I politely refused at which point she called the licensing department who accused me of street trading. I said that the CDs were not for sale, they are an extension of my busking act, any contribution is voluntary. At this point the man said, ‘Take away his busking permit’.
I was told to turn off my microphone or that the police would be called. I said
that I was doing nothing unlawful and was not prepared to stop playing. At this point the police were called.
There I was with two council officials, two licensing officials and two police officers. I don’t know whether they enjoyed my version of Hallelujah, but the Licensing Enforcement officer gave me a caution, read me my rights, took a photo of my sign and took two copies of my cd. The lady from the council walked away and told me she would be speaking to her boss to see whether I would have my permit revoked for the insubordination.
I was left in peace to carry on singing…but for how long?
The Association of Street Artists and Performers has been set up because accross the country local authorities are getting heavy handed with people who want nothing more then to perform their art on the streets. Public space belongs to all of us, and the High Streets, under pressure from Internet shopping, out of town developments, high rents and the dire economic situation need to be full of life and music to keep people’s spirits up. Street performance gives a place a sense of community and well-being, and is one of the many reasons people still have for actually physically going to a place.
So instead of sending 6 public servants to try to intimidate a street musician, why doesn’t the local authority work with the street artists and performers to build a sense of community, and public places that everybody can feel part of. The campaign to Keep Streets Live is only just beginning! Whether you are a street performer yourself, would like to be, or just value art at street culture level, join us on this journey….
Please feel free to share this with other people. The time has come for the streets to be acknowledged as the vitally important spaces that they are, both for music, the arts and for a greater sense of community…