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Red Light Busking - The Origins

Updated: Jan 25

Just Know You're Now Part of Something Special...

Red Light Busking Purpose Part 1 


Red Light Busking, the words will forever cause raised eyebrows for some. As some imagine live scenes of a silhouette challenge, Amsterdam’s central end, fractals of femininity casting spells behind the looking glass. Others imagine a new age technology built upon the healing properties discovered in the coloured spectrum of red. Funny how for protection in ancient times the dead were buried with powdered red keeping away the spirit of lurking evil. Though time’s forever shifting, a meaning starting with once upon a time, usually finds no understanding in modern times. But for Red Light Busking what we will be clear on is that it means we will be bold in our actions, in the same way how the colour of red brings courage to the warrior walking through the valley of the shadow of death. We too stand true in our purpose, going where needs be, to help empower our community... 


David Anglin 



For some this will be their first introduction into Red Light Busking and what it is we do. With that being said instead of telling you what we do we thought it would be more interesting for us to show you what we do. Below is the timeline of Red Light Busking from our humble beginnings as the 4TY project until now...

4TY now known as Red Light Busking was developed from the founders initial work with young people known to the criminal justice system, and realising how effective music can be in turning around the lives of young people in the criminal justice system. The video above details his experiences

2011 - Our initial project was our 4TY Industry Survival Guide project, where with our young people who would be considered disadvantaged we went up and down the roads, interviewing artists of the time such as Dot Rotten, Jaja Soze, Rude Kid, Stush and more, where young people would find out their opinions on the music industry and would take part in a rap session with the artists. After the interview we taught the young people how to edit the video using final cut pro, and taught them how to market the videos, where they achieved an AQA qualification. 

2018 - Our Music Studio Project which has proved to be very popular started from the initial idea of our founder David Anglin working with young offenders and taking them to a music studio. Our Music Studio Project works on this same principle where each week we receive referrals of young people who are known to either social services or the youth criminal justice system. The young people then get to join us in creating music (We're definitely sitting down on some hits :D ) where they also get the chance to collaborate with different professional musicians. The image above is from when the conga drum musician Willlians joined our sessions infusing it with afro latino grooves. Crazy session. Ps due to the nature of the young people we work with we protect their identities hence the young people are not shown.

And this is where Red Light Busking started. The year was 2019 and Waltham Forest had won the title for the first London borough of Culture, which meant that Waltham Forest would be a hive of activity. Our Founder David knew that he wanted to be part of this, so put through a first idea for a Make It Happen grant that was rejected. Sitting in his barbers chair one day and discussing with a friend the borough of culture events, and the lack of events that represented who we are, they both agreed that more culture was needed! Sitting in his barbers chair watching the people go by and infuriated with an idea of 'they want culture, I'll give them more culture then they can handle!' He imagined that how crazy would it be that as people go past they get to see live musicians in the shop window. Yeah a Red Light Busking he thought, that name sounds mad he thought. It's perfect he though after. He put through the grant and out of 250 plus applicants he was just one of 13 chosen. Red Light Busking was born 6 shop windows in Walthamstow market transformed. 16+ live music performances. Collaborations and opportunities for over 30 plus businesses and people. The rest was history...

2020 - It was covid times, and everyone was scared. Honestly! With funding from the Arts Council we put on a newer version of Red Light Busking, based on going a little bit deeper with our transformations of shop windows, and in our collaborations with businesses. If we were ever in doubt during this time if people wanted to hear live music during the period of covid, the tears of joy of an elder lady approaching us as she told us it had been so long since she had heard live music, especially during times like this. She simply told us thank you. We were honoured.

2021 - This time was definitely testing, we had grown in our ambitions, in really being able to create experiences that make you go wow! Though funding was definitely more harder to obtain this year. Though even without funding we decided that we must still do what we promised in bringing life and vibes to the high street. So with our newly hired set designer, and our team member Laila at the time rehearsing her set, we again brought vibes that had people outside the shop of 100% U dancing and cutting shapes in the day time.

2022 - Brought us to our Dem Live A Foreign exhibition, where we looked into the cultures of Caribbean and Somali's. Where for the Caribbean exploration we recreated what a front room looks like during the period of a family getting ready for Notting hill carnival (J'ouvert) and what a Somali home looks like during the time of a bride getting ready for her wedding. This exhibition was special as we not only showed that we can put on engaging events like what you'll find at Tate Museum, but we showed we can go even beyond, as we authentically showcased culture, gave opportunities to local food vendors, provided free food for our communities, created paid work experience roles for young people in care and known to the criminal justice system, but in old school Red Light Busking style we also provided the high streets with high quality music. 

If you've enjoyed reading our journey so far and would love to support what we do, please consider making a donation so that we can continue to keep our events and exhibitions free for you. The amount doesn't matter as even £1 goes very far for us. Thanks. 

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