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

healthy growth of youth, individuals and communities


Stephen H. Baird, Director

PO Box 300112, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130-0030



Like the FaceBook page for blog updates on news alerts, court cases and legal battles at


Introduction and Services

Links, Festivals and References

Artists Directory

Photo-Journalism Project

Performance Locations Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and the Americas

Historical References

Books and References

Fine Arts Paintings, Photographs and Films

Legal Court Citations

Model Regulations

Sidewalk Democracy: Regulation of Public Space

The Malling of America: The Selling of America's Public Parks and Streets

India's Street and Transit Music

Avenues of Self Expression

Code of Ethics

Amplification Ethics

Subway Transit Artists

Women Street Performers and Sexual Safety

Email List

Stephen Baird's Home Page

(Detailed site index at bottom of page)

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

Model Regulations

Hello Folks!

This is a copy of model street performance regulations. Three different model regulations are presented from a simple small town resolutions supporting street performances to a large city full scale ordinance. These model ordinances are based upon actual regulations from cities throughout the United States (Buffalo, NY, Cambridge, MA, Hartford, Ct., Toledo, OH, East Lansing, MI, Saint Louis, MO). Some copies of these regulations are provided on a second page click here. They also reflect current case law which gives First Amendment protection to street performances. The most important court cases are Goldstein v. Town of Nantucket, 477 F. Supp., 606, (1979); Davenport v Alexandria, VA 683 F2d 853 (1983), 710 F2d 148 (1983), 748 F2d 208 (1984); and Friedrich v. Chicago 619 F. Supp., 1129. (D.C. Ill 1985) (The last case concerning the Chicago ordinance time and place restrictions were vacated). Two new cases Turley vs NYC was favorably decided in May 1997, including a substantial financial settlement 988 F.Supp, 667 & 675 (1997), Turley vs NYC US 2nd Cir Appeal 98-7114. Court case decided in December 2001 with ACLU support protects street performances on Kalakaua Ave. in Waikiki, Hawaii (Decision still not published Williams, and all vs City and County of Honolulu, First Cir. Ct. of the State of Hawaii, civ No. 00-1-2039-06 VLC). See the Legal Citations page for details and many of the court cases are available on this site.

Cities and towns are required to find the least restrictive means for regulating First Amendment expression such as street performing. The cities and towns are required to present actual public safety data to justify any restrictions and regulations they enact. Generally, there should be a minimum of specific geographic location exclusions and time restrictions upon street performing.

Many city regulations are decades old. Some regulations are over 100 years old. These old unconstitutionally restrictive laws will not change unless someone takes action.

Regulations can be helpful to street artists because they can describe in detail what activities the police can regulate and set specific limits on enforcement. Without a regulation to protect the street artists from the police all performances are often stopped.

Regulations can also help street artists come to terms with overcrowded performance locations and excessive volume conflicts. These regulations set 50 feet distances between artists and set a volume level of 80 decibel at 25 feet (Average background noise from cars, busses, air conditioners and other community activities on a busy street corner is often higher than 80db).

A UCLA Department of Urban Planning research book chapter summary on the use of public space can be found on this web site at: Sidewalk Democracy: Municipalities and the Regulation of Public Space

These WEB sites will highlight regulations around the world. Some can be downloaded as pdf files:

http://www.cambridgeartscouncil.org or http://www.ci.cambridge.ma.us/~CAC/ Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA permit and regulations web site.

https://www.sanantonio.gov/Portals/0/Files/CCDO/Vending/Policy-StreetPerformers.pdf San Antonio, TX Volunteer Permit

http://www.sfport.com/index.aspx?page=1564  San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf Regulations with both scheduled spots and First Amendment areas

http://www.cityofmyrtlebeach.com/eventfinal.html#DIVISION_4 Mytle Beach, SC Regulations

http://www.smgov.net/uploadedFiles/Departments/Finance/Fees_and_Payments/INFO-StreetPerformanceOrdinance-2014.pdf  Santa Monica, CA

http://www.laparks.org/venice/pdf/ProgramRules4_02_08.pdf  Venice Beach, CA

http://www.malvern-central.vic.edu.au/2000/streetact.html http://www.malvern-central.vic.edu.au/2000/code.htm Melbourne, Australia regulations

http://www.communitybuilders.nsw.gov.au/building_stronger/vibrant/busk.html http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/cs_busking.asp Sidney Australia

http://www.stonnington.vic.gov.au/councilservices_locallaws_busking.asp Stonnington, Australia

 http://www.geocities.com/Broadway/7966/busking.html Singapore Busking regulations

http://www.downtowncalgary.com/busking.htm Calgary, Alberta, Canada

http://www.city.vancouver.bc.ca/engsvcs/streets/admin/busking.htm Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

http://www.wcc.govt.nz/ http://www.wcc.govt.nz/policy/current/busking_policy.pdf Wellington, New Zealand

Visit six city sample regulations page two by clicking here. or clicking the city link below:

However, there is no substitute for open and honest communication between all street artists amongst themselves as well as with the communities where performances occur. There is a symbiotic relationship between artists and their community. Read William H. Whyte's Rediscovering the Center City, Doubleday, New York, NY, 1988, for an in-depth analysis of the street artists relationship with the urban landscape. If street artists are so loud as to interfere with each other or choose to disregard how their performances effects on the entire community then everybody suffers.

So share the space, trade off time slots, make sure the crowd does not totally block the sidewalks, challenge and entertain your audiences, listen and support each other.

IMPORTANT: Please consider sendng in a $10 donation for this information. It takes time and money ($1000 year) to keeep it posted and updated. Make checks payable to Community Arts Advocates in US Dollars International Postal Money Orders and send to:Street Arts Advocates, P.O. Box 300112, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130 USA

Good luck with your performances and keep me updated and informed of new court cases, legal issues and performance locations.

Stephen H, Baird, Street Arts Advocates




Section l, Purpose

WHEREAS it is the intent of the City Council to encourage within the central business district and other public places a free exchange of social, cultural and entertainment opportunities between members of the public.

Section 2, Definition

For purposes of this Resolution street musicians are defined as follows: a composer, conductor, or performer of vocal, instrumental, or mechanical sounds having rhythm, melody or harmony.

Section 3, Contributions

Street musicians, mimes, dancers and theater groups shall be permitted to perform for the public upon the public streets and within the public places of the City, and shall be permitted to solicit and accept voluntary contributions from members of the public who wish to reward such activity.

Section 4, Conduct

(a) The above permitted activities shall not be considered "begging" in connection with the City enforcement of its Disorderly Conduct Code being section______, nor shall they be considered a "trade or business" for which a license might be required under Chapter ______ of the City Code.

(b) Street musicians and other performers shall at all times comply with all other provisions of the City Code, specifically including the City Noise Ordinance and Code provisions prohibiting the obstruction of sidewalks and public passage.




Section l, Purpose

The purpose of this article is to encourage and permit street performance in public areas.


Section 2, Definitions

For the purpose of this article, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings hereinafter set forth except where such terms area used in a context which clearly indicates to the contrary.

"Perform" includes, but is not limited to, the following activities: acting, singing, playing musical instruments, pantomime, juggling, magic, dancing and reciting.

"Public Areas" include sidewalks, parks, playgrounds and all other public ways located in the City of ____________, as appropriate.


Section 3 Permitted Performance Locations

(a) In outdoor public areas in the following zoning districts: ________________ If the zoning code is changed or new zoning districts created that encompass, this ordinance will cover such areas until a revision is made.

(b) A performer may not block the passage of the public through a public area. If a crowd gathers to see or hear a performer such that the passage of the public through a public area is blocked, a police officer may disperse that portion of the crowd that is blocking the passage of the public. In the event the blocking of passage persists, said officer shall cause the performer to relocate to a less congested area.

(c) It shall be unlawful for any performer to totally obstruct streets and sidewalks or to interrupt free passage along the same.

(d) No performer or group shall perform at a distance of less than 50 feet from another performer or group of performers that already is performing.


Section 4, Exclusion of Public Areas

At the discretion of the Director of Public Works, Safety, and the Commission of Cultural Affairs, certain designated areas may be excluded from further performances in emergencies for ten days.

Public hearings are required for exclusion of public areas greater than ten days.

Section 5, Acceptance of Contributions

(a) A performer may accept contributions during the performance and such acceptance shall not constitute a violation of "begging" conduct under the provisions of Section _____.

(b) The performance and acceptance of contributions, if such occur in a permitted area as provided in Section 3(a), will not constitute disorderly conduct under the provisions of Section ____________.

Section 6, Compliance

The conduct and behavior of all street performers will be in compliance with the existing codes, which includes but is not limited to the Noise and Vibration Act, the Truancy Laws, the Public Decency Codes and the laws on the obstruction of sidewalks and other passageways, as well as pamphleteering, advertising or solicitation.

This ordinance shall become effective upon adoption.



Section l, Definitions

The following terms are defined for the purpose of this regulation as follows:

(a) "Perform" includes, but is not limited to, the following activities: acting, singing, playing musical instruments, pantomime, juggling, magic, dancing and reciting.

(b) "Performer" means an individual who owns a permit pursuant to the provisions of this Regulation.

(c) "Public Areas" includes sidewalks, parks, playgrounds, and all other public ways located in the City of __________.

Section 2, Prohibition

(a) No person may perform in the public area without having obtained a permit issued under Section 3 of this Regulation.

(b)Any person who performs in a public area without a permit issued under Section 3 of this Regulation shall be fined not more than $25. The proceeds of any such fine shall be directed to the General Fund and appropriated to the budget of the Arts Council. Any person paying such a fine in excess of $l0 may obtain a permit under Section 3 of this Regulation without paying a fee therefor if application for such permit is made within 30 days of such payment.

Section 3, Permit

(a) A permit shall be issued by the Arts Council to each applicant therefor in exchange for a completed application and a fee of $l0, subject to the provisions of Section 8 of this Regulation.

(b) A completed application for a permit shall contain the applicant's name, address, and telephone number and shall be signed by the applicant.

(c) A permit shall be valid from the date on which it is issued through December 3l of the year in which it is issued.

(d) A permit shall contain the name and permit number of the applicant plus the year in which the permit is valid and any special allowance made by the Arts Council pertaining to the permit.

(e) A permit shall be non-transferable.

(f) Upon issuing a permit, the Arts Council shall also issue the perfomer a printed copy of this Regulation.


Section 4, Display of Permit

A performer shall show it to any police officer of the City of _____________ upon request.


Section 5, Permitted Performances

  1. Performances may take place in the following locations:
    1. In public areas, except those excluded by the City Council, Chief of Police, the Traffic Director or Public Works Commissioner, pursuant to Section 7 of this Regulation
    2. On private property, if the performer has obtained the written permission of the owner of such property or other person with authority to grant such permission with respect to such property;
    3. In a public area where an authorized fair or public festival is being conducted, if the performer has obtained the written permission of the sponsor of such fair or festival.
    4. Performances may take place between 7:00 a.m. and l1:00 p.m. Sunday - Thursday, 7:00 a.m. and l2:00 midnight Friday and Saturday unless otherwise allowed by the Arts Council.
  2. A performer may use electric or electronic amplification up to a level of 80 decibels measured 50 feet from the source of the sound. The conduct and behavior of all street performers will be in compliance with the exisiting Noise ordinances and codes.
  3. A performer may not block the passage of the public through a public area except as permitted by the sponsor of an event under paragraph (a) of this Section or otherwise allowed by the Director of Traffic and Parking or Public Works Commissioner. If a sufficient crowd gathers to see or hear a performer such that the passage of the public through a public area is blocked, a police officer may disperse the portion of the crowd that is blocking the passage of the public, but said police officer shall not cause the performer to leave the location.
  4. No performer or group of performers shall perform at a distance of less than 50 feet from another performer or group of performers that already is performing.


Section 6, Legal Conduct

  1. A performer may accept contributions of money or property at a performance. Contributions may be received in any receptacle.
  2. A performer who performs and accepts contributions under the provisions of this Regulation shall not be committing disorderly conduct by virtue of those acts.
  3. A performer who performs under the provisions of this Regulation shall be presumed not to constitute a disturbance of the peace or quiet, unless it is determined by a police officer that such a performance is not in the spirit of entertainment but rather is gross and disorderly conduct.


Section 7, Exclusion of Public Areas

  1. Upon the written recommendation of the Chief of Police, the Director of Traffic and Parking, or the Public Works Commissioner, the City Council will designate to the License Commission the responsibility to conduct a public hearing to determine whether a designated public area shall be excluded from further performance. The License Commission shall notify the City Council forthwith of their decision.
  2. No public area shall be excluded from performances except: by majority decision of City Council or its designated committee pursuant to paragraph (a) hereof; or by decision of the Chief of Police in the case of an emergency; provided that no public area may be excluded from performances by the Chief of Police under this subparagraph for more than 7 days.
  3. The exclusion of public areas in an emergency, as designated by the Chief of Police, shall be effective immediately. All other exclusions, by recommendation of the Chief of Police, Traffic Director, or Public Works Commissioner, shall also be effective immediately and a written notice of said exclusion will be mailed to all permit-holding street performers stating their right to a hearing before the License Commission within 7 days.
  4. Upon issuing a permit, the Arts Council shall also issue to the performer a current and complete list of all public areas in the City of ___________ that have been excluded from performance.


Section 8, Revocation of Permit

  1. The Arts Council may suspend a permit for not more than 30 days if any information contained in the application is found to be false.
  2. The Arts Council may suspend a permit for not more than 60 days or revoke a permit if a performer violates any of the provisions of this Regulation.
  3. After revocation of a permit, the former performer may not obtain a new permit until such date as the Arts Council may determine, provided that such date shall not be more than one year after the date of revocation.
  4. No permit may be suspended or revoked unless the Arts Council holds a public hearing concerning that suspension or revocation, written notice of which has been given to the performer not less than 7 days prior to said public hearing. Such notice shall set forth the facts constituting the basis for the proposed suspension or revocation.

    Street Arts and Buskers Advocates

Community Arts Advocates Index

Copyright 1999-2016 by Stephen Baird