Buskers soon able to accept cashless payments

New scheme wants to stop busking from dying out

Paul Gallagher
Tuesday 10 March 2015 20:49 GMT
A busker plays the violin on the Southbank in central London
A busker plays the violin on the Southbank in central London

Buskers will soon be able to accept cashless payments thanks to a new scheme whose backers say is vital to prevent the practice from dying out.

The Busking Project launched a digital toolkit today, allowing street performers to download special edition signs containing a unique URL that enables them to accept cashless payments in the street.

Nick Broad, the movement’s founder, said the scheme is not just about money. “We’ve released these signs today to help stop busking from dying out in a cashless society,” he said, destroying the livelihoods of thousands of artists around the UK, but this isn’t just a tech solution.

“We want a complete paradigm shift. At best, buskers are seen as failed artists. At worst they’re seen as criminals, or ‘beggars with a gimmick’ – and treated that way too.”

Mr Broad said an increasing number of musicians were being arrested as more councils crack down on busking. Even Boris Johnson’s favourite buskers, a four-piece from Cricklewood, north London, called the King’s Parade, were arrested last year in Leicester Square.

In Camden buskers now need a council-appointed panel to approve them - or face a £1,000 fine and having their equipment confiscated. Officials in Bath are considering whether to use the Antisocial Behaviour Act to make busking a criminal matter.

The trend prompted Lord Clement Jones to raise the issue in the House of Lords recently. The Lib Dem peer said: “We need a change of mindset by some local authorities. Busking should be seen as life enhancing and an essential part of our culture in Britain. We must ensure that legislation designed to deter antisocial behaviour is not used to prevent appropriate busking.”

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