Celebrating self-expression as a basic human right essential for the
healthy growth of youth, individuals and communities
COMMUNITY ARTS ADVOCATES, INC.
Stephen H. Baird, Founder and Executive Director
PO Box 300112, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130-0030
Web site: http://www.communityartsadvocates.org
Threatens Subway Performances
Stop T-Radio Petition HERE On-Line Petition http://www.PetitionOnline.com/TRADIO/petition.html
News and Meetings HERE
List of Subway Performers HERE
Newspaper and Mass Media Articles HERE
Background and History 1976-2007 HERE
Letters and Comments HERE
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! to everyone who signed petition and complained on MBTA web site "Feed Back" to Stop T- Radio. The petition was receiving 300-400 signers every day and was growing (expected over 10,000-20,000 signers by Thanksgiving and 50,000 or more through the holidays). The MBTA sited the 1800 mostly negative feed back comments as reason for suspending T-Radio immediately.
October 27, 2007
The MBTA suddenly announced a suspension of T-Radio around 12 noon on October 25th. Articles about the suspension appeared on the internet sites immediately and many media outlets the next day:
October 23, 2007
BostonMetro Article with Pyramid Radio. "T-Radio Clears the Air" by Christina Wallace http://www.metrobostonnews.com/us/article/2007/10/23/02/0901-72/index.xml
The subway artists, Federal Courts and
public have all stated the T platforms are a public space. Public
spaces can not be controlled or monopolized by any single person, group
or corporation. Will T-Radio have blacked out spaces for the
The T-Radio format does not reflect the diversity of Boston. Subway artists are from all over the world from Mexico to South Africa and India to China plus play styles from traditional music of Haiti to classical violin to New Orleans jazz.
This issue is bigger then just the subway performers. The subway artists are also extremely concerned about T-Radio's impact on the riding public. We are T riders ourselves. Read the diversity of comments of over 700 online petition signers to understand the public's point of view. Please share this url with friends and colleagues. http://www.PetitionOnline.com/TRADIO/petition.html
October 22, 2007
The On-Line Petiton has over 500 signers. View the signatures to read many great comments on the issue. Subway performers are also collecting written signatures.
The Artists Foundation sent an action alert. A letter requesting support from the T-Riders Union was sent.
Sound levels were measured with a decibel meter this past week at all three T-Radio locations: South Station was 62-68 db from 200 speakers, North Station was 65-70 db from 500 speakers, Airport Station was 68-74 db from 200 speakers. No one can escape the radio. It is everywhere. The Airport Terminals at Logan with radio broadcast from the same company were at similar sound level ranges.
Anyone who wants to "experience" the full impact of T-Radio should to go to North Station and count the 500 speakers! Go to Airport Station or Terminal A at Logan Airport where the volume is higher and listen to the radio from 200 speaker and see how it suppresses conversations, people covering their ears to talk into their cell phones, how it invades and degrades intimate greeting moments when people are returning from long trips.
The speakers are in the 30-60 foot ceilings and to be 70 db and higher at ground level the entire space is saturated with a dense sound blanket that is abusive to everyone.
Boston Metro published article on Monday. "Riders tuning out T-Radio Hundreds sign petition to stop new service" by Christina Wallace http://www.metrobostonnews.com/us/article/2007/10/21/22/3157-72/index.xml
Boston Globe is doing interviews for story in City Weekly section.
Caleb Aronson will coordinate Open Public Meeting location and date.
Pyramid Radio requested meeting this week with subway artists to present proposal and possible compromise. -- Stephen Baird
October 17, 2007
Subway artists met to form a consensus and discuss the best strategies to challenge T-Radio. Historical and background information was shared. Ideas and actions discussed include:
October 10, 2007: Here we go again! The MBTA has launched T-Radio. See
The MBTA is desperate for cash. It will abuse patrons and subway artists to get it. The new program violates many previous agreements with the subway artists.
The negative impact on subway performers will be immediate. South Station, one of the pilot stations for T-Radio, is a favorite performance spot. The subway artists were not contacted in advance even though the MBTA has their addresses and telephone numbers as required by the permit system.
I was caught off guard by this new program and will host a public meeting to discuss the opposition plan after the subway artists have time to learn about the issue and form a consensus on the best strategies to challenge this policy. -- Stephen Baird
Newspaper Articles, Multi-media articles, Blogs
Subway Artists contact information:
Caleb Aronson http://www.calebaronson.com email@example.com
Tom Bianchi firstname.lastname@example.org
John Bigelow JonLorPro@aol.com
Bobby Bishop email@example.com
Micheal Borkson firstname.lastname@example.org
Aron Chas mailto:email@example.com
Mike Hasting firstname.lastname@example.org
David Holzman DaveyTClown@comcast.net
Lisa Housman email@example.com
Meg Hutchinson firstname.lastname@example.org
Ned Landin email@example.com
Daniel Lawrence firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin McNamara email@example.com
Carlos Romero firstname.lastname@example.org
Eric Royer email@example.com
Molly Shira http://accidentalfiddler.blogspot.com/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Gonzalo Silva email@example.com
Mare Streetpeople firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Sullivan http://www.myspace.com/buskersworld email@example.com
Roland Tumble 617-921-3223
Alfredo Velasquez firstname.lastname@example.org
John Westerfield Bostonbanjo@aol.com
Sharrhan Williamson email@example.com
The Boston Accordion Lady firstname.lastname@example.org
Stop T-Radio Petition:
Click on images to download high resolution printable version (One page)
Click for PDF printable two page petition HERE
Background and History:
The history of subway performances in Boston and the country could easily become an entire book. In fact, Susie Tanenbaum wrote her graduate thesis on New York City subway artists and it was published by Cornell University Press. It is a wonderful reference and I recommend it highly. See Wesleyan University Olin Fellowship Thesis by Maggie Starr for her thesis on the Boston Subway Artists. Several other students have written or developed multimedia thesis on subway art and performances. Below are list of these sites and resources:
- Underground Harmonies - Music & Politics in the Subways of New York (Cornell University Press 1995) by Susie J. Tanenbaum The title describes the book well. It covers the ethical issues and conflicts between auditioned and scheduled artists by the MTA and the First Amendment rights of independent artists.
- http://newmedia.jrn.columbia.edu/2003/issue2/story2/index.html Site on New York City subway perfomances done as Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism project.
- http://www.mta.nyc.ny.us/mta/aft/muny.htm Site on New York City MTA Music Under New York (MUNY) program which is auditioned and scheduled
- http://pwp.starnetdial.net/submusica/pageone.html Site on Boston subway perfomances done as graduate school media project.
- http://www.thetube.com/content/faq/busking.asp London, England, Subway "Tube" site
- http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/2489361.stm Buskers played pots and pans in central London in protest against plans to license them.
- http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/1370874.stm The London Public Entertainers Collective is campaigning for the right for buskers to perform wherever they want on the London Underground network.
- http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/music/1329772.stm The London Underground new rules to allow buskers to play in the network - but only if they have official approval.
- http://www.underatl.com/1a.home.html. Underground Atlanta, 50 Upper Alabama Street, Suite 007, Atlanta, GA 30303 or call (404) 523-2311, ext. 7018 or email email@example.com for more information.
- http://www.city.toronto.on.ca/ttc/subway_musicians.htm Site on Toronto subway music program which is auditioned.
- http://www.cluas.com/music/features/metro-music2.htm Story on subway music in Madrid
- Wesleyan University Olin Fellowship Thesis by Maggie Starr for her thesis on this site about the Boston Subway Artists.
- Music In The Subways by Bethany Knight, paper on MBTA subway performers. http://www2.bc.edu/~lindgret/fws-fall2002/student_pres/Bethany/essay-2-final.htm
- Photo-Journalism Documentation Project supported by Cambridge Arts Council page (click here).
The short outline of Boston subway performers:
- Not much documentation before 1976, except the interview of Ernie Saunders by the Boston Phoenix presented in the Boston Legal Battle page, which stated he had performed in the subways during the 1940s. First Night Boston included subway performances in the first event in 1976.
- 1977 -- Governor Michael Dukakis, an arts and public transportation advocate, started Music Under Boston during his first term. Members of the Boston Symphony and other artist (including myself) were hired to perform during rush hour at the major downtown T stations. The program was run by the MBTA Public Relations Department.
- 1982 -- Around 1982, Music Under Boston was contracted out to Articulture (latter became the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center). Artists were auditioned and scheduled.
- 1985, July 18 -- Boston Globe page 69 "Boston's Subway Serenaders" by Wil Haygood
- 1986, April 1 -- The Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center stopped scheduling and auditioning artists because the MBTA no longer offered an administration contract fee and the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center was not able to raise any funds to continue the program. CMAC Officially stopped the program on April 1, 1986.
- 1986 -- Artists were threatened with arrest and often shut down for performing on subway platforms. There was even documentation of platform workers demanding payments from street artist to be allowed to perform.
- 1987 -- Subway Artists Guild was formed January 6, 1987. Numerous public meetings, media coverage, petitions and demonstrations. Public hearing conducted with MBTA at Senator Michael Barrett's office. demonstration model program developed to allow performances without auditions, with the right to sell own music cds/tapes and use of amplification.
Click on image to view and download larger version
Members of the Subway Artists Guild who all put in countless hours to improve
performance conditions for artists from left to right:
Lorraine Saltre, Sharrahan Williamson, Harvey Smith, Elliot Gibbons and John Bigelow
January 13, 1987 TAB article by E. Dennis; May 5, 1987 TAB article by Dennis Gaffney
Click on image to view and download larger version
- 1989 -- MBTA started to play music over the public address system in November. This stopped most performances during the peak performance times during the holidays. Letter writing and media campaign stopped this practice in mid December. Governor Michael Dukakis sent a nice letter of apology.
Click on image to view and download larger version
- 1990 -- Formal agreement between Subway Artist Guild and MBTA present by Attorney Dianna Stallone after extensive negotiations and meetings mediated by State Senator Michael Barrett.
- 1990, June 28 -- Boston Globe page 29 "Notes from the Underground" be Ellen O'Brien
- 1991, January 16 -- Colin Matthews, a violin player with a vaild permit, was stopped for performing at Government Center Blue Line station. Letter sent to MBTA by Attorney Dianna Stallone, Powers & Hall, to honor 1990 agreement without litigtion.
- 1993 -- MBTA starts to install 400 TVs, up to 40 TVs on some of the central station platforms. Another letter writing, media campaign, petition drive -- much of the media against the street performers for economic reasons including ABC (Channel 5) which had bought into the scheme and hoped to improve its ratings and capitalize on the monopoly of TVs on all the platforms. MBTA agrees not to have an audio signal from TVs. Other citizens groups begin legal action
- 1995 -- Installation stalls at about 40 TVs. Many do not work and are often in disrepair. Cable company goes bankrupt and remaining TVs eventually vanish by 2001.
Click on image to view and download larger version"For many persons who do not have easy access to television, radio, the major newspapers, and other forms of mass media, the only way they can express themselves to a broad range of citizens on issues of general public concern is to picket, or to handbill or to utilize other free or relatively inexpensive means of communication. The only hope that these people have to be able to communicate effectively is to be permitted to speak in those areas in which most of their fellow citizens can be found. One such area is the business district of a city or town or its functional equivalent....
It would not be surprising in the future to see cities rely more and more on private businesses to perform functions once performed by governmental agencies. The advantages of reduced expenses and increased tax base cannot be overstated. As governments rely on private enterprise, public property decreases in favor of privately owned property. It becomes harder and harder for citizens to find means to communicate with other citizens. Only the wealthy may find effective communication possible unless we adhere to Marsh v. Alabama and continue to hold that "(t)he more an owner, for his advantage, opens up his private property for use by the public in general, the more do his rights become circumscribed by statutory and constitutional rights of those who use it."
Justice Marshall from his dissenting opinion in Lloyd Corp. v. Tanner:
The Legal Court Citations section refers to the New York City subway Federal Court Cases and also includes a Boston subway Federal Court Case: Carew-Reid v. Metropolitan Transportation Auth., 903 F2d 914 (2nd Cir. 1990) (Subway) Jews for Jesus v. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (1991) (Subway)
Subway performing artist and supporters who went to the Massachusetts State House to obtain political support from elected officials. Including: Michael William Wright, Mare Streetpeople, Jamie McLaughlin, David Fox, Pumla Bhungane, John Patton, Michael Sullivan, Dave Falk, Lisa Housman. Photo taken by Lauren Ingram.
- November 2003: MBTA enacted new guidelines developed in secret that eliminated all electronic instruments, banned horn and horn like instruments (Including flutes and wind instruments), banned all forms of amplification, also restricted artists to very bizarre locations and charged a $25 permit fee. The artists did not receive notice of these new regulations until November 15th and the new regulations were scheduled to go into effect on December 1st.
Resolved this issue after a heated media, legal, email/internet, and political lobby campaigns, plus a petition drive which received over 16,000 names in eight days. Compromise guidelines still banned trumpets and all drums. See this link for in-depth details: December 2003 MBTA Restrictions Battle
- MBTA web site with the compromise guidelines: http://www.mbta.com/business_center/subway_performers/
- Transit Realty Associates, 20 Winthrop Square, Boston, MA 02110
- Contact Jack Wolfson, Asset manager, 617-482-2525 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Two Boston Globe article on September 5, 2004 with update on subway performances:
Street Arts and Buskers Advocates
Copyright © 1999-2007 by Stephen Baird