Dear select friends,
I hope that this message finds you well as Christmas approaches. All is not well on the streets of Great Britain and, once again, I need to ask for your help. An online campaign has begun to fund an historic legal challenge.
In the next 24 hours lawyers from Leigh Day, a leading Human Rights firm acting on behalf of the Keep Streets Live Campaign, a not-for-profit organisation I have founded to campaign for public spaces that are open to grassroots and community uses, will serve papers on Camden Council, asking a High Court Judge to strike down a contentious new law which effectively criminalises street music and gives the council the power to fine musicians Â£1000, seize their instruments by force and sell those same instruments to pay the fine. Under this new law, even singing in the street for fun is potentially illegal!
When I began campaigning against unfair busking policies in towns and cities such as York and Liverpool I never anticipated that this would become such a big part of my life. However, restrictive laws and policies are being implemented across the country that threaten the cultural and artistic freedoms of the streets in the name of administrative convenience. I am convinced that public spaces which are open to the arts and to the wider community are good for the well-being of our towns and cities and I want to be in a position to make this positive case at a national level and be in a position to stop laws like this BEFORE they are passed in the future. I can't do this alone!
Our High Court challenge in Camden aims to set a precedent about the fair use of public space. Playing music is not just a livelihood for people, it's also a vital outlet for human expression. In my case, quite simply, being able to make a living singing songs saved my life and gave it meaning after a very difficult depression. Freedom of expression is protected under the Human Rights Act, and our legal team are going to argue in Court that Camden Council have not balanced the rights of people to express themselves through music against those of people who have occasionally complained about noise. However, there is no way that we can take this kind of landmark legal action forward without adequate funds to protect us from liability if we lose.
I have set up an online crowdsourcing account which you can visit at this link. This allows people to make donations to our cause in return for optional 'perks' such as t-shirts, signed prints and even house gigs! Over the next month and a half we are seeking to raise Â£25000 for our fighting fund to safeguard the freedom of the streets. Please take a look at our campaign and see if there is anyway you can help us. Also, if you know of people who might be interested, feel free to forward them this email!
Once again, this is the link to our crowdfunding campaign: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/keep-streets-live-campaign/x/2921332
Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you would like to talk to me personally about anything I've written, I would welcome that. My number is 07887552088 and my email address is email@example.com
With love and my best wishes for a happy Christmas,
Founding Director of the Keep Streets Live Campaign
http://keepstreetslive.com (For campaign updates)