I live in Galway city. City of Culture 2020 no less. Except that our city council voted in by-laws that are actively destroying our culture.
Busking, or street music, has always been a huge feature of the city centre here. No matter the weather, no matter the economy or what’s going on the world, if you walked the city centre streets you would be guaranteed to have your mood lifted with music. So many musicians, so many characters. There was even an autistic singer!
And now that is no more.
On Jan 1st, new anti-busking laws came into place. The council will claim that they’re not anti-busking. Technically busking is not banned. But it’s been made virtually impossible. You are now no longer allowed to use an amp before 6pm. No matter what volume you set it at. Many quiet singers can no longer busk as if they were to try to be heard without an amp, they would ruin their voices. Many musicians play instruments that need amps. And nobody can now play backing tracks. Which effects not only musicians but acts like the traditional Irish dancers, who otherwise would need to organise musicians to play the music. Other laws include not being allowed to cause anyone offence. Which is such a grey area when it comes to songs. Especially ones that may use colourful language. (Fairytale of New York springs to mind)
Today I went into town. Something I regularly do a few times a week. As I’ve done for the past 11 years I’ve lived here.
And all I heard was an eery silence. And some awful pop music blaring from a few tourist souvenir shops. I felt like the heart and soul had been ripped out of the city.