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Old 03-22-12, 09:38 PM   #1
vodvill
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Default Busking Permit fees at Festivals

I have been producing a busking festival in the US for over four years. Each year we spend a lot of time and money on marketing to get people to show up so our Buskers can make good hats. We have a list of hired acts at set pitches but have allowed any act to show up and take a space downtown that we don't use.

After struggling financially each year we have decided to ask the non hired acts to pay a small ($30) fee for the 3 days to help out and at least acknowledge that they get something from our festival. For this they get a permit and a listing on the web site about their act.

I have heard many arguments on whether this is legal, ethical, justified, etc. and I am interested in the majority opinion on this forum. Please tell me what you think.
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Old 03-22-12, 10:13 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vodvill View Post
We have a list of hired acts at set pitches but have allowed any act to show up and take a space downtown that we don't use.
Is it public space you've "left" for them? Have you payed for or rented said space? If not then you don't really have exclusivity to it... you could make your case and ask these acts to contribute but I don't see how you could force the issue. You may just have to deal with the Fly pitching.
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Old 03-23-12, 12:10 AM   #3
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It is public space so the word permit is not entirely appropriate. In the end We will not stop anyone from performing, we just want some support for making the event work for everyone.

Is that too much to ask?
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Old 03-23-12, 08:53 AM   #4
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In my opinion:

I'm not familiar with your festival or your cities bylaws around performance in public space... But... I would say that the best course of action is to clearly mark which areas pitches from the Busker festival. Make P they have flags or a marker on the ground to show that these are FESTIVAL PITCHES. Since you did do the work to bring the crowds there and protect the interest of the event.

Outside of that, it's great to see up and coming Buskers or people trying to learn from Buskers on the circuit trying to rub elbows with other Buskers. In some ways, this is how they develop and get valuable feed back which will then enrich our city when these home-grown entertainers hit the streets and liven your downtown core!

If your pitches are clearly defined, I would suggest that -outside of those pitches- perhaps you could set up 1 or 2 community pitches where you could encourage local buskers to apply and be assigned a time slot since you will be working to encourage your crowds to support some local talent and helping build their pitch. Maybe, instead of charging the Buskers to use it, maybe you can get additional sponsorship or grants to foster local talent. And you could also program in some workshops with Buskers to teach juggling and other skills. It may not be something you make money off of, but it can be a great additional feature for your festival which will give people a real sense of ownership and interaction with the performers (and perhaps change the way people think about Buskers in your area). This may actually give you something to look for additional grants for public education and community involvement- or at least sponsorship. You can check out our website to see what kind of workshops I'm suggesting at http://stiltguys.com.

But, outside of that, a major part of Busking is the guerrilla spirit of looking for an opportunity at the right time and making a crowd from nothing. So, at a festival which celebrates this style of theatre, is likely going to attract some things you can't control. I don't think charging Buskers for a permit would be the best course of action. But, if you can make them part of the event, then you and the local Buskers will be working together and making the event even bigger!

I hope that helps a bit.
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Old 03-24-12, 10:15 PM   #5
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Thanks for input. It is a hard balance between getting the financial support to make a free festival work and providing opportunities for new performers. I will take all this into consideration.

We are also going to provide a busker development workshop taught by a seasoned vet. There will be a charge for that but it will automatically get a performer a scheduled space at the event.
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Old 03-26-12, 10:50 AM   #6
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It's all in the packaging. Instead of trying to enforce an unenforcible fee encourage crasher's to help support the fest by donating a % of their hat. You may actually get more and it might come across better. Supporting the fest with a % of the take isn't an unreasonable request.
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