POST-TUBE-LICENSING-SCHEME POSTER PUT OUT
BY MAYOR JOHNSON. PHOTOGRAPH APRIL 2009
POST-TUBE-LICENSING-SCHEME POSTER PUT OUT BY MAYOR JOHNSON.
PHOTOGRAPH APRIL 2009
The continual stream of disinformation already described, finally
exploded in the licensing schemes which were launched by various authorities at the turn of the century 1999/2000.
After Bongo Mike and Extremely Frank appeared at the Opposed Bill Committee hearing in Parliament in February 2000,
in which they spoke
against the Westminster Council
street buskers licensing scheme,
amendments were made by the committee, which made the scheme and the law too difficult to be used by Westminster;
the extra possibilities for input given to musicians when applying for a licence made it fairer to musicians and less
attractive to authoritarian control freaks.
After Bongo Mike and Extremely Frank appeared at the Opposed Bill Committee hearing in Parliament in February 2000, in which they spoke against the Westminster Council street buskers licensing scheme, amendments were made by the committee, which made the scheme and the law too difficult to be used by Westminster; the extra possibilities for input given to musicians when applying for a licence made it fairer to musicians and less attractive to authoritarian control freaks.
The draconian measures, such as seizing instruments, which Westminster Council had wanted to bring in,
were therefore not activated.
Instead, Westminster appeared to many musicians to behave in a gangster-like way against performers.
The stream of anti-busker invective which Bongo Mike and Extremely Frank witnessed when they opposed the scheme in Parliament was enough to demonstrate to anybody who was at the hearing that the licensing scheme proposal was never intended to help buskers. And the enormous amount of paperwork that Westminster presented to the committee on the actual day of the hearing was found in the course of a nine-month investigation by Bongo and Extremely to be almost totally lacking in any evidence whatsoever. The sole member of the public who was presented as evidence that a scheme was needed was a man from Kingston who had made a statement saying that he did not want to see the face of Kingston marred by buskers. The violent increased persecution of buskers by Westminster Council that took place since the non-implementation of their scheme fits in entirely with the busker-unfriendly nature of their scheme as it really was from the start.
CONTINUING DISINFORMATION BY LONDON TUBE COMPANY
The implementation on the tube of the Carling Beer licensing scheme for performers was shot full with contradictions and increased persecution from the very beginning. Musicians were encouraged to apply for licences by transport police officers who informed them that they would go on being nicked for busking many times a day unless they attended auditions for a licence. NO BUSKING signs remained in many locations right up close to LICENSED PITCHES.
In news broadcasts
London Underground used to say that they could not allow relatively quiet
acoustic performances by unlicensed buskers -
because LU announcements could be drowned out
by their music.
Furthermore the performers were forced to perform in front of advertisements for Carling Beer, which was an exploitation of the musicians. Logic suggests that it should have been the other way round - that the beer company should have paid the performers for advertising their beer. And yet it was to LU, not the musicians, that Carling Beer paid a massive sum of money for the scheme (there were rumours that it was as much as half a million sterling). Buskaction has been informed that the Carling buskers were stopped from speaking to the press, and this seems another infringement of the rights of performers as independent artists.
And then suddenly in January 2007 it became clear that Carling had pulled out of the scheme, which was now openly supported by Mayor Livingstone whose vindictive attitude to train performers and therefore Situation Art was well known by Buskaction.
Now the seizure of musical instruments began against unlicensed performers performing on trains. (This was an action that had been threatened against unlicensed musicians by the proposers of the Westminster licensing scheme for street performers - see previous column) One example is the case of Niall Murphy who had his guitar seized by a police officer, after being caught performing on a train, and the main evidence against him given in court by the police officer was that he didn't have a licence.
And then in a move strongly reminiscent of the pre-licensing scheme propaganda campaign
(see and listen TERROR IN THE STREETS bolded paragraph), LU started broadcasting a computer announcement
on their District and Victoria Line trains saying, "There are beggars and buskers operating on this train. Please do not encourage their
presence by supporting them."
These quick fix licensing schemes have changed absolutely nothing, both the Underground and some officers in the metropolitan police still equate busking (or Situation Art) with begging.
Also beginning during the Carling era, buskers who do not have licences have been charged with anti-social behaviour orders. ASBO'S are extremely serious. Violation of an ASBO can mean up to FIVE YEARS IMPRISONMENT. So Westminster Council and London Underground are similar in the extremity of their new persecution of buskers and situation artists.
There are numerous examples, two serious examples are Bernard Pierre and the so-called "coneman".
ASBO'D ON THE TUBE THEN DONE FOR BEGGING ON THE STREET
some years later whilst busking in the street
But aided by buskaction
TOO AUTHENTIC FOR STREET AND TUBE BOSSES
Buskaction even witnessed in October 2007 members of staff of the
underground hanging around Putney Bridge Station on the platform.
Along with the licensing scheme has gone a persecution-denial publicity offensive by London Underground, in which they now portray themselves, quite wrongly, as having fought to get busking legalized.
As already said, a licensing scheme is only one way and probably the worst way to solve the problem of the persecution of buskers.
But the bringing into the new bye-laws of the issue of "written permission" - an example of the creeping bureaucracy
that has been used to control buskers - makes any kind of liberalisation, other than by means of a licensing system,
One thing about Situation Art is that it's about being in
the wrong place at the right time - as explaned on the Situation Art page.
Those who performed on the tube system in London were the people who popularised the performance art on it. They performed with great bravery against continuing hostility from the management who instructed the staff to move them and to make announcements condemning them, and sometimes in the case of train performances, to tell passengers not to pay regardless of whether they were enjoying the performance or not.
After the scheme was brought in, some of those players who already had their own audience continued at some stations.
There is simply no justifiable reason why those with an audience should then have to audition, to join a scheme
for a type of performance that was solely popularised by the musicians themselves.
Where there were auditions there should have been CONSULTATION.
Where there was licensing there could have been the AMENDING OF LAWS AND BYE LAWS.
Instead of the growing persecution denial by LU, there should have been TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION.
The disinformation continues and is seemingly endless;
The licensing schemes have stolen ideas from Situation Art, and in doing so have actually further criminalised the spontaneous, itinerant, and often the most creative exponents of the Art.
Licensing musicians has an infamous history.
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