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
(Detailed site index at bottom of page)
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
The History and Cultural Impact
of Street Performing in America
by Stephen Baird © Stephen Baird 2014
The following little historical references are just a glimpse of the depth and breadth of the creative spirit of the human race that blossoms on the street corners, market places, subway platforms and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.
UPDATE February 2014
The Public Safety Committee will meet today, feb. 18, at 4p in city council chambers. next month, march 26, public comment will be accepted by anyone interested in the looming buskers restriction ordinance, sponsored by outgoing councilor chris calvert.
the ordinance proposes restricting buskers to only working until 8pm. of course, this is absurd. other people working in the entertainment industry (bartenders, waiters & waitresses, cabaret singers, d.j.'s, dance bands, etc.) could not earn a living under these restrictions, and neither can, nor should, buskers.
kansas city, austin, albuquerque and taos are also the scene of low-level to dramatic harassment of buskers. this is nothing new -- in the days of babylon, street performers tongues were sometimes torn out if they got out of line.
i propose that anyone interested send me a reply. i am calling for buskers in sta. fe to band together, as we did 8 years ago, which resulted in our ability to work in this our hometown 7 years ago this summer.
it took work to obtain these rights, and it will take some work to protect, maintain and expand them.
before i get too into the details -- some of you are no longer living here, some of you might have too much muck in your inbox, some are no longer buskers, but have fallen .... i mean, been elevated, to playing in the clubs and pubs.
if you do not wish to be on this mailing list, or involved with SantaFeBuskersAlliance, then please let me know and i will delete you from this list. if yo are interested, either as a busker, a busker lover, or supporter/friend/family member, then also please let me know.
i am starting this e-mail account with two groups: SFBA (members, more actively interested or involved)& Buskers & BuskerLovers (a larger group who wish us well and want to be informed, and may even come out for us on occasion, but who don't busk and don't want to be involved in the grimy details.
please let me know if you want to be in either of those groups, or if you'd prefer no be deleted from my eddresses altogether. also please fwd this to any well-wishers, interested people, or buskers/buskerlovers.
then i'll write further, and we can hold a gathering, discuss strategy.
peace, love, revolution y home-made soup,
j. michael combs <firstname.lastname@example.org>
August 10, 2006
Buskers win battle to perform in Santa Fe with support of New Mexico ACLU
- Received email from Michael Combs November 2005 about ongoing issue of the stopping of street performances in Santa Fe over the collection of donations. I sent letter outlining issues and list of legal help.
- Sante Fe Buskers Alliance held naugural meeting on Dec. 13, 2005
- Janauary 2006, Santa Fe Buskers' Alliance is getting encouraging assistance from American Civil Liberties Union. Some of their Lawyer-members are planning to attend our next monthly meeting. Our objective is to secure lasting protection from decades-long illegal harrasment of street performers by Santa Fe Police.
- Press coverage in February 2006
- February - July, 2006, Draft of Letters and Proposal revised
- Petiton Sent to Santa Fe City Council in July 2006
- New Mexican. The Albuquerque Journal (Journal Santa Fe) http://www.freenewmexican.com/news/47569.html
- Stephen W. Terrell's Web Log http://steveterrell.blogspot.com/2006/08/busk-move.html
- August 10, 2006 Santa Fe City Council lifts ban on solicitation under pressure of law suit by New Mexico ACLU and buskers
- April 14, 2012
- hello stephen,
Hope you are well. it's a blustery day with snow on its way. though i live 90 miles north of sta. fe, up near the colorado border, i work down there.
After sta. fe passed a resolution to stop the illegal harassment of buskers, albuquerque and taos (60 mi. So. & 70 mi. No, respectively) each followed suit and opened their town for buskers. albuquerque even hosted a buskers fair, "NM Busker Days" a week or two ago. and the University of New Mexico in Alb. continues to be busker destination. ++ Taos can be a little tough, with adjacent merchant's permission required, some hostile merchants, and a city council only marginally tolerant of buskers. a private pedestrian mall called Bent Street where buskers can schedule times, tho a little competitive territorialism amongst locals can make it less than totally welcoming. but it has its moments, best in summer. ++ New mexico's farmers markets are a chief busking opportunity, with santa fe's the most lucrative and thus more competitive. they require a city busking permit and scheduling, particularly in winter, and prohibit amps (as does taos.) The los alamos farmers markets, taos,' albuquerque's and las cruces' are also good busking opportunities. ruidoso has busking, and i've busked red river.
Santa fe inaugurated a $10, one month license particularly aimed at kids, travellers, and beginners. after a month you need to decide if this is for you, because you then have to ante up the $35 for a year permit, that ends on 12/31 regardless of when you bought it.
be well, jmc
- July 2, 2012 Stephen - here is an article in yesterday's local paper about the busking scene in sta. fe. I never fail to tell people how helpful CAA was to us in securing buskers' rights here in NM's capital city. best, jmc
- Licensed to Delight: Business is booming for city's street performers - The Santa Fe New Mexican
SANTA FE BUSKERS ALLIANCE
Petition to Santa Fe City Council
"How quiet the streets are. Are there no itinerant bands, no wind or stringed instruments? No, not one. By day there are no Punches, Fantoccini, dancing dogs, jugglers, conjurers, orchestras, or even barrel-organs? No, not one."
--- Charles Dickens, visiting America in1841.
Buskers: Those who perform in public places for tips, such as mimes, musicians, puppeteers, jugglers, clowns, etc.
In 1833, The Santa Fe City Council met to regulate and license buskers. In Santa Fe as in other parts of the Spanish Empire and Mexican Republic, public performances were common. The Territorial Period also saw organ grinders, dancing bears & monkeys, acrobats and musicians, both local and traveling through. The 20th Century has seen less busking in Santa Fe, though it has persisted in other parts of the former Spanish Empire and its Borderlands.
In the last 35 years, law enforcement and downtown merchants have resisted a resurgence of busking in Santa Fe. In 1985, Michael Combs petitioned City Council, requesting permission to perform without harassment on Santa Feís sidewalks, to no avail.
The Santa Fe Buskers Alliance was formed in 2005 to secure and protect the rights of buskers. Research shows that in dozens of American Cities, Courts have upheld street performing as a protected First Amendment right. The New Mexico Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has agreed to work with SFBA. We wrote a letter to then-City Attorney Anne Lovely in February 2006 (see attached letter). Because of the recent City elections, we have waited until now to present our petition, in spite of continued harassment by local law enforcement.
CITIES WHERE BUSKING THRIVES
- Portland, Or.
- St. Augustine, Fla.
- Mexico City
- New Orleans
- New York City
- San Francisco
- Venice, Ca. (& Italy)
- Hong Kong
- Washington, D.C.
COUNTRIES & CITIES WHERE BUSKING IS / WAS ILLEGAL
- Haiti under Duvalier
- Pyongyang, N. Korea
- Havana, Cuba
- Kabul under Taliban rule
- Minsk, Belarus
- Beijing under Mao
- Moscow, Prague, Budapest during Communist rule
AMERICAN CITIES WHERE COURTS HAVE RULED TO PROTECT BUSKING
- St. Augustine
Over the past twenty years, American Courts have ruled in dozens of cases that Cities can regulate, and license busking, but they cannot prohibit it. Performance and the receiving of tips is a form of speech protected under our State and Federal Constitutions as well as under the United Nations Declaration of Universal Human Rights. In some legal cases where the city has chosen to fight, awards and legal costs have mounted over $100,000.00.
WHY BUSKING IS GOOD FOR SANTA FE
1. Santa Fe prides itself and markets itself on its orientation to the arts and culture. Busking is another wonderful artistic, cultural outlet and phenomenon that is an integral part of many great cities.
2. Busking will enliven the streets of downtown Santa Fe and help draw locals and tourists alike to the downtown area. This builds community.
3. Local musicians benefit from an additional source of income, and Santa Fe benefits in turn by having a better music scene.
PROVISIONAL BUSKERS REGULATIONS
1. Persons wishing to busk in Santa Fe must have in their possession a license from the City of Santa Fe, which shall cost $25.00 for one year. At the time of receiving a license, performers shall show I.D. and agree to abide by these Regulations and the Buskers Code of Conduct. The license must be displayed when performing. At least one person among a group of buskers must have a license when performing.
2. The Portal of the Palace of the Governors will be off limits to busking when vendors are present, and busking will be off limits withiní 100 ft of the Cathedral of St. Francis.
3. Buskers may perform at any public location in Santa. Fe provided they do not block the entrance to any residence or business during the hours that business is open, and that the sidewalks are passable. Buskers must stay at least 150 ft from another busker.
4. Buskers are to remain no longer than 2 hours at any one location and may not return to that location for another 2 hours.
5. Buskers shall respect all City Noise Ordnances. In addition, busking hours are to be no earlier that 8 a.m., no later than 11pm Sunday through Thursday, and no later than 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
6. Buskers agree to and sign the Buskers Code of Conduct.
PROVISIONAL BUSKERS CODE OF CONDUCT
1. Understand that your behavior reflects on all buskers. Bad behavior on one personís part can give us all a bad reputation. Dress well. Behave well. No aggressive tip soliciting.
2. If all good locations are occupied, buskers are to yield up a location to another busker wishing to perform there one hour after being informed of the new buskerís desire to use that location.
3. If you have a large group or draw a large crowd, find a location where you are not blocking the sidewalk or otherwise causing problems.
4. If you play a particularly loud instrument (banjo or accordion for example) understand your sonic footprint is pretty large and you should perhaps allow more than the requisite 150 ft between you and another busker
Check out the Albuquerque Journal North, Monday, Feb. 6, 2006. We're on front page. Thanks, Polly& Katherine & Ben; great work. Que Vive la revolucion! Que Vive la Gente! Arriba el Pueblo! ...........mc
Street Musicians Have Formed Buskers Alliance to Get Law Changed: In a town touted as the City Different, street musicians might seem like a natural. But Santa Fe has an anti-solicitation ordinance that "buskers" maintain is used to keep them from plying their trade on downtown sidewalks. (Monday, February 6, 2006)
ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL, 7777 Jefferson Street NE, Albuquerque, N.M., 87109-4360 (505) 823-3800 Northern Bureau, 328 Galisteo, Santa Fe, N.M., 87501 (505) 988-8881
Newsletter # 1 January 2006
The Buskers Alliance had our inaugural meeting Dec. 13, 2005 in Sta. Fe at a memberís home, with four 2-legged buskers in attendance. We reviewed the current situation, to wit:that street performers in Santa Fe are currently and have been for at least 20 years subject to illegal, intermittent harassment while trying to lawfully and peaceably ply their trade, and are thereby suffering financial hardship, social alienation, unemployment with all its attendant evils; their families are suffering diminished support, and anxiety and ruin stare them in the face.
Inspired by the examples of many courageous buskers around our nation, across the globe, and across the ages, we have determined that our cause is just and that the Constitution of our country does, in fact, guarantee us the right to play our music on these streets of our home city, and weíve seen that the courts do invariable uphold that right whenever implored to do so.
Confident, then, and determined to support each other, we delegated two of our members to draft a set of Guidelines for Performers that will be presented to the membership at the next monthly meeting for approval and modification. The source materials we will use for this are our own experiences busking on the streets of Sta. Fe and many other cities, copies of street performers regulations we have from Pike's Market, and various other cities, and sample regs offered at a website for buskers support.
We have set up an E-mail address: email@example.com
Our next meeting will be January 17.@ 7pm. Call 438-6636 for mtg. info. We may go busk on San Francisco St. the day before, sort of a group demonstration. If the heat makes a showing, we intend to peacefully withdraw K& desist.
One of our members is also a dues-paying, card-carrying member of that nest of vipers, the A.C.L.U. We hope that we will get our guidelines approved by the downtown merchants, the city attorney, the chief of police, and the city council WITHOUT any resort to the courts.
If you or a friend wish to receive this newsletter, please e-mail us. If you can make a donation to help printing, stamps, please jej-mail us & weíll set it up. If you have any ideas, energy to contribute, contacts, goodwill, send it to us.
Jerry Faires composed a beautiful poem about street musicians; it is attatched.
Michael Combs will perform @ Upper Crust Pizza, Friday the 13th, 6-9pm.
MUSIC PLAYED for FREE
London, Paris, Buenos Aires, New Orleans or Rome
San Juan, San Francisco, Sao Paolo, Carcason
Nairobi, Copenhagen, Vancouver, Old Hong Kong,
All hear the gift of music from the buskerís tune and song
In parks on corners on subways, on concrete or polished floors
The music flows on freely from the sidewalk troubadors
In every village, country, continent, like a vast great tapestry
The tradition lives in the gift it gives: Music played for free.
Some pass straight by and scarcely hear, donít think it worth the mention
Others stand a great long time in silent rapt attention
Some join in, some shake their heads, most hesitate awhile
Then take away to their busy day a tiny, tuneful smile
And in the basket, tin, or instrument case drop the currency of the nation
To give back to the givers some small token of their appreciation
Itís part of human nature, the culture of the song
Itís the drum within the breast, the heartbeat deep and strong
So we build the mighty concert halls and gladly bear the cost
To support great musicians so great music wonít be lost
But there never was a symphony whose music was more sweetjerr
Than the music given freely by the player on the street
And as important as the Opera House, the libretto and the scores
Is the music played straight from the heart of the sidewalk troubadors.
Santa. Fe, New Mexico, U.S.A.
Copyright, used by permission, mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org http:/jerryfaires.com
Santa Fe Street Musicians; MLK Direct Action & Invitation to January's Meeting
Santa Fe Buskers' Alliance is getting encouraging assistance from American Civil Liberties Union. Some of their Lawyer-members are planning to attend our next monthly meeting. Our objective is to secure lasting protection from decades-long illegal harrasment of street performers by Santa Fe Police.
January's newsletter will come out in a week, after our monthly meeting and direct action.If you did not receive December's or jerry Faires' fantastic ballad of Street Musicians ( just waiting for someone to add the music) then ask & we'll send it.
Direct action planned in observance of Martin Luther King Day: Monday, January 16, 2:30p.m. meet at corner Burro Alley & San Francisco St, play music up SFO St. to Pla za corner, back down to Burro, 1 hour. Meet at 2:00p.m. at unemployment office on De Vargas St. to leave vehicles & load instruments. This will be non-confrontational; if police show up, we will dialog in a friendly manner. We may not busk, i.e. open cases for tips, but rather just make a showing. info> 438-6636
January meeting info: Tue, 1/17, 7:00 p.m.; @ michael combs' house, 2816 (left) La Junta, 1 bl. south or west from Camino Carlos Rey & Siringo, 438-6636. All are welcome. We will hear from ACLU lawyers & also hear progress on draft of proposed street performers' guidelines; input welcome.
For Media info: M. combs @ 438-6636
Note new e-mail adress: email@example.com
Que Vive La Revolucion! Power to the People!
Santa Fe Buskers' Alliance.
I received this email letter from Michael Combs in November 2005. The Santa Fe Buskers Alliance was formed in December and started monthly meetings and newsletter (copy below) Contact: Email firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: 438-6636
I am a street performer who is inspired by your example and am preparing to legally challenge the City of Santa Fe for it's prolonged illegal harrassment of street performers. I've performered here off & on since 1985, have worked as a street performer in many No. American cities, and now my son is also busking, and being harrassed. I would appreciate any advice, links. Am intending to form a guild first, have a a member of ACLU as charter member (he's a novice musician, not a busker,) nd will proceed and keep you posted as events develop. Much inspired and encouraged by yousens example. I do well when allowed to work, but the door to my abundance has been slammed shut in my face, and my work is criminalized. All the high-sounding proclamations and documents and school textbooks aint worth the paper they was printed on if they don't translate into justice at the level of the street. I'll send you a few $$$ when I'm able, to support your website. Thanx, Michael Combs
There are many ways to change the situation.
1. Be sure to include non buskers in the support group. Find arts council directors, theater directors, lawyers, business owners, festival producers, citizen voters, school groups.
Arts Council may know Santa Fe Lawyers and other folks who can help you out--
New Mexico Arts is located at 228 East Palace Avenue on the 4th floor of the La Villa Rivera Building in Santa Fe, NM. New Mexico Arts can be reached by telephone, fax, mail and e-mail. If calling by phone from Santa Fe or outside the state, please dial 505-827-6490. In-state callers dial 1-800-879-4278. If you wish to send a fax, dial 505-827-6043. To reach us by mail please send all correspondence to P.O. Box 1450 Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504-1450. Staff:
2. Start petition with your demands and action items to obtain signatures from the public. Focus one petition drive on voters because this is the power source of council members.
3. Seek council member(s) who will support your cause through individual meetings. If none will support the issue, seek new council candidate(s) and have buskers rights group help the person's campaign. Become a political force.
4. Start media campaign. Seek newspaper writers, university newspaper writers, radio show hosts and television hosts to cover story. Create a press conference and press release about buskers rights campaign.
5. Obtain legal council to press issues in court. Even the threat of court action can change attitudes.
6. Research impact of buskers on cultural economic benefit and cultural heritage. Street festivals bring tourists and residents who spend money on food. lodging, transportation and goods. Buskers are part of all Shakespeare plays. There are many famous and historical buskers. Immigrant groups have busker traditions: Italians-hurdy gurdys; Irish-fiddle; Scottish-bagpipes; African-drums; Mexican mariachi bands. Present information in press release, legal documents, media package and public information package.
7. Research oppositions complaints and have researched answers with facts. May need to have technical support group on noise complaints. Businesses create all kinds of noise to do commercial activity. Buskers are usually less noisy than cars, trucks, busses, trains, and other commercial activity.
There is lots to do so try to organize a group to work on each of the tasks. There are many examples of this kind of work on the web site. The Boston Public Transportation MBTA battle web page will have a chart of volunteers, media reports, petition, legal work. The Boston Federal Court case will have sample legal documents, media reports and petition.
My web site also has extensive legal and historical information read:
All this can take several years of work. Changing attitudes takes persistence.
Good luck and keep me posted on your activities. I will host a web page on your progress.
Stephen H. Baird
Street Arts and Buskers Advocates
Community Arts Advocates, Inc., PO Box 300112, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130-0030
Telephone: 617-522-3407 Email: email@example.com Web: http://www.communityartsadvocates.org
Street Arts and Buskers Advocates: Celebrating self-expression as a basic human right essential for the healthy growth of youth, individuals and communities
Copyright © 1999-2014 by Stephen Baird