Buskaction” is an inspired litany against the political situation enjoyed by buskers around the world. Started by Bongo Mike and Extremely Frank in response to the criminalisation of busking on the London Underground, in the 90s. It’s a goldmine of phrases, like “ethnic cleansing of street art”, “Buskers have been traditionally hunted and persecuted”, and “extra layer of bureaucracy between the artist and the light”. I got this response to an email:

We should like to explain that although penniless we frequently go to court and represent buskers who are in big trouble with the police.

It’s hard work and you get nothing for it, representing equally penniless and sometimes even homeless buskers trying to live from their music – half the time you feel you’re not even getting any gratitude for all the work that you do.

We are not trained lawyers but we trained ourselves fighting our own cases, and then realised that we could help others as well. British law is based on precedent, so that is possible, it’s just a question of studying up previous cases which make the law here

So, from their website:

Traditionally, busking was an accepted part of the culture of many countries. It was generally illegal, but there was normally a gentleman’s agreement (if you can call it that) between the artists and the police that prosecutions wouldn’t be that frequent or that painful. (We can’t talk about the situation before the existence of police forces; we’re not writing a history of the traditional culture, but analysing the meeting point between a traditional culture and a new one.) So there was a certain social tension, adding a poignancy which the old artist could incorporate into his act, and which in fact many traditional buskers saw as essential to the effectiveness of their art.

Now,in amongst the massive cultural upheavals of the post-war period was born a new type of artist – the situation artist – who was to grow up in the shadow of the traditional busking fraternity, but was eventually to come into conflict with them. He learned certain aspects of his trade from the traditional buskers, but came to use it as a vehicle for an entirely different spirit from that of the traditional folk-hero. This new spirit relates to the oriental idea of freedom from the opposites, it entails a freedom from the parcelling up by men and women of their environment along rigid lines of distinction The Situation Artist among other things bridges a gap between high culture and low culture.