A NEW guide is being produced to help promote better relations between buskers in Liverpool city centre and local businesses.
The Guide to Busking in Liverpool has been produced as a joint initiative by the city council, the Musicians’ Union (MU), the Keep Streets Live Campaign and the Business Improvement District (BID) and it is thought to be the first of its type in the country.
The 12 page best practice guide advises buskers, council officers, businesses and residents on issues such as pitch selection, noise levels and the best way of resolving issues. A laminated advice card is also being produced which highlights guidance and recommendations.
It is anticipated that that the guidance will help reduce the number of complaints and lead to those which continue being resolved amicably. It also sets out the procedures for enforcement should this prove necessary.
This move represents a new approach to street entertainment in Liverpool. In 2012 a managed system of buskers with licensed pitches was to be introduced but was opposed by buskers and the MU and the idea was dropped.
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said; “It represents an entirely new approach to busking in Liverpool, a city which is famous for its culture and music. By working together with the busking community we will bring our streets alive for the benefit of everyone.”
“I think visitors to the city would be surprised and disappointed if they didn’t find a lively street music culture, given the city’s reputation,” said Councillor Steve Munby, cabinet member for neighbourhoods. “But we also know there are complaints from business and visitors about noise and obstructions so we have tried to balance the needs of all parties.
“I don’t mind making mistakes as long as we learn from them. We recognised that an imposed solution was never going to work so we have brought together a range of organisations to produce this guide. This has been a unique partnership which bodes well for the future of street entertainment. I’m really grateful to everyone who’s been involved.
“The guide sets out a positive way forward and if everybody follows the guidance in it we can have a thriving street culture based on good relationships.”
Jonny Walker, Founding director of the Keep Streets Live Campaign said: “The collaborative approach that Liverpool City Council have modelled in putting together this busking guidance makes it a pioneer amongst major cities worldwide in its active support for grassroots street culture.
“The busking community has had the unique opportunity of working alongside the local authority, the BID and the Musicians’ Union to preserve the spontaneity and informality which is intrinsic to the nature of busking, whilst actively seeking to build good relationships between all those who share public space in the city. It is right that buskers should be closely involved in decisions that affect them and it is to Liverpool City Council’s immense credit that they chose to include the busking community at all stages in the production of this guidance.”
“The busking community will continue to cooperate with the local authority to ensure the ongoing success of this new approach, and will hold a regular open buskers’ meeting which all are welcome to attend. We are confident that this guidance will help to harness the capacity of busking to transform the experience of shared public spaces in the city, and to continue to play its part in what makes Liverpool such a wonderful place to live, work and visit.”
Morris Stemp, North of England Regional Organiser for the Musicians’ Union, said: “This is a real achievement for all parties concerned, and I’d like to congratulate Liverpool City Council and the BID for engaging so actively with interested parties and organisations to be with us at the forefront of what I believe will be the future for busking in cities, towns and villages in this country.
“The aim of the guide is to foster a vibrant street culture which allows for spontaneity whilst at the same time making provision for constructively resolving any issues that may arise, using existing statutory powers, and is an example I anticipate many will want to follow. It also blows apart the myth that busking is in some way illegal.
“This is in stark contrast to some less pragmatic authorities and councils, where heavy handed regulation and over -zealous bureaucracy stifle self-expression. Buskers in Liverpool now have a guide that will help nurture music and other art forms on the streets, with all the benefits this will bring to the city, to buskers and to wider society.”
Bill Addy, Chief Executive of Liverpool BID Company, said: ‘’We welcome the introduction of this guide. It brings some clarity as to what is expected of everyone to ensure the vibrancy of Liverpool city centre is a cause for celebration and not consternation. Street entertainment can be a huge added bonus to the appeal of a city centre and this guide is a very encouraging step forward in ensuring Liverpool gets the balance right for all parties.’’