Conservative MP Damian Collins has caused anger by suggesting that millions of jobless young people in the UK should busk to raise cash and work for less than the minimum wage.
Speaking at a Channel 4 youth unemployment event in Folkestone, the Tory MP said that when working for the advertising agency M&C Saatchi, a creative director had told him he had “busked to raise the train fare to get into London to hawk his book of work around until he got his break”.
Collins’ comments came after Stella Creasy, a Labour MP, made a point that many people are struggling to afford the cost of train travel and other expenses that come when seeking jobs further afield in London and other cities.
While many musicians enjoy and profit from busking, the perception of the street performing as a casual and quick money making scheme is out of sync with the reality of many players.
If job seekers are finding it hard to afford the commute to job interviews, it’s unlikely they would be able to cough up the fees demanded for the necessary busking permits and street pitch fees that are required of modern day street musicians. Increasingly, many local authorities operate waiting lists for their over-subscribed busking slots as well as requiring prospective performers to under go a rigorous process of auditions – busking is far from a cheap and fast way for young people to make money on the fly.
Busking illegally without the relevant permissions and paper work can quickly lead to players being shut down in most towns and cities by the police or licensing authorities. Musicians who continue to flaunt the regulations in search of a guitar bag full of cash after such warnings can find themselves faced with fines and other penalties.
Although the costs of applying for performance licenses can be prohibitive for anyone beyond the serious, seasoned street musicians, young players struggling to fund their talent can find support when purchasing instruments and learning materials from Take It Away.
Take It Away is an Arts Council England initiative designed to make it easier and more affordable for children and young people to get access to musical instruments. For more information read our blog on their interest free credit initiatives for young people and their parents, or check out their official site.
What do you think of MP Daniel Collins comments? Have you experienced problems trying to busk? Is busking under appreciated?
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