Beginning May 8, our local street performers will face further rules and restrictions. Last December The Huffington Post reported that there was a likelihood of enforcements of fines for street performers. A new rule was officially instituted over a year ago but park officials have only started to enforce them.
DNAinfo reported that starting May 8, The Department of Parks and Recreation will require even the best of the city’s donation-seeking street performers to perform in designated areas in Union Square Park, Battery Park, the High Line, and specific spots in Central Park or face a $250 fine minimum.
Performers are required to set up at least 50 feet away from any monuments, fountains, or public art installations, as well as more than five feet away from and park or street furniture. In the future, this could definitely become an issue in our lovely Washington Square Park what with our fountain and the number of performers in our park.
Tic and Tac, Piano Man, the jazz quartets, Hari Krishna tambourinists, et cetera. Would they leave us, or would some stay? Who really is going to enforce these rules?
In May 2012 officials’ previous policy made it clear that performers did not have to follow the same rules as “expressive matter vendors” and Department Spokesman Philip Abramson added that the news did not constitute change. However, this instatement of rules has been received with frustration and anger.
“This is another attempt from NYC parks and recs to limit our first amendment rights expressed through street performing. This 50 foot rule is intended to completely ban street performers from Washington Square and severely limit them in other city parks. The idea is to get those of us, like myself, who gather large crowds out of the parks,” said NYU CAS Sophomore and street magician Jeff Thomson.
Lastly Abramason said that, based on questions raise in a litigation matter, the agency determined the necessity to state that the rules apply to performers as to “expressive matter vendors” who sell or solicit donations in exchange for tangible items.
Sound convincing? Not to Thomson, who believes there will be a fight for park rights. “Street performers and buskers will continue to fight against these laws as we always have done,” he said. “Parks and Rec attempted to pin us as “vendors” and then attempted to force us to get “special event” permits in order to perform. These fines are perpetually given out and we go to court to challenge them. . . I’m honored to go to school in this city and if anything, these laws only motivate me to share my magic and comedy out on the street even more.”