Last Christmas for buskers’ charity donation obligation?

Requirements for buskers in Jersey to give all money made in December to charity could be changed for next year.

Busker Gavin Tate said it “wasn’t right” performers should pay, as it was a vital source of income for some.

The States of Jersey says performers are responsible for getting their money to charities, including the Joint Christmas Appeal.

A spokeswoman from the appeal said it did not “make an issue” of those who did not donate.

Gavin Tate
Gavin says on a normal Saturday a busker could earn £80-£100 for about nine hours of playing in Jersey.

Mr Tate, who plays in rock band The Gaa Gaas, said:

“Some people busk because they need money for their rent and for food, and so that extra bit of money coming out…and it’s forced, I don’t think that’s right.”

He queried why buskers were asked to pay when retailers are not.

What are the rules for buskers?

Busking case with cash in it
The Joint Christmas Appeal fundraises to give out hampers, food vouchers, fuel vouchers and gift vouchers to those in need. Image copyright: Getty Images

Jersey’s government asks buskers to pay £30 per year for a licence.

Performers are asked to agree:

  • Not to play for any more than 30 minutes at any one site
  • Not to return to the same pitch for at least an hour
  • Not to use “amplified musical instruments” or sound systems
  • Not to block any doorways, thoroughfares or shop window displays
  • “Over the Christmas period all money raised must go to charity”

David Rotherham
David’s inspiration to busk was being “cheered up” by another busker many years ago.

Busker David Rotherham says he does not perform during the Christmas period because of the guidelines.

“It’s a bit of a cheek really that they make you pay for permission to play, but you’re not allowed to do anything with it in the month where the streets are at their busiest,” he said.

But musicians Mia and Arthur Parkes, who always donate their busking money to charity, say the rules are “quite sensible”.

Mia and Arthur Parkes
Arthur Parkes says it was important to distinguish buskers from people who were just begging. Image Copyright: Foolish Things

However, they say paying a license fee should entitle buskers to give all their December earnings to a charity of their choice.

The rules stipulate that 15% of a performers earnings must go to one charity, Jersey’s Joint Christmas Appeal.

Annette Blanchet, Finance Manager for the charity, said it is “very grateful” for the support received by buskers, as the appeal has “a limited time” to raise it’s £100,000 target.

She added:

“We are aware that many buskers choose not to comply, and we have never made an issue of this.”

Following questions in the island’s parliament, Deputy Montfort Tadier, the Minister for Economic Development said the compulsory donations for performers “may be open to challenge”.

He said he was currently in talks with law officers on the guidelines, with a view of making “some changes” next year.


First Published 13.12.18:


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