Street musicians… those hardy, often talented, ever-hopeful people that the tourist loves to see and consider an integral part of London - in days gone by you could see them line the streets of London, and hear them! But years’ of regulation upon regulation has silenced them, particularly the latest order in Camden Town for instruments to be silenced by the early hour of 9pm. But this could be about to change, thanks to London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, who is on a campaign to give buskers’ back their voice!
One of the principal reasons for the buskers’ silence is pressure from residents’; complaints about the noise, and more has taken its toll – where’s their sense of joviality, history, happiness and freedom? Whilst the borough of Camden was the last to bow to the pressure, even they have finally succumbed and issued paid licences, as well as banning wind and percussion instruments, and amplifiers, for the humble musician of the street. That said, Camden is still far less draconian than many London districts – don’t think that’s really a good thing, do you?
As Mayor Johnson launched his BackBusking campaign in support of London’s street musicians, he warned: “I fear some parts of the capital could become no-go areas for buskers.” He added: “Rather than shackling our musicians with unnecessary bureaucracy, we should treasure the spontaneity they bring to our high streets and town centres.”
Johnson’s latest campaign comes at a time when he also launched 2014’s ‘Gigs Busking Competition’. Last year’s competition brought 200 young British musicians together to compete in public place concerts for the prize of a licence to perform in London’s Underground train system.
The Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture, Munira Mirza, added: “Buskers still love coming to London but they’re finding it quite difficult to deal with the very different regulations.”
It is those regulations that are so restrictive; allotted 30 minute time limits, auditioning for spots in Covent Garden run by a property firm, instruments down by 9pm, no-go areas… come on Londoners! Feel the beat, release the spirit, embrace spontaneity and let the buskers’ entertain and share their music!