Mayor unveils plan to boost busking across London and beyond

23 March 2015

Mayor unveils plan to boost busking and street performance across London and beyond • Busk in London scheme, backed by Westminster, Network Rail, TfL and Ticketmaster, will make it easier to busk in the capital • London's first Busking Code of Conduct unveiled, common sense rules, devised by performers, councils, businesses and the police • London teams up with cities around the country for first ever National Busking Day in July • Mayor also calling on London musicians aged 11-25 to sign up for this year's Gigs busking competition The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has announced two major new initiatives that will build on Gigs, his annual busking competition for musicians aged 11-25, which is launched today. Following last year's #BackBusking campaign, which was set up to investigate the problems faced by buskers performing around the city, the Mayor's Busk in London scheme is now up and running. It aims to make busking and street performance much easier in the capital and includes London's first Busking Code of Conduct, a set of common sense rules, devised by performers, councils, businesses and the police. The Mayor has also unveiled plans for the inaugural National Busking Day, which will see street musicians performing in cities around the country in July. The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'Our Gigs busking competition has over the last seven years provided fantastic opportunities for hundreds of young musicians to develop their skills and confidence playing to audiences on the streets of London and at other locations around the capital. 'Busking adds to the capital's joie de vivre, but in spite of its popularity, buskers have sometimes encountered problems when plying their trade. Some have even been put off. Working with our partners, we are putting a scythe through the acres of unnecessary bureaucracy to make it easier to entertain on our city's streets. We want to make London the busking capital of the world!' Busk in London is the world's first ever city-wide street performance scheme. It aims to eliminate the reams of red tape and myriad of confusing rules that discourage performers from taking to the streets to perform. The Mayor has enlisted the help of big players in the music industry and key agencies, including the Metropolitan Police, Network Rail, Transport for London and the boroughs, to help develop a pan-London approach and make the city more busker-friendly. Busk in London, which is backed by founding partners Westminster, Network Rail, TfL and Ticketmaster, includes a 'one-stop-shop' website,, bringing together information previously scattered around the web, so that musicians and street performers can quickly access busking locations across the capital. A new interactive digital map provides a network of great busking locations across the capital, and shows the boroughs that have adopted London's first Busking Code of Conduct, a set of common sense rules, devised by performers, councils, businesses and the police. The map also displays the locations of busking schemes that are already established and information on how to access them – these include the London Underground, Covent Garden and the Southbank. The Mayor is determined to make it the most busker friendly city in the world and ensure London retains its status as one of the world's greatest cities for music, creativity and performance. Music tourists contribute almost £600m to London's economy each year and evidence shows live music and performance not only enhance the experience of public spaces for shoppers, visitors and commuters, they help to increase footfall and the amount of time people will stay in an area. Through Busk in London the aim is to bring a new generation of performance into London's public spaces, benefiting tourists, commuters and businesses, and providing artists with access to new audiences, technology and income streams. As well as Busk in London, the Mayor has also launched this year's Gigs competition, the city's annual search for the capital's most talented young musicians. Aimed at 11-25 year-olds, it gives aspiring artists the opportunity to hone their skills and gain valuable experience performing in front of the public – last year it was seen by an estimated 1.8 million people – and, if successful perform at the Grand Final at Westfield Stratford City in September. Gigs also offers the chance to win great prizes to help young musicians develop their career. They include a much sought after licence to busk on the Tube; a busking trip to Paris; a bespoke music college course; recording sessions at a professional studio; and coaching from chart-topping songwriters. The competition is open now. More information about how to enter is available at The Mayor is also backing the first ever National Busking Day. Taking place on 18 July, London will be joined by other UK cities in hosting a festival of busking, where performers will be given the chance to perform in iconic locations across the country. Trafalgar Square will be at the heart of the national celebrations, with Liverpool, Cardiff and Network Rail already signed up. Network Rail stations supporting the day include London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol, Reading, York and Newcastle. More details will be announced in due course. BUSK IN LONDON – PARTNER QUOTES Nihal Pekbeken, VP of Marketing, Ticketmaster UK, said: 'We are proud of London's rich, diverse, cultural heritage and wanted to showcase the emerging world of live entertainment through the creation of Ticketmaster's tm Rising campaign. Our collaboration with Busk in London ensures we are able to introduce new talent from the streets of London to our audiences. From buskers to comedians, tm Rising brings the best of unknown talent to the forefront.' Cllr Nickie Aiken, Westminster City Council's Cabinet Member for Public Protection, said: 'We want to support busking as a thriving art form bringing the streets of the West End alive. The code of conduct will help to do this by ensuring it's done at the right place at the right time. It will protect the interests of everyone involved from residents and performers to visitors from across the world.' Gareth Powell, London Underground's Director of Strategy and Service Development, said: 'We are delighted to be a partner in the Mayor's Busk in London scheme which, in addition to the Mayor's Gigs competition and our own Underground busking scheme, will make London the busking capital of the world. These great initiatives by the Mayor will see our hardworking members of staff and our millions of customers who use the Tube everyday treated to high quality music.' www.buskinlondon @BuskinLondon @LDN_Culture #Gigs2015 WHY BUSK IN LONDON? • Musicians and street performers have found that the law is confusing and inconsistent. London had no city-wide system to support street performance. The result - a confusing patchwork of rules and regulations which dissuades many talented performers from participating. • Busking has been discouraged. Many boroughs did not provide no information about busking, or actively discouraged it. London now lags behind New York, Paris, Melbourne and other cities that nurture great performers. • When consulting with performers and officials we found that no-one is clear what is and isn’t allowed when busking in London. It also differs greatly across boroughs. • That uncertainty enabled nuisance performers and scammers to take advantage of the confusion and puts off high quality performers who are worried that they might be breaking laws. • Busk in London brings everyone together with one London-wide scheme; the boroughs, land owners, existing busking site owners, performers and the public. The aim is to fill London's public spaces with great quality street performance. • The Mayor of London's Busking Taskforce consulted with all London boroughs, police, businesses and buskers to produce a concise single code of conduct. • London's first Busking Code of Conduct is published by the Mayor and backed by Westminster, Network Rail, TfL and Ticketmaster. The Mayor is also asking boroughs and private property owners to adopt it to provide safe, professional management of existing or potential busking locations. • The single, online destination features the Busking Code of Conduct, the interactive map with information about busking locations and information about how to apply for this year's Gigs busking competition. More features will be added this summer, aimed at making it even easier for performers, landowners and the public to navigate busking across the capital. GIGS • The Mayor's Gigs busking competition is an annual event that has become London's biggest free music festival and is the largest youth music competition in the UK. It is a key part of the Mayor's Music Education strategy, which aims to strengthen and promote music education for young people, as well as supporting London's creative industries. • Each summer Gigs transforms the capital's busiest, most iconic public spaces into a stage for talented Londoners. Gigs attracts thousands of applications and is seen by millions of people • This year's competition is open now to Londoners aged 11-25, who can sign-up at Entries close on 31 May. Gigs live performances will take place from 18 July – 8 August. Online voting from 10-30 August. The Gigs Grand Final will take place at Westfield Stratford City on Sunday 6 September. • There are three categories: Youth, for performers aged 11 – 15 on 6 September 2015; Soloists & Duos for performers aged 16 – 25 on 6 September 2015; Groups, for 2 – 20 members, aged 11 – 25 on 6 September 2015. • This year's shortlisted acts will take part in live performances at Gigs busking pitches at iconic London locations, including at St Paul's Cathedral, Westfield London W12, as well as major rail and Tube stations. The best acts - as chosen by expert industry judges and the Gigs public vote – will go head-to-head in the Gigs Grand Final at Westfield Stratford City on Sunday 6 September. • Winners will have the chance to win a coveted year's London Underground busking licence; an all-expenses paid gig at the Matala Beach Festival in Crete in 2016; recording sessions at a top professional studio; a performance training package from The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance; coaching from chart-topping songwriters; a Gibson guitar and other music equipment, exciting performance opportunities and specialist industry advice to help them towards a career in music; plus the opportunity to busk in Paris thanks to Eurostar; Gigs 2015 Songwriting Award sponsored by PRS. #BACKBUSKING CAMPAIGN The Mayor launched the #BackBusking campaign last year, in response to increasing bureaucracy and the threat of sanctions affecting buskers in the capital. He set up a taskforce, to look at how to support busking in the capital. For more information go to: LIVE MUSIC TASKFORCE The Mayor's busking programme is part of a wider drive to promote support London's status as a city of music – busking testing ground for musicians who are part of a sector that as well as giving pleasure to millions of people, is worth around £1.6 billion. Many successful musicians have busked, including Ed Sheeran, Billy Bragg, Passenger and Frank Turner. The Mayor recently launched the Live Music Taskforce looking at how to mitigate closures of venues in the capital. For more information go to