by Trevor
Bristol Buskers (UK)

Amps - Extras - Where - Legal - Video - Go Wireless

This page is about the Legal and Local Official / laws / permits / permissions concerned with Busking in Bristol.

The information given here is general and supplied by regular Buskers in Bristol, so if they haven't encountered problems, it's unlikely you will.

Question - My friend and I are planning on doing some occasional busking in Bristol, but we weren't sure if we needed a licence, or even how to get one. Do you need a licence / license to busk in Bristol.

Answer - You don't require a licence to Busk in Bristol, (or most other places), at least to perform in the main 'public' areas, such as Broadmead or in the Harbour area, but you do require written consent to perform in the managed shopping areas, such as in Cabot Circus or in the Broadmead Galleries. This information comes from the word of mouth of the other Buskers who have been happily Busking in Bristol for years.

The main thing is if you don't go over-the-top with your Busking - like this fella did - nobody is going to complain or bother you.

Question - I'm new to busking and wondered if anyone could tell me the legalities of selling your own CD's in Bristol while busking?
The (1) and (2) below etc, refer to differing opinions

Answer (1) - Legally, you can't sell your CDs without a licence. Also you can't ask people for money - if you want to play and leave your instrument case open for people to voluntarily put money in, that's legal. In Bristol I've seen so-called 'buskers' who flagrantly go on the streets with the primary purpose of selling their albums. They seem to do this with impunity. Other places this would not be tolerated and you'd soon have some official (not necessarily a super asshole of one) telling you to move on. These officials do not normally take action on their own initiative. They are obliged to follow up any complaints they receive from members of the public, shopkeepers, legal street traders, etc.

Answer (2) - Think it's an oft-broken law. The Broadmead authority came and talked to me about that and various things about six months ago, but I haven't heard a peep from them since. Probably got bigger fish to fry I imagine. I'm going to record a CD of just the cover songs which I busk, then just make a sign saying donate whatever you like for them, Radiohead style. I think you can get a Tinker's License for about £14 a year if you're a play-it-by-the-book sort of chap.

Answer (3) - Never had any problems with police in Bristol or anywhere else in all the years I've been busking. Private security will often move you on if you set up somewhere where you shouldn't. Fair enough, but I've also had a few brushes with little Hitlers trying to tell you to move on from places where they have no authority to do so.

Answer (4) - Police went past me the other day and it was all smiles :-)

Bristol City Council Buskers Guidance - CLICK HERE - It's a good idea to print this off and keep in your instrument case, just-in-case of Officialdom

The Arts and Culture team at Bristol City Council are aiming to make some central areas of Bristol busking tolerant, as a way of animating the city and providing performance platforms for local performance artists especially throughout the summer months. The policy for busking is still in production, but as a general guidance, you would need to give due regard to local residents and businesses and seek their permission when located in close proximity to any property. Narrow Quay, Bush Corner and Pero's Bridge are licensed by Bristol City Council for performance spaces under the conditions of our Premises Licences, but in using these spaces you will need to observe the following:

Noise (for example music and voice) should not be so loud that it can be plainly heard at a distance of 30 metres. Busking must not be intrusive or a nuisance to nearby premises. If requested to reduce the volume of music you should try to do so as far as possible.

To prevent the possibility of busking being intrusive or a nuisance to any nearby premises, you should move to another pitch after 1 hour and not perform again in that location for 2 hours. Note: particularly noisy entertainers (e.g. bagpipers or drummers) should not perform for longer than 30 minutes. These measures can help prevent complaints from shopkeepers, office workers etc You should not obstruct the highway, but you also need to be responsible for ensuring that the highway is not obstructed by people gathering to listen or to watch the performance. The highway includes any pedestrianised areas.

Entertainment is only permitted between the hours of 10:00hrs and 20:00hrs and no sale of any merchandise is allowed. Contributions must not be solicited. This is begging and you could be arrested or prosecuted if you do. If performing on any private land, you need to seek permission of the landowner first. The performance must not attract more than 499 people at any one time so you will need to use your professional judgement to decide if there are more than 499 people there and / or if risk is increased.

It may also be possible to busk within any of the Council's spaces that are already premises licenced for events, but please contact us in advance for advice if you wish to use these spaces. There are several other laws and pieces of legislation that may also apply to your event in addition to the Site Licence and Premises Licence.

Please contact the Council Licensing Office on 0117 914 2500 for further information, or if you require a "Street Collection Permit" for the collection of money, or the sale of goods for a charitable purpose, which is held on a street or a public highway. Click HERE for Street Collection Application and Information

If you have more info that could help, please contact me via the email address at the bottom of this page

Please email if you know of any errors, changes, or new information for these pages.
Website by Trevor George ... Hotwells, Bristol, UK