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
Tele: 617-522-3407 TTY/MA RELAY 800-439-2370
(Detailed site index at bottom of page)
Tracking a Path Across the Globe
to Interview, Photograph,
Film, and Discover the Life and Motivations of the World’s Street Artists!
“Busking the System” follows the
real-life journeys of three talented young singer/songwriter guitarists
who come from around the U.S. to pursue their passion as “buskers” – or
street performers – in the bustling New York City subway system. Film
by Connecticut director/producer Justin Michael Morales, Coolhand
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
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
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 2000-2014
The following little historical references are just a glimpse of the depth and breadth of the creative spirit of the human race that blossoms on the street corners, market places, subway platforms and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.
Berger vs. The City of Seattle
Michael Berger, otherwise known as Magic Mike, had been performing at the Seattle Center since the 1980's where he twisted balloon creations and performed magic tricks for donations. Since 1978, the Seattle Center had 5 rules for regulating street performers. Berger was ejected multiple times for violating these rules, and in 1996 sued the city of Seattle, stating that the rules violate both the 1st and 14th ammendment. Details at his web site and outline below on this page: http://funandmagic.com/performersrights.html
- In 2003 Berger filed a lawsuit, complaining that the rules were unconstitutional. He was granted summary judgement and in 2005 was awarded $22,000 in damages. Federal Court Case No. CV 03-3238Z - Western Washington District Court Judge James Robart -- with legal judgement in April 22, 2005 for Magic Mike.
- The city of Seattle appealed, stating that the rules legally regulated the time, place, and manner of the performers.
- On January 9, 2008 a 2 to 1 vote overturned the previous decision made in 2005 and the regulations were ruled to be constitutional. To see this case Berger v. Seattle, 512 F.3d 582 (9th Cir. 2008) click HERE
- See Seattle Post Intelligencer article: "Seattle Center limits on street performers OK'd -But critics call the appeals court ruling a blow to free speech." By PAUL SHUKOVSKY http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/346757_magicmike10.html
- Berger's attorney, Elena Garella, asked the appeals court to reconsider this decision based on the strength Judge Benzon's opinion. Benzon's vote was in the minority on the 2 to 1 vote, but she wrote a 50 page opinion asserting the inexcusable right to free speech, particularly in public parks.
- The case was reheard en banc on June 24, 2009. Out of 11 judges, 8 ruled that the regulations were unconstitutional, overturning the decision once again. Berger v. Seattle case 05-35752
- To see this case click at Federal Court web site: http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2009/06/24/05-35752.pdf
- To see copy of official PDF from this web site click HERE
- American Law Daily had nice article about lawyers: http://amlawdaily.typepad.com/amlawdaily/2009/06/davis-wright-helps-magic-street-performer-in-first-amendment-case.html
- Article in Seattle Times: Appeals court punctures Seattle's attempt to regulate balloon man -- The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals put a pin in Seattle's efforts to regulate balloon artist "Magic Mike" Berger and other street performers at the Seattle Center, reversing an earlier decision to find that the center's rules violate free speech. By Mike Carter
June 9, 2008: Jim Hinde, one of the founders of the Pike Place Marker Performers' Guild and icon of the Seattle street perfomers community died of a heart attack. His voice for integrity and honesty will be missed. Details at:
- Street musician Jim Hinde helped define Pike Place Market By Stuart Eskenazi Seattle Times staff reporter HERE
- Market busker sang his heart out By KATHY MULADY HERE
- A public memorial is scheduled for July 2, from 7 to 9 p.m. inside the Market's main arcade. Donations may be made to the Jim Hinde Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 21804, Seattle, WA 98111. The fund is to defray funeral costs, with remaining money to be given to veterans organizations.
David Michaels stopped from Busking on Seattle Ferries
David Michaels was stopped from performing harp music on Seatlle boat ferries.
"After more than 17 years of regular performing aboard the Port
Townsend/Keystone ferry and playing for some 50,000 passengers a year, I was
finally shut down in early August of 2007. Apparently based on just two
complaints, the Washington State Ferries broke with a long tradition of
allowing captain's discretion regarding busking, and issued a decree,
directed at me personally, to cease and desist in my activities, siting
security concerns. The local captains and dock agent were instructed to
follow their instructions. Oh, I'm still allowed to play, they will insist,
but I'm not to be allowed to leave my harp on board while disembarking to
scan my monthly pass, and am ordered not to make any money on state
property. My attempts to quietly appeal the decision and obtain official
permission or contract were stonewalled, so I agreed to be interviewed by
the press. Below are links to some of the various newspaper articles etc.
which contributed to an immense media storm...."
The original newspaper story:
This was picked up on the AP wire and appeared in major newspapers all over
the region. The most comprehensive article to date came out in the Port Townsend Leader
on 9/12 :
David Michaels firstname.lastname@example.org Web site: http://www.purnimaproductions.com/
Performance Locations North America
Copyright © 2005 by Jim Page
One day in 1974 I was playing downtown in front of Oliver's Meats on lower Pike Street. A motorcycle cop came by and stopped, walking up to me with a business-like look on his face. He said, "You can't play here without a permit," and I said, "I'll go get one." "You can't," he said, "you're not blind," and he rode off into the traffic flow. I packed up and headed to City Hall to find out what he was talking about.
What I discovered was that there was an old law on the books in Seattle that said it was illegal to play music on the sidewalk for the purpose of soliciting donations without a permit, but the only permits were for "disabled" people. So instead of maiming myself I decided to see what I could do to change things...
The first step in this sort of thing, of course, is publicity. I went to the PI building (Seattle Post Intelligencer). In those days you could walk right in and go to whatever department you chose. I went to the news room to talk to Rick Anderson. Rick was a good guy (still is) and he gave me his full attention while I told my story. The piece that came out the next day was called A License For His Permit, a title based on a song I was singing at the time. I also spoke with the editor of the University Of Washington Daily, who was a friend of mine. So the press support was in place.
Then I started having meetings with various politicians - city council members, etc. I even met with the mayor. Nobody had any objections to the idea so we arranged for an open city council meeting where the public could voice their opinions and then the council itself could decide. A date was set and I went to work on the publicity.
A week or so before the meeting I made up a bunch of quarter-page fliers that said "Jim Page In Concert At the Seattle City Council Chambers..." with the time and date, and I put them up in the parts of town where I was known. When the day came I headed downtown. The place was packed. I sang my testimony - a song I had especially written called "Now's the Time For Talking." It was the Watergate era and the song was based on the idea that public singing was like public talking and we needed all of that we could get. Then other people began to speak and they were all positive - even the police. In fact, the only person who was against it was from - guess where - the Musicians Union. But he was basically ignored and the meeting rolled to a conclusion. And when the council reached their decision it was for a change in the law to allow street music of all kinds. No auditions and no permits. Just go out there and play.
I have often thought that this would be much harder to do now. Seattle is a boomtown these days and big money likes to keep things orderly. Back then Seattle was unknown anywhere outside of the region and nobody really seemed to care too much one way or the other. There wasn't really much of an image to uphold. And so it was much easier for the people to have their way. I only hope that if some force ever decides to rescind that law, enough people will organize to keep it in place. We still need those streets to be open. And we still need that talk.
Jim Page, Greenwood PO Box 30198, Seattle WA 98103 USA (206) 525-3713 Email: email@example.com http://www.jimpage.net/
Copyright 1996-2005 by Magic Mike the Magician
Beginning in 1987, at the Waterfront Park, officers had begun rousting all performers and beggars along the pier, trying to use a 1987 ordinance against vending in a park. The officers said I could leave or they would confiscate all my equipment and money until the case was heard in court. I tried to get a license, but was told I by the City Engineer Department I could not have a street use permit. I tried to get a permit from the director of permits at Parks and Recreation. They denied me a permit. I tried to use their system but it wouldn't accept me. In the Spring of 1992, after five years of putting up with this, performing anyway and trying to dodge the police patrolling the pier, I went to the law library and saw that vendor laws didn't apply to street performers. I confronted the Chief of Police and his attorney, Leo Plotts. I said if the police tried to hassle me with a vending law I would take them to Federal Court for denying me my First Amendment rights to express myself in a public place. When I confronted the patrolman, Officer Miller, he told me he was being influenced by the Waterfront merchants who he said were paying him to keep the area clear of persons that were getting money. The merchants felt it was cutting into their daily till. I again called Mr. Plotts and they sent a Lt. Brown to the pier to make Officer Miller desist, after being hassled by him again, even though I told him of my agreement with his superiors. Officer Miller was transferred.
In the early 1990's Seattle Center began to treat all street performers who were busking with their hat out as vendors. They said we needed to have a permit to perform on the grounds. However, the permit was a contract issued by their Director of Contracts and Concessions. They wanted performers to set hours of operation from 11:00 AM to 6 PM, notify Seattle Center in advance if not coming, and a monthly fee of $300. A few performers agreed to this. I did not. Center security officers would try to chase me off for not having this permit. I made them call police, who informed them I didn't need to comply as I was performing for donations with my hat out. During this time a few balloon performers and face painters decided to get contracts with the Center, and began charging specific prices instead of voluntary donations. They became vendors.
I was told by police many times over the years that I couldn't perform magic and balloon art for children and adults for donations unless I had a permit or license. After trying to get a license and permit and being denied, I went to the Law Library in the Seattle Courthouse and researched all Local, State, and Federal Laws about it. There were NO laws about street performing, and the one's against begging were for the First Amendment. I then went to the chief of police and his lawyer and threatened to take them to court if the police on the pier threatened me again with a vendor law. The officer on the pier wouldn't obey they order so they sent a Superior Officer to the pier to personally brief the officers, when I called the next time they disobeyed him. All was fine for a two years.
Then at a festival at Seattle Center, they said all clowns and ballonists were venders and not performers. They even told people giving a Tarot reading on blankets to leave. A woman told me they took her cards away from her little six year old girl, who was playing with them, afraid she would give someone a reading. They did the same to many street performers that were not vendors, by "declaring" that they WERE vendors. I alone chose to rely on my knowledge of what was right and continued to perform. While being filmed for a TV news show, six police officers escorted me away, gave me a trespass ticket, and told me not to come back for a year. I came back the next day with a TV News crews walking behind me. We confronted the Festival manager, and the Seattle Center manager and I was reinstated, although others were not. At the Bite of Seattle, on the same grounds, 2 months later I was again confronted by the same officers, give a criminal trespass citation, and told to leave.
The citations were never given my day in court by the prosecutor. I began to work as a subscription salesman for the local newspapers, and began to manage the contract as Sales Manager. When that contract was over, two years later, I went back to the pier to perform and two officers gave me a citation for soliciting in a park. Two months later they did it again.
By Christmas I still had not heard from prosecutors, giving me my day in court. So, I filed papers on my own in Federal District Court naming the City and the police officers involved with violating my First Amendment Rights of Freedom Of Expression In a Public Place. They again didn't let it get into court, I settled for $7000 because I saw they had an out on a technicality, gave my attorney a third, and I gave $1000 to the Seattle Tibetan Sakya Monastery to help pay for their statue of a famous Buddhist Lama Magician who wrote The Tibetan Book Of The Dead and The Tibetan Book of The Great Liberation.
The City of Issaquah did this to me also in 1993 and I did the same process. They settled for $1800 and my lawyer got a third and I donated $500 towards the Monastery's statue. The festivals in the cities of Kirkland and Edmonds tried to also have me cease, but wiser and kinder police officers said there was no law against performng for donations in a public place.
Waterfront Park again
In September and October 1995, while performing in Waterfront Park, upon instigation from Seattle Aquarium management, I was again confronted by police who said I had to have a permit. The police issued two more criminal citations, this time for soliciting in a park. The cases still were not called. In January I left for San Francisco and one of the cases was called for April 1st. My public defender asked them to drop the case. They refused, telling him they definitely wanted to try this case. When they found out I had flown back they dropped the case on Wednesday, then decided to call it on Friday for Monday's court hoping I had gone back. When I appeared in court they dropped the case. April Fools!
I then found a lawyer, Peter Cogan, who would help me pro bono, and we filed 4 cases in Federal District court against the city and the police. The city settled for a total of $7000 on the 4 cases. Part of the settlement was that the City Attorney had to inform the police, the Seattle Center, the 3 Festivals, and Pike Place Market that performers asking for donations were not subject to vendor laws.
10/29/2003 OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE ON
CASE No. CV 03-3238Z filed in Seattle Federal District Court.
Seattle Center performer rules challenged in Federal Court as unconstitutional
A suit filed in Federal District Court this week charges Seattle Center with creating rules about street performers that are unconstitutional for a city park setting. Performers must wear photo ID's that is an invasion of privacy, the Center restricts free speech by content, and it restricts time and place in a situation that is not a pressing need. The rules are also arbitrarily enforced, according to the suit.
If a performer wants to move under a tree's shelter in the rain or strong sunlight they are prohibited from doing so under threat of revocation of their permit and being trespassed from the grounds. If a woman or a minor performer doesn't want their name known, if they don't wear their badge, they are also under threat of revocation of their permit and being trespassed from the grounds. Performers may not perform before 11am or after 10pm even though the grounds are open other times to the public. No more than two people are allowed to work in a spot. Permits are only available to performers who can apply between 9am to 11am Monday-Friday. In order to get the permit you must agree to terms that are unconstitutional on public property.
The suit was filed by Michael Berger, AKA Magic Mike. In 1996 he filed four Federal suits against the City. Seattle Center had police issue him trespass charges in 1993 for refusing to leave, after being told to stop making children balloon animals at Folklife and Bite of Seattle. Seattle Center prohibited about 2 dozen clowns, balloonists and face painters from suiting up that year during a crackdown on unlicensed vendors who sell trinkets on blankets during the festivals. They claimed that face painters gave out paint and balloonists gave out latex, thus wasn't performing. Magic Mike was the only one who felt he knew the law and he resisted. He was escorted into the police station and given a criminal trespass citation during Folklife, which was open to the public on public property. The city never brought the case to court. The same police trio, at the urging of Seattle Center, gave him a criminal trespass citation in July at the Bite of Seattle, even though he was performing in front of the Space Needle and not in the Bite. That same day they also arrested Greg, the one man band with wings, while he played the National Anthem, during the same Bite of Seattle and took him to jail in handcuffs, charging him with criminal trespass. In 1996 Magic Mike filed against the City in Federal District Court when attorney Peter Cogan agreed to take the cases on a pro bono basis. The City settled for $7000 and agreed to send a letter to Pike Place Market, Seattle Center, Folklife, Bite, Bumbershoot and the police that performers are not subject to vendor regulations even if in their performance they give something out or if they receive donations. The other two suits involved criminal citations he received at Waterfront Park in 1995 for performing in a park without a license or permit. He claimed none were needed. The City didn't call one case at all and dismissed charges on the second case. Attorney Peter Cogan filed in District Court again and the City settled with him on those also.
In 2002 rumors of impending regulations began to circulate at the Seattle Center. On numerous occasions in 2002 he warned Seattle Center security personnel that he would take them to court if rules about performing locations and ID's were put into place on public property. He warned Mike Anderson in January 2003 that not only were the proposed rules unconstitutional, but that the rules might also break the good faith in the Federal mandated mediation settlement he had with the City from the two 1993 incidents against Seattle Center.
He filed a Public Disclosure request on August 19, 2002 with the City Clerk and Seattle Center in order to get facts of impending rules. State law requires a response within days. They refused to comply. Six weeks later, after two calls to the city clerk threatening to cite the city for failure to respond, he received one unrelated document, a copy of the existing rules and not the proposed new rules or the request for property discription. When he obtained lawyer Elena Garella, she received over 500 pages in an identical disclosure request, about a couple hundred documents. The city is liable $5-$100 per document per day for failure to respond for the period of August 2002 to July 2003. The city had 60 days to respond to a claim for damages on the rules case also, to settle before it was to be filed in court, but they did not respond in any manner to that either.
As a side note, in July of 2003 Joe Fulton, a violinist, was arrested and taken to jail in handcuffs for performing on the sidewalk during the Ballard Seafood Fest because the festival complained he wasn't an authorized vendor. In October his case was dismissed, the judge not happy with the charge, since he was performing and not vending and was on public property. He will also be taking the City to court for damages.
Contacts: Elena Garella - Attorney at law
206 675-0675 firstname.lastname@example.org
Magic Mike Berger
NOTE: New Federal Court Case No. CV 03-3238Z - Western Washington District Court Judge James Robart -- with legal judgement in April 22, 2005 of $20,000 for Magic Mike Berger. Details at his web site: http://funandmagic.com/performersrights.html Note: City appealed the decison and a hearing was held in March 2007. Decision on Janauary 9, 2008 reversed the previous case 2-1 and ruled in favor of the city. Mike Berger is appealing case to full 15 Judge panel of 9th Circuit with support of ACLU. See Seattle Post Intelligencer article: "Seattle Center limits on street performers OK'd -But critics call the appeals court ruling a blow to free speech." By PAUL SHUKOVSKY http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/346757_magicmike10.html
Copyright 1996-2005 by Magic Mike the Magician
747 N 135TH ST. #227, WA 98133 Phone 206.632.7152 Web site: http://funandmagic.com/
Artis the Spoonman
Artis the Spoonman
Artis the Spoonman is a living myth. Since 1972 he has created a state-of-the-art cultural legend. From the sidewalks and bars of Seattle, San Francisco, Manhattan, Sidney, London, Dublin, Munich and Singapore, to the theatres of Broadway, the stages of International and National television and the recording studios of Frank Zappa and Soundgarden, his spellbinding, faster-than-the-eye-can-track spoonplaying has been a passionate rhythm enhancement for Rock, Fusion, Folk, Jazz, Bluegrass, Classical and Uncatagorizable music, virtually everywhere. His avante-garde percussion, coupled with his contagious spirit,will change your life- or at least your ideas on cutlery ...
1916 Pike Place, #12-377, Seattle WA 98101
Jonny Hahn - Street Piano
I first met Jonny at the University Illinois in Urbana in 1970s. He performed at local cubs doing cover songs, but really wanted to do his own material. He took to the streets and has settled in to the West Coast scene. Recently celebrated 25years of performing at Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market's piano man celebrates 25 years - by JOE FRYER / KING 5 News, February 16, 2011
Magic Mike Berger
Magic Mike the Magician
Magic Mike Berger, close-up, party magician and balloon animals for kids, adults, businesses in Greater Seattle. Magic Mike Berger is a magician for child and kid birthday parties, he also promotes reading. Call Magic Mike the magician for banquets, weddings, tradeshows sales meetings. Magic Mike Berger is a strolling magician for grand openings, special events. Magic Mike is a hit with all age groups. Affordable magic and balloon animal act any setting, any area in Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue and Puget Sound. Learn Magic Mike's magic necktie trick. Magic Mike the magician has performed in the Seattle area since 1980. See web site for video and audio clips.
747 N 135TH ST. #227, Seattle, WA 98133
Began playing guitar at 15. Went to New York in 1970, Seattle in '71. Changed street singing laws in '74. Went to Europe in '77, began touring and living abroad. Returned to Seattle in 1983 where he still lives.
After seeing him perform at the High Sierra Music Festival in the summer of '97, Rob Bleetstein of Gavin wrote: "Jim Page is a lyrical genius with a guitar. This man personifies the word 'free-flow.' Page takes to the mic and the song invents itself on the spot; his talent is a natural wonder."
And in any of the many countries, from the countless tours and stages he has played people say the same. "A truly amazing man...one of the great originals. Ignore him at your peril." - Hot Press, Dublin
Jim has been on the scene for more than twenty years and his reputation continues to grow. He has shared the stage with the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Dan Bern, Michelle Shocked, Leftover Salmon, Mickey Hart, J.J. Cale, Robert Hunter, Chuck Brodsky, and John Hammond. His songs have been performed by Christy Moore, Michael Hedges, John Trudell, The Doobie Brothers, Joanne Rand, Casey Neill, and (yes) David Soul.
Often cited for his biting political pieces he is in constant demand by the social movements of the day.
"More reminiscent of the Woody Guthrie I heard as a boy than anyone I've listened to in the intervening years" - Philip Elwood, San Francisco Examiner
Greenwood PO Box 30198, Seattle WA 98103 USA
Telephone: (206) 525-3713 Email: email@example.com
Street Arts and Buskers Advocates
Copyright © 1999-2014 by Stephen Baird