Mudcat Café message #900956 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #54636   Message #900956
Posted By: ET
01-Mar-03 - 04:11 AM
Thread Name: Sign a E Petition to 10 Downing St PELs
Subject: RE: Sign a E Petition to 10 Downing St PELs
I have received information from a civil servant in DCMS that busking does not need a licence but a buskers festival does and the organisers could be finded or imprisoned for doing so without a licence. I have sent this e-mail and will copy you in on any reply !


I am grateful for what you say but I find all this rather depressing to say the least.

I know this is current Government Policy and you might not be able to change much but can I put what you say into a real live context.

I live in a Northern City with a Ferry Terminus to Holland. Its not exactly the cultural centre of anywhere but the City Council do put on a two week annual festival and it does liven up the place and attracts tourists.

Each year for the past 10 years I, with dozens of others, have helped organise bits of this. My part has been to provide a music day, theamed differently each year - sometimes celtic, sometimes English, sometimes folk etc. I do this because I have many musicians friends and I play in it but I am the organiser. I claim a small grant from festival funds to pay the expenses of the musicians but not myself.

We usually play either in churches to an audience of about 20 (no problem now or in the future) but more often in the City Square. 000's of people pass through, some stop for a few minutes and the audience in front of the musicians can range from 10 to 50. The music is all acoustic and so probably carries for about 25 yards (we do not play Japanese Drums and I don't know anyone that does!).

So far so good but from next year either the City Council or myself will need a licence. If I apply for an "occasional event licence" I get a form from the council, send it to them with 20. They pay this into their system and I claim it back as a festival expense and they generate a cheque back to me for 20. I get an acknowledgement of the "light touch" notice and carry on exactly as I have done for the last 10 years. I don't know, and doubt if council officials could say, if my audience exceeds 499 - how far out do I count them-how do I get them to stand still to count - how can I refuse them entrance to the City Square if there were already 499 people there?   That apart I don't put up a notice saying in the event of fire ,exit using one of ten streets of the City Square. The square is paved with paving slabs and unlikely to catch fire because of a couple of fiddle players and a mandolin player.

I am trying not to sound facetious but this is a real situation. I am doing a little to brighten up the City and to attract tourists and money. If I don't get this licence I could be fined 20,000 or serve six months. If I do get the licence it makes no difference whatsoever otherwise then to involve a whole lot of extra paperwork and a money go round.   What I will probably do is not bother. Maybe that will make not a jot of difference but I think there may be people up and down the country in the same boat and a lot of life and colour will have disappeared, I think for no good purpose.

As I started I dare say you are driven by political imperatives but I would be grateful if the things I have spoken off could be brought to the attention of those who are driving this?