Celebrating self-expression as a basic human right essential for the

healthy growth of youth, individuals and communities


Stephen H. Baird, Founder and Executive Director

PO Box 300112, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130-0030

Telephone: 617-522-3407

Email: info@communityartsadvocates.org


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Tracking a Path Across the Globe to Interview, Photograph,

Film, and Discover the Life and Motivations of the World’s Street Artists!

NYC pays $100,000 settlement to Buskers for wrongful arrests April 2016

Dublin Street Performers Fight New Restrictions 2015

Rhode Island ACLU sues City of Providence to stop arrest and harassment of street sax player Manuel Pombo July 2015

Costa Rica - Supreme Court rules San Josť busking permits unconstitutional April 2015

Petition Supporting Key West Sunset Street Performers - A Private Management company has proposed $100 per day permit fee that will essentially ban performances.  Petition created by Will Soto

How This Musician Made Seattle Street Performing Legal 40 Years Ago  by Gabriel Spitzer,  KPIU 88.5 FM NPR September 8, 2014

Robin Williams, former Street Mime and Oscar Award winning actor and comedian dies August 11, 2014

Santa Fe City Council proposes new time restrictions on Busking February 2014

Santa Cruz begins crackdown on street performers February 2014

New Orleans City Council considers new Noise Ordinance that would reduce sound level to 60 dB that would ban music in public spaces Dec 2013 then withdraw ordinance January 16, 2014

Two Performers with support from ACLU of Eastern Missouri  Challenge the Audition System, High Permit Fees and Performance Location Restrictions in Saint Louis, MO May 2013

New York City Curtails Street Performers and Street Artists in City Parks 2010-2011

Arrest and legal actions of Chris Drew for selling art on streets of Chicago December 2009. ACLU challenges Illinois eavesdropping act - Lawsuit cites cases of people charged with breaking the law for making audio recordings of police in action August 2010

Spokane Legal Battle Won January 11, 2010 and November 24, 2008

Ninth Circuit Appeals Federal Court Case won 8-3 Berger vs. Seattle June 24, 2009

Glen Hansard, a former Dublin busker, with singer Marketa Irglova win the 2008 Oscar and Grammy for the best song Falling Slowly

Wilmington, North Carolina, Law and Enforcement Practices Ruled Unconstitutional November 3, 2008

Boston Crack Down on Street Performers and Artists August 2008

MBTA-Radio Threatens Subway Performances Oct 2007

Jakarta, Indonesia bans donations to buskers September 2007

Kansas City Council attempts to ban street performances February 2007

The History and Cultural Impact

of Street Performing in America

by Stephen Baird © Stephen Baird 2000-2017

The following little historical references are just a glimpse of the depth and breadth of the creative spirit of the human race that blossoms on the street corners, market places, subway platforms and any other place people gather.
New York City Street Entertainers 1700 to 2016...
New York City has been alive with street music since the time Native Peoples were caretakers of the island. There are many diaries with early accounts of street performers in the 1700s. Newspapers started to print articles on street performer and street entertainers in the mid 1700s. Laws about noise and complaints about vendor songs and cries, also document the flourishing sounds of street music.

The waves of immigrant migrations to New York City filled the city with music of every style and tradition. Out of this melting pot came artists like Eddie Cantor, George Burns and Irving Berlin.

The Siberian born Jew who was to become to popular song writing what Heinz was to pickles arrived on the Lower East Side before his fifth birthday. Four years latter his father, a part-time cantor. died, and the boy went to work on the streets, singing for pennies. (Irving Berlin original name Isidore Baline)

Burns began his performing career at age seven as the tenor in a street singing group called the Peewee Quartet which performed in virtually every Lower East Side bar and cafe, and on occasion on the decks of the Staton Island ferry. (George Burns original name Nathan Birnbaum)

Live & Be Well: A Celebration of Yiddish Culture in America - From the First Immigrants to the Second World War, by Richard F. Shepard & Vicki Gold Levi, Ballantine Books, NY, 1982, pages 24 and 33

Mayor LaGuadia started a street performers ban in 1935 and the total ban went into effect on January 1, 1936. The New York Times had many articles on the public out cry over the ban. NBC Radio did a live broadcast in support of street performers. Judges dismissed cases, but the ban remained in effect until 1970, when Mayor Lindsey lifted the street performance ban.

The ban in NYC hurt the whole country because many instruments including street "Hurdy Gurdy" organs were bought and repaired there.

The "Beat" movement of the 1950s and early 1960s "Folk Revival" exploded with the Washington Square Riots in April 1961. Federal Court cases by poet Allen Ginzberg and folk singers started the First Amendment legal challenge of the street music ban.

Mayor Lindsey finally lifted the street performance ban in 1970.

The troubles did not end. Technically people are allowed to perform with out a license anywhere in the city if no amplification is being used. However, without a license to perform, many street entertainers are asked to "move on." The court case below highlight the ongoing issues.

New York City Curtails Street Performers and Street Artists in City Parks 2010-2013
Articles in area papers and web sites on this issue:

New York City Subway performers are constantly threatened by police officers.

Click on Image to Enlarge and read

Video details on Jia Doughman performance work: http://www.outoftransit.com/jiadoughman/



Selectd Historical References


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Copyright © 1999-2017 by Stephen Baird