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Busking

A performance, usually of music or dance, in a public place given with the intention of receiving money for private gain from passers by.

Street entertainment, such as buskers, often form part of the street scene in many towns, providing entertainment to passers by. Quality street entertainers are welcomed by many towns as the help create a lively and colourful atmosphere.

I would like to busk in Dorset, what do I need to do?

The permission of the land owner will be required. If you would like to busk on the public highway you will need permission from the Highways Authority, usually Dorset County Council. Some areas of land may however be owned by the relevant Town Council and therefore permission from them will be required.

Do I need a licence?

Busking, when performed in the traditional way is not usually considered a licensable activity under the Licensing Act 2003. If however an event was to occur to which buskers were to be the main attraction, then it is likely that a licence will be needed.

In addition to this since the introduction of the Live Music Act 2012, unamplified live music is not licensable between the hours of 8am and 11pm.

West Dorset District Council have written a specific busking information booklet (pdf, 104kb) (opens in a new window) applicable to their Council area.

Can I sell my copies of my music?

If you sell any goods whilst busking, you will also be street trading and will therefore need to comply with the street trading legislation for the relevant area. Further information on street trading is available.

What else do I need to think about?

  • Noise - complaints can arise if the volume, duration and frequency of the noise is excessive for residents or local businesses. Buskers and any other forms of street entertainers should therefore ensure that noise levels are kept to a reasonable level. The Environmental Protection Act 1990 does enable a Council to take action against persons causing a noise nuisance
  • Obstruction - the pavements and highways need to be kept clear for pedestrians. If you or your audience are causing an obstruction it is likely that the Police or a Council representative will move you on
  • Anti-Social Behaviour -ensure that you do not use, threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or written material
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