Some York buskers are brilliant. Some are good but too loud and repetitive. And some are downright bad.
The question is: how do you encourage the good ones, quieten the deafening ones, and persuade the shockers to move on?
That was debated at a City of York Council meeting, which heard that some businesses have complained about the noise created by street performers, with one councillor saying some acts are “extremely monotonous”.
Jane Mowat from the council’s community safety team said busking is part of York’s “vibrant culture” but that it does create problems.
Hijacked by groups
She said: “We have got these challenges with certain buskers making a lot of noise that’s affecting the business community.
“Last summer we saw a particular spike because of the nice weather. We saw a significant increase in the number of buskers and quite often they were being hijacked by groups and that creates a big crowd.
“We are very mindful that we are a compact city.”
And she added that some musicians refuse to come to York anymore because they do not like it when passers-by grab their microphones.
She added: “We are working with a group of buskers and made sure they are happy. It’s designed to protect their interests.”
But Cllr Chris Cullwick highlighted Coney Street as an area where he said busking is particularly bad and asked if an 8pm curfew could be enforced. He said:
It can be pretty awful in Coney Street.
The busking that concerns me most is that in the late or early hours, particularly in Coney Street, some of which is extremely monotonous and can become a focus for anti social behaviour and certainly doesn’t encourage residential development.
Curfew ruled out
The council is working with Make It York to update the city’s guide to busking document and Ms Mowat said street performers can also display a card saying they will not hand their microphone over to members of the public.
She said it would be difficult to get a curfew agreed and added that the council had previously outlined plans to audition buskers before they were allowed to perform, but that it had not been possible to legally enforce the policy.
Patrols monitor the city centre and officers will take action when they discover anti social behaviour related to busking.
A report prepared for the meeting says: “All partners recognise that busking and street entertainment plays a valuable role in contributing to the vibrancy of the city centre, but that consideration must also be given to ensure that it does not have a negative impact on businesses and visitors.
“Enforcement action will only be taken when complaints cannot be resolved through informal discussions.”
Work on the updated busking guidelines is expected to be completed by June.