View Single Post
Old 06-18-09, 11:41 PM   #6
Mr. Josh Weiner
jugglerjosh's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: New York City
Posts: 132
Blog Entries: 131
Default Edinburgh Street Performers Letter of Support.

(Posted on FACEBOOK: Edinburgh Street Performers)

To Whom It May Concern,

My name is Josh Weiner, and I am a New York City street performer since 1990. In 1998 I visited Edinburgh and stayed after the EJC Festival for one week. I performed behind St. Giles Cathedral, and the local performers were quite kind and respectful.

I would perform at times when a large group of regular acts were in queue for the afternoon. There was a Drum Group, a man who Stacked Dice & had a man walk on him lying on a bed of nails. There were dancers. Musicians. A comedian. Lindsay the rope walker/violinist was also there.

All the performers were courteous and allowed me a fair share for the entire week. It was an oral agreement, with a handshake. I was, and still am, quite poor, and they allowed a visitor from the USA to work without fee or local harassment. I looked quite asian and young perhaps a runaway teenager, and there were no moments of unwelcome confrontation.

So, thanks to you, the Edinburgh performers.

I returned to the USA, and still work the street, legal in parks, even subways without permit, protected by the US Constitution Bill of Rights.

I also perform with two organizations: The South Street Seaport and MUNY (Subway Performers).

The Seaport in NYC did start a $500 per performer annual request that was stopped due to protest and local petition (Signed by dozens of performers, professionals, local and even Civil Liberties Lawyers and local Union organizers like Local 802) and negotiation several years ago. Buskers are non-union, not on official payroll, and sign a hold harmless agreement to work in designated organized locations. But business certainly changed since 9/11/2001.
Many stores closed, many left the city.

I have since organized a festival, in 2005 in post 9/11 NYC. It took many hours of calls and paperwork, but the festival was granted sponsorship by LOMA and a banquet was held, which was a thank you and small stipends for all performers, and then down to business for all the downtown tour groups and stores in the area involved in their business networks. Although I felt "out of the loop" of the large business deals, I was genuinely thankful for the hands given to poor struggling artists and working class performers simply surviving with the skills and crafts they still possessed.

The past years have been a erosion of our Busking Rights. The Season is shorter, and the business deals with a River-To-River music festival, or beer tent, are completely marginalizing and overshadowing pure Busking. Each year I send a petition for an annual festival and it is not considered. The property is struggling to remain in business. Our "Busker's Hall of Fame" has left he property. Our hours are regularly, locations on the property are blocked due to special events and several performers were not welcomed back onto the roster.

I was also arrested later in 2005 working with the proper MUNY permit and held in jail for 48 hours.

I continue in good faith.

I am financially ruined and facing housing court to keep my apartment (flat). I am thankful for the smaller hats, and simply facing the reality of basic needs.

Peaceful Days & Safe Travels. I hope reading this is helpful. I hope you win. Organize!

Both Seaport and MUNY have paid organizers who designate location and times. There is also an audition process. No performer accepted in the program pays a fee to work. We get no salary, we are not on payroll. We are a tax write off of some sort.

Sincerely, Josh Weiner, Performer 1977-2009. NYC Busker 1990-present.
Josh Weiner
Juggling & Related Circus Arts
2005 Busker's Hall of Fame
The South Street Seaport NYC 1992-2008
MUNY 2005-present

Columbia University TC, Mathematics M.A. 2012
CCNY Mathematics B.A. 2007
CCNY Jewish Studies B.A. 2007

Just say no to drugs
jugglerjosh is offline   Reply With Quote