shifting onto the busker, and not a matter of public safety.” — Luke McNamara, a professor specialising in the laws and governance around street performance.

“The new proposals from Westminster would rip the heart out of the busking community, who have tried so hard to engage in positive negotiations. We cannot afford to let the council destroy this vital part of the West End’s culture” – David Fisher, Keep Streets Live

“The council are attempting to impose an unnecessary, overly restrictive licence that will put many of us out of business, and severely diminish the diversity of entertainments currently enjoyed by millions of visitors each year.” – Jim Woodcock, Covent Garden Street Performers Association