City Centre Buskers to Be Licensed

Busking in Durham
Busking in Durham

For the first time, those wishing to busk in Durham’s city centre will be encouraged to go through an audition and apply for a licence. In an attempt to limit noise pollution, the authorities will try to control the activities of street performers and buskers following complaints. The scheme, which is being launched by the Durham Business Improvement District (BID), aims to balance the needs of performers with those of the local business community.

Adam Deathe, BID’s Business Improvement Manager, said, “Buskers are trying to earn a living and add something to the character of the city, but when they are outside businesses it can distract from the work they are doing. We have all said we want to work together to find a solution.”

Six-month licences will be available for musicians and performers who pass an audition. Members of the public will be welcome to watch and to vote on which performers they wish to see on the city’s streets. BID, Durham Constabulary, Durham County Council and whatever venue the auditions are held at will also have a say in which buskers get licensed. The successful musicians will then be promoted by BID and invited to take part in various events. The first auditions are scheduled to kick off at seven pm on Thursday, 18th August, at Whisky River. Twenty performers will be auditioned. Buskers must be at least fourteen-years-old and all those under eighteen will need parental consent.

Mr Deathe said, “Live InDurham: Busking will be the first event of its kind in the city and we will be holding further events in the future too. We are hoping it will give performers and artists the chance to show us how amazing they are at what they do whilst offering the public a jam-packed evening of great music and entertainment.”

Connor Thomas, a sixteen-year-old guitarist, said, “I think it’s probably good. There are some buskers I’ve heard complaints about so it could stop them from coming. I just hope I’ll be able to continue.”

But Trevor Gray, who plays the drums and bagpipes, had reservations. He said, “Once they get licences it will be a no-go. People will be gone.” Gray plans to start a petition against the scheme. He added, “I would like to get the public on side and get more entertainers in Durham.”

Anyone interested in the scheme can find more at

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  1. I would be interested to see what criteria are used in order to ensure those auditioning know what they need to achieve to pass the audition, and what to work on if they fail. If the awarding of a licence has no auditable criteria, how can we be sure it’s not subject to some bias on style gender or whatever. A slippery slope in my opinion.


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