World Street Culture Under Attack from Lazy Government

What is the state of the art of Street Culture? Just when it was looking like street artists and buskers were enjoying an upsurge of public support and interest around the world it now becomes clear that the same issues successfully being resolved in cities such as London, York, Somerville, Kuala Lumpur and elsewhere are being inflamed by apparently repressive minded governments in places long thought of as street culture havens such as San Francisco, New York and Dublin.

One of the large issues that both sides are reluctant to debate but which lies at the heart of the street culture movement is quality of craft and where the best performers should perform. To address this issue bureaucrats have begun to mandate auditions for politicians.

Today a Vancouver publication ran an  editorial.  It is in The Province; “Governments should quit hassling buskers” In the piece the author asks what business is it of the government judging talent contest and deciding who can perform on their streets and who cannot. By the way, whose streets are these anyway? We agree in part with The Province that a way needs to be found for the free market of ideas should decide what people want to experience on their streets. For more insight on the Vancouver and Granville Island debacle taking place in READ The Tyee.

Dublin today is deciding on whether to adopt new rules and abandon the voluntary code of conduct currently in force.

  • Artists cannot use flames or objects such as knives, swords or axes
  • Performances must take place within 10 feet of the outer edge of a building
  • Musicians cannot use amps that are more than 15 watts
  • Drums are prohibited
  • No street performances allowed between 11pm and 11am, with the exception of Temple Bar and Grafton St where performances can continue until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays
  •  Punishments include a fine of €75 which can rise to €1,500 if not paid on time

It is now about 7pm in Dublin the laws as stated here will kill areas of good busking in Dublin, and impose a more artificially manipulated less vital culture.

St Louis is also about to enact a similar set of unworkable and lazy laws for the convenience of bureaucrats and the inconvenience of the people.

#Buskival May 25 and 26 #York Township #UK

 #Street Musicians, #buskers and street performers of all kinds will converge on the city of York this year for the second annual Buskival there.

The data entry on reversing the draconian street performing laws in York have not even been backup yet and the York Buskival is getting ready for the May event. Thanks to the efforts of Jonny Walker and the good citizens of York along with the brighter elements of the York Council the punishingly expensive fees for permits to perform and the extra charge for selling a CD in certain areas were re-written.

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But now that is all behind and this years festival is expected to be better than last years. Even the hours have been extended till 7pm on Saturday. We assume that since Buskival is announcing that many of the favorite York buskers will be performing, that Jonny will be there. If you are there you can vote for your favorite busker. A £150 prize will be awarded to the favorite of the day. Other prizes will be announced soon. All performers need to have their valid York busking badge to participate.

Homeware company HomeSense, on Foss Islands Road, will again sponsor the event.So be sure to check out their web site if you want to grab a corkscrew or maybe a thermos on your way to Buskival.

Store manager Richard Andrews said: “We’re very excited to be part of Buskival again to celebrate the unique, diverse and entertaining musical talent in our community.”

Another great feature of Buskival, will be the workshops for anyone interested in leaning some now skills to match their talent. Performers will teach and the public will have an opportunity to improve their natural skills.

For more information check out, or Buskival Facebook page or from @York_Festivals on twitter.




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!

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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,

Jonny Walker

Founding Director of ASAP



For Street Performer Rights in York

Well known and talented busker Jonny Walker is protesting the confiscatory rates charged for any street performer that sells a CD on the streets of York. The City government is either very greedy or is trying to discourage talented performers from entertaining on the streets there as they charge 40 pounds British or $60 US per day for a selling permit.

Mr. Walker has set up an organization to help Street Performers in Britain called Association of Street Artists and Performers (ASAP). He is quoted in ITV as saying, “ASAP has been set up because across 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.”

As a protest to the outrageous permit fee for selling, Jonny Walker offered his CD’s to the public for a donation while giving one of his daily performances. The authorities in return confiscated his permit and accused him of begging, which is government speak for, We rule you and will get your money or make it impossible for you to live decently.

Check out this great video by TheunsignedtvTheunsignedtv of a performance he gave with two other buskers recently.