Jonny Walker to Perform on York Streets this Easter Weekend
The York council agreed today to reconsider its rules on Street Performers busking on the city streets. The rules had come under fire from the Association of Street Artists and Performers and one of its founders Jonny Walker who is a well known busker in York. Gill Cooper who is the councils head of culture, heritagee and tourism was reported to have said today, “Our busking badge scheme was set up in consultation with local street entertainers and buskers, as well as the Safer York partnership and city centre businesses. As stewards of the city centre’s public spaces with a responsibility to represent the interests of all its users, we will be inviting interested parties to contribute to refresh the busking badge scheme guidelines to ensure buskers a platform and city centre users and businesses quality entertainment that adds to a vibrant location. “Following a very constructive meeting with Mr Walker, we are very pleased to have been able to reinstate his busking badge.”
The problem with the rules from the standpoint of the performers was that the fees for busking were cost prohibitive and made it very difficult for the buskers to make enough money to be able to perform. One of the most difficult fees was the charge for selling a CD while performing. As a protest , Mr Walker decided to offer his CD for a donation with no set price but asked anyone interested to give a donation instead. At that point the city decided to levy a fine which he refused to pay and told him that he could no longer offer the CD as a donation citing him for begging which is against the law. Mr Walker then submitted a formal protest and contested the fine continuing to perform and offer the CD for a donation. It was then that his busking badge was revoked. Undeterred he continued to busking in the days that followed and began with the help of ASAP to circulate a petition which was signed by over 2000 people.
Today his badge was reinstated with the councils promise to review the laws in the coming weeks. The current laws about busking were passed in 2005 and are in need of updating according to Gill Cooper and ASAP..
In a statement released today Jonny Walker said, “A whole lot of water has flowed under the bridge in York in the last two and a half weeks, almost as if the River Ouse itself had burst its banks. Yesterday the flood waters receded. I attended a meeting with York City Council. I was accompanied by Morris Stemp, Regional Organiser of the Musician’s Union and Neill Ryan, a well-loved musician who often busks in York. We sat around the table with a couple of officers from the Licensing Department and with Gill Cooper who is Head of Culture, Tourism and City Centre for York. As the founding director of ASAP! I want to see public spaces that are open to grassroots expressions of art and culture. We welcome any changes to policies that lift unnecessary restrictions and burdens on performers. We want to see the shared spaces of our towns and cities filled with spontaneity, and, dare I say it, with joy!
This is not a time for complacency however. Performers in many other towns and cities across the country face many unnecessary problems in pursuing their craft. ASAP! will continue the fight to keep streets alive with buskers, artists, poets and troubadours, to work with local authorities constructively wherever we can, but to not be afraid of challenging injustice.
Whoever you are, and whatever your gifts, we would love you to work with us in our dream to remove barriers for those who wish to take their art to the streets. There is no charge to join us, just follow this link:
Many thanks once again,
Founding Director of ASAP