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

Web site: http://www.communityartsadvocates.org  

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FLASH NEWS: Federal Law Suit to protect rights of street artists in Boston served on August 3, 2004

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The History and Cultural Impact

of Street Performing in America

by Stephen Baird Stephen Baird 2015


Baltimore, Maryland

2002 on

Update 2015

Web site with info on $25 permit at http://www.baltimorearts.org/how-to/how-to-get-a-permit/
Application form from Department of Revenue http://www.peabody.jhu.edu/conservatory/mecc/jvb/performances/BuskerLicenseApp.pdf

New license for performing in Baltimore in summer 2006 with blatant unconstitutional audition requirement.
Will the city require all Baltimore newspaper writers to send samples of their writing before people can read the papers in public spaces? Will the city require everyone who wants to speak and run for public office to go through an audition? The First Amendment does not say you have to be good. The public is the judge of expression in public spaces, not the government. Entire art forms from tap-dancing to break dancing, hip-hop to blues, jazz to rock n' roll were created on street corners and it was never considered acceptable when it was first created. Ben Franklin sang the first newspapers on the streets. Sam Adams wrote political parodies that were sung on the streets. Does the Baltimore City Council think Ben and Sam would agree to an audition before they are allowed to express their views? - Stephen Baird

Street Entertainers Program You must apply for a license from the Board of License for Street Entertainers. The application is available by clicking on the link at the top of this page and from the Baltimore City Miscellaneous Tax and License Unit, 200 N. Holliday Street, Baltimore, MD 21202. A non-refundable $25 fee must accompany the application (check or money order made out to Director of Finance) and must be submitted by July 24, 2006. Auditions are required and will be held this year on July 29, 2006 at Broadway Plaza in Fells Point. Those licensed as street entertainers will be issued a badge which must be worn while performing. The license is good for one calendar year and is renewable. Street Entertainers will also be issued a sign to post next to their "hat" for donations during their performance. For information on any of the events or services provided by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts, please call 410-752-8632 . http://www.bop.org/resources/up335.aspx

Can the City of Baltimore ban the reading of newspapers in public spaces because a police officer does not like one of the cartoons or letters to the editor or story? -- Stephen Baird
Juggler and Jokester Jerry Rowan banned from street performing at Baltimore Harborplace Amphitheater with a Maryland ACLU attorney announcing the filing of a Federal Law Suit that will challenge the City of Baltimore and Rouse Company to policy to ban street performances based on unconstitutional restrictions of content.

Jerry Rowan sent me and called me with these documents and online references about the banning of his street performances from Baltimore Harborplace by the City of Baltimore and Rouse Company on October 21, 2002 for telling a joke about the DC sniper case. This is not the first time censorship of Baltimore street entertainers has become an issue. Heyn Herman, Baltimore's Street Corner Astronomer, challenged the city of Baltimore and Rouse Company in the 1990s. The ACLU took on Jerry Rowan's case and filed court documents on October 7, 2003. Read my article on malls and the Federal Court Case against Faneuil Hall Marketplace for background information on the larger issues-- The Malling of America: The Selling of America's Public Parks and Streets--The Economic Censorship and Suppression of First Amendment Rights article by Stephen Baird Citizens to End Animal Suffering v Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Inc., 745 F. Supp. 65 (1990) The short outline is:


Note: The US District Court in Maryland ruled in favor of street performers in Markowitz v. Mayor and City Council of Ocean City, 1995. The ACLU had brought suit on behalf of a member of the Libertarian Party who wanted to collect signatures on the Boardwalk, along with a puppeteer and a juggler who regularly performed on the Boardwalk.

Ocean City, MD: Mayland ACLU sued city in 1995 -- Markowitz v. Mayor and City Council of Ocean City. U.S. District Court Judge Marvin Garbis called the ordinance "vastly overbroad" and said courts have allowed government to restrict free speech only when necessary to protect the public safety of health. Second case involved caricature artist Adam Pate in 2005. Ocean City officals under pressure of ACLU law suit were forced to allow him to do his art work on the boardwalk. See: ACLU helps artist earn right to paint on the Boardwalk by Stephanie Mojica http://www.oceancity.md/readstory.cfm?PubID=2911 ACLU Maryland press release http://www.aclu-md.org/aPress/Press%202005/070205_Pate.pdf

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