Keep Streets Live
Keep Streets Live Protest


“The history of street performance…is found in the laws that prohibit it” — Drawing a Circle in the Square


Since the discovery of public space, buskers have been roaming the Earth, hunting unsuspecting audiences everywhere. To save us from certain joy, tyrants and bureaucrats have been sagely putting up barriers to art, thereby defending our right to be bored wherever we go.

Beheadings, whipping, hanging, arrest, bankruptcy and the humiliation of forcing gifted performers to sing and dance in front of an adjudicating panel have all been historically employed in an effort to stem this sweeping barrage of fun.

Despite these restrictions, nomadic artists still leave uninvited smiles on the faces of children worldwide.



Not to worry; licensing officers are here to help. In major cities all over the world, these bureaucrats are thwarting buskers with harsher restrictions…like those recently passed in Camden.

Which brings me to the point of this article. Until now, Camden had been a cesspit of culture and spontaneity. Local residents could be entertained anywhere, at any time.

So, using the tried-and-contested “hammer and nut” philosophy, the Camden council has decided that artists should have to spend years perfecting their craft — and pay £47, apply in writing, and wait 20 working days for a council panel to decide whether they are a “fit and proper person” — if they want to busk in the borough.

Busking without a license is now a criminal offence punishable with a £1,000 fine and the confiscation of the artist’s instruments. If the fine is not repaid within 28 days, the council can sell the instruments in order to pay it.


Because of this, activist Jonny Walker has decided to take Camden Council to court. The new law is being put to judicial review, meaning that a judge will decide on Friday whether the council has acted fairly, or whether they’re a bunch of authoritarian reactionaries that need to review the meaning of “public good”.

Jonny is a career criminal busker. His wife and child have had to look on while he used his charm and talent to separate vulnerable, appreciative people from their hard-earned cash. Not content to stop there, he has also used a crowd funding tool to fund his legal case against Camden Council, convincing dozens more to dig deep and donate to the cause.

Jonny has raised £5,000 of the £7,500 needed to cover his legal costs. If he wins, Camden Council will have to review their blatant disregard for Article 10 of the Human Rights Act, and the Keep Streets Live campaign will have another notch under its belt.

If he loses, he’s going to have to pay a ton of money.


Most significantly — this is the most blunt legislation that any council in the UK has passed restricting street performance. If left to stand, there is nothing stopping other councils from following suit. THIS LAW HAS THE POTENTIAL TO AFFECT EVERY BUSKER IN THE UK.

Please, if you have any desire at all to see this law fail, click on the following link and give a little to the campaign. If you donate it will include all the benefits that normally come with being a fucking superstar.
(And sign the petition here).

Dig deep!