World Street Culture Under Attack from Lazy Government

What is the state of the art of Street Culture? Just when it was looking like street artists and buskers were enjoying an upsurge of public support and interest around the world it now becomes clear that the same issues successfully being resolved in cities such as London, York, Somerville, Kuala Lumpur and elsewhere are being inflamed by apparently repressive minded governments in places long thought of as street culture havens such as San Francisco, New York and Dublin.

One of the large issues that both sides are reluctant to debate but which lies at the heart of the street culture movement is quality of craft and where the best performers should perform. To address this issue bureaucrats have begun to mandate auditions for politicians.

Today a Vancouver publication ran an  editorial.  It is in The Province; http://blogs.theprovince.com “Governments should quit hassling buskers” In the piece the author asks what business is it of the government judging talent contest and deciding who can perform on their streets and who cannot. By the way, whose streets are these anyway? We agree in part with The Province that a way needs to be found for the free market of ideas should decide what people want to experience on their streets. For more insight on the Vancouver and Granville Island debacle taking place in READ The Tyee.

Dublin today is deciding on whether to adopt new rules and abandon the voluntary code of conduct currently in force.

  • Artists cannot use flames or objects such as knives, swords or axes
  • Performances must take place within 10 feet of the outer edge of a building
  • Musicians cannot use amps that are more than 15 watts
  • Drums are prohibited
  • No street performances allowed between 11pm and 11am, with the exception of Temple Bar and Grafton St where performances can continue until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays
  •  Punishments include a fine of €75 which can rise to €1,500 if not paid on time

It is now about 7pm in Dublin the laws as stated here will kill areas of good busking in Dublin, and impose a more artificially manipulated less vital culture.

St Louis is also about to enact a similar set of unworkable and lazy laws for the convenience of bureaucrats and the inconvenience of the people.

Somerville Festiville, Arts

Festiville, Arts

Somerville which was the site earlier this year (READ OUR ARTICLE) of a contentious battle between city officials and street performers is holding their inaugural street festival this weekend. With a new agreement between buskers and the city of Somerville all concerned are ready to make Festiville, Arts an amazing success.

Main Street in downtown Somerville on Saturday, May 18th will be closed to traffic and serve as the stage for a merry-go-round of family-friendly street performers that have dazzled crowds far and wide at street fairs, festivals, circuses, amusement parks, theaters and late-night television.

Audio meters needed in Camden

WHAT WILL MARTIN DO? Street Performance Struggle; Camden, London, UK

Martin is an endangered species in Camden these days because he and a bunch of other buskers are simply making too much noise.  I want you to listen to this performance which is as good as anything of its kind as you will see and hear on any stage or experience through any medium. The only problem with this video is that it is too short and only a small portion of the song Martin is playing.

 GiveMondays GiveMondays shot this video and gave Martin a wonderful gift. Click this to see their YouTube channel

Will Martins presence on Camden end as suddenly as this video? Well if these folks have their way and if no one has a better plan for Camden street culture, then Martin is gone and so will be an undeniably, life enhancing feature of life in Camden. Why must he leave, you ask? Street I Am asks, why not give him a place on the street where people could gather around?

It is because, (from left to right), Chief Inspector of Operations Penny Mills, Councillor Chris Naylor, Camden Town resident Judith Clute, Cllr Abdul Hai, Cllr Maryam Eslamdoust and Lazzaro Pietragnoli, think things would be better that way.You see they say Martin’s music uses amplification and they say some people around the area are complaining that this sort of thing goes on into the night, beyond all hope of reasonable tranquility and proper sleep.Their duty and solution are suddenly clear to them. The only way to ensure this supposedly highly prized form of tranquility they aspire to, is to proclaim NO AMPLIFICATION EVER! is the best for all concerned. And then make it, THE LAW!

This next video therefore should be seen as an example of the kind of busking that would be allowed under their proposed framework. Peter Lee Peter Lee

Also very pleasant to experience. Why not both at the right time in the right proportions.

If Camden is not careful they will be facing some of the same opposition that is going on in Ottawa Canada SEE OUR  ARTICLE, where chess champion and busker Daryl Bertrand would rather fight a similar law than go away quietly and accept the leniency of the judge who recently waved his $260 fine..He is presently preparing a case to be heard before the Ontario Superior Court.

Both Ottawa and Camden need to take it down a notch and do it more like they do down south in the USA. That is where Glen Orange, a visionary busker of Charleston North Carolina and a reasoned and relentless advocate for street culture, helped to create a law for Street Culture that serves the community interest.

Street Performers Hitting the Streets of Charleston

Or the Great resolution of a similar situation in Somerville

Somerville Says Yes to 1st Amendment where the serious concerns of Alderman-At-Large John Connolly were successfully addressed, He was reported to have said, “If the wind is blowing from the north or northwest, it comes right down the [Davis Square] busway, the music and the voice will sound like it’s in my backyard. Naturally one of the first things my neighbors will do is call me, and say, we love music, but when you can’t turn the volume down it’s a problem. In other words if someone complains of the noise of a performer and they are amplified then they will be subject to a fine. However if no one complains then there may be no fine.

Both resolutions involved similar concerns as exist in Camden.
There is no question that music and amplification can be a mess in the wrong place at the wrong time. In Camden as in other areas like it, a certain amplification at 10 or 11pm, may be desired in one spot but a nuisance one or two blocks away.
We await the developments in Camden, which as you know, is one of the more educated parts of the world.
By the way; They invented meters for these audio things you know? Get on it. We are sure you know somebody who has one.

Somerville Says Yes to 1st Amendment

The Somerville Board of Aldermen voted Thursday to allow street performers to perform legally for the first time in many years.but with some limitations. The Street Musicians and Performance Ordinance, allows street performance in public places but musicians need to be non-amplified in order to be completely safe from fines. Amplification is not banned outright it is subject to a complaint procedure that may vary according to location, mood of the community and direction of the wind. mass-somervilleAlderman-At-Large John Connolly said, “If the wind is blowing from the north or northwest, it comes right down the [Davis Square] busway, the music and the voice will sound like it’s in my backyard. Naturally one of the first things my neighbors will do is call me, and say, we love music, but when you can’t turn the volume down it’s a problem. In other words if someone complains of the noise of a performer and they are amplified then they will be subject to a fine. However if no one complains then there may be no fine.

The ambiguity of this facet of the new ordinance is bound to be a trouble spot for some as it is subjective at best. It is conceivable that a performer who uses amplification may perform successfully in a place one day and on another be subject to a fine simply because someone get annoyed or is in a bad mood that day.

While there is no question that the Council wants to avoid distractions to business and peace for residents from noise interfering with transactions in the marketplace and enjoyment of ones home, and that successful business areas create better opportunities for performers, it is also true that this will be a problem for some performers and may limit the enjoyment of a greater variety of performance for the visitor. It means that not only will electric guitar be a problem but also almost any keyboard. Acrobats, dancers and jugglers who almost always have recorded music will find it difficult to entertain.

Performing will be allowed between the hours of 7am and 10pm, 100 feet from a school, library, or church, as long as it does not block a sidewalk or other public way.

The Council will probably take up the issue of permits for performers soon to keep performers from monopolizing a choice spot and keeping others from being able to perform their. Smart permitting may also be a solution for the problem of amplification as well.

The new ordinance reflects the growing awareness in communities all over the world of the value of street culture.

Somerville for street culture

Somerville Alderman-At-Large Jack Connolly has written new legislation to change the outdated laws that now cover public use of the streets for events.He wants new rules in place for the summer season to attract folks to the small Massachusetts town.

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Somerville aldermen still mulling street musician law

#MA

By Emily Cataneo

This spring, street musicians might be allowed to perform legally on the streets of Somerville for the first time in decades.

But the Board of Aldermen’s attempt to change the ordinance governing street performing has been delayed by a debate over permitting. READ MORE HERE

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