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Covent Garden has always been the place in London to go if you’ve wanted to see street performers at their best, dating back to the 1600′s covent garden has always had performers, but the current performance areas and agreements still date from the late 1970′s. Covent Garden even has ‘Magicians Corner’ pictured here, frequented by some of the biggest magical names in street performing, including the legendary Bob Read.

However all this could change going forward. Performance has always been a hot potatoes as far as westminster council, and the owners of Covent Garden are concerned. The present owners of the market are Capital and Counties, a member of The Liberty International Group, (http://www.liberty-international.co.uk/). During a key meeting in the Westminster Council Chamber they unsuccessfully opposed the street performers having any involvement in the running of the performance spaces, and are looking to change the way performance is run there. Their main aim is to impose two things that would drastically effect street artistes of all types who work in the market.

1) A 50% reduction in the total time that performers can use the spaces
2) A reduction in the length of each individual show from 40 mins to 30 mins.

The idea of a street show, as veterans like Gazzo and others know, is that the true street performer does not perform to passing trade, they gather an audience, produce a show and collect or ‘hat’ at the end, implementing these changes could cost the performers between 25% and 50% of their total average income, making the venue unviable for performers, which will undoubtedly lead to street performing in Convent Garden to die out.

I feel very strongly about this, and a myspace group has been set up to show support for the performers. You can take a few moments to sign the online petitions, so please sign both the North Hall petition and the South Courtyard petition.

You can also voice your disagreement of this by joining the mass email campaign. Just cut and paste the below sentences and send them to beverley-churchill@capcount.com.

I am writing to express my opposition to the reducing of the street theatre performance times by 50% in The North Hall, and South Hall areas in Covent Garden.I urge you to reconsider this direct attack on the livelihood of the famous Covent Garden Street Performers and Classical Musicians.

Please link to this article, email it on, and spread the word…

photo credit: alextakesphotos

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