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Old 08-15-08, 06:54 PM   #1
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: U.K./Europe/Asia/NZ
Posts: 130
Default Pitch regulations - how they run round the world and how they should!!

I wrote this essay in response to a Forum being set up for a new pitch/way of working in Calgary
Never been there - but thought i'd share some experience and as its so long I figured it might help more than just Calgary!!
If you guys have anything to add on the speciific regs for different places or more detail on the ones I wrote about (such as contact details for relevant authorities, links to fellow local performers etc.. - im sure it could help fellow performers
Sit tight!!

Hi there Karen
We dont really know each other, but as a fellow streety on the International circuit - I want to applaud you for your efforts.
This is obviously a sensitive time for busking in Calgary, if you can get it right now - its a massive boon to local/national/international performers, the local community creatively, the local economy and well... locals and tourists entertainment wise.
Im sure there are many other benefits that are less able to be readily identified, but just as important.
However if it goes wrong - that would be a real shame!!!
I think your idea of holding a forum is a great one - to get as many interested parties involved and have open discussion as to the issues involved. I wont be there, as I am working as a Community Circus trainer in NZ currently, but there are a few things i'd like to mention:
I come from England originally and in most pitches, there are no requirement for I.D. cards, form filling, or bureaucracy. It works perfectly well and it has been going for a VERY long time. The pitches Police themselves, as local performers want to look after their work place. An obvious exception from the rule is Covent Garden where youre required to audition and there are limitations to performances. This is because its a 'privately' owned area. I may not like the restrictions - but I kind of understand them. It has worked well in the 'Garden' but it has excluded me and as you maybe aware the rules are trying to be changed again on time limits, which will effect peoples pockets and the publics entertainemnt.
If ID cards are 'necessary' to get the pitch going then they are - but be carefull. How will these cards be produced in the future? who will oversee them? How easy will they be to obtain? what will you be required to show to get one and therefore be able to work?
How, where will the info be stored and who will have access to it.
As an International performer ive found that in many countries im unable to share my entertainment with the people as there are SO many regulations to obtaining a permit. Here are some examples that have directly effected me:
Brisbane, Oz - Permit required. In one pitch, auditions for permits are held only once a quarter or less, there is no amps, or dangerous objects.
Other pitch does allow 'dangerous objects' + amps with audition. Not as difficult to arrange.
In another you are required to have 5,000,000 Public liability insurance. I of course hold International PL, but in the UK you can obtain over 2 million£'s! Theres no 'DO"
Byron Bay, Oz - Permit required. Dangerous items allowed with PL insurance (within my limit), audition (easy to arrange) and safety equipment for Fire performance - All good.
BUT not so good - payment for 'audition' and permit per month, 2 local performers signatures (I was OK as I have a good International network and had fortunately performed with residents - but for another just passing through...??), passport and curent working visa, 1st Aid certificate! I got a permit - but it was ALOT of hoops to jump through and was only worth it because I planned on staying some months. Speaking with locals they told many tales of how the number and variety of buskers had diminished over time, to the detriment of Byron.
Circular quay, Sydney, Oz - Permit required, auditions for 'Dangerous object' difficult to arrange and obtain
Toronto - permit requiredThere is an audition for the main pitch only once a year. No permit NO play!! "Dangerous items' allowed
Heres some examples of positive use of the rules:
Most places in NZ - they have permits there officially, but they only require visiting performers to obtain them if there has been a complaint and the rangers deem there to be a 'risk', in effect this means anyone can work the pitch, but if one person is creating a nuisance - they will be required to register and if complaints persist - banned. You are free to perform anywhere, wit ' dangerous items', amps etc.. but if youre deemed to be dangerous or annoying a permit will be required and you shall be curtailed.
Montreal - In one pitch you are 'required' to obtain a permit, but if you are 'visiting' the pitch (say a weekend) it is not enforced. It therefore gives one the opportunity to perform short term without being required to pen-push. The permits are easy to obtain. There is a great relationship between the local govt? ranger and the local performers - they police the pitch and bring to the attention of the permit person, any issues etc... They are so often the ones in the know and both sides seem to really help the other.
The other pitch is more stringently regulated, with permits only being granted at certain times of the year from what I understand. This excludes visitors
Wow - LONG email. But I thought i'd give you some examples of the myriad of ways the systems work...or dont!
and thats without even going into the Politics of the Pitch draw!!!
When ive got a spare few hrs I might write about those!!!
I hope this helps you
I would make some recommendations from my point of view:
Allow amps at a reasonable level. MOST performers use amps and mics, otherwise youre shouting and it effects the quality of the show and one of the most important tools of our trade - the vocal cords! Music is also an integral part of many performers shows.
Allow 'Dangerous items' - These arent dangerous. Ive been performing FireShows for 7 yrs I must have done over 1000 shows, and havent had a serious accident. The only person ive ever injured is myself and ive never burnt anything down. I KNOW that with due diligence, safety consciousness, a reasonable level of skill and a small amount of commonsense, Fire, whips and knives (blunt juggling "knives'' that couldnt cut a cabbage!!) are NOT dangerous. It would be great to get some statistics from those pitches that allow "DA's" and see actually how many accidents theyve had - I bet its close to 0% and if there are accidents im sure its less than happen in any other part of the city!
If its absolutely necessary get the performer to audition, so the local council can be assured of the Commonsenses of the individual - but let it be easy for the auditions to be carried out NOT once a year!! and not too many regs to go with the audition.
Stay clear of 'permits' FULL STOP. The pitches so often Police themselves and the local performers are going to make sure that the pitch is clear of stupid, dangerous, loud, drunk, drugged people. Its in their best interest. Thats one of the great things about having a pitch. It creates a nice place for peoepl to congregate - Thats what we want!
If you start with no permits you have an alternative to goto if problems occur. If you start with permits being lawed - its not going to encourage performers and if any problems occur theres no other avenue for authorities to go.
If permits become a necessity make sure they are easy + free/cheap to obtain
Well thats me done - That was somewhat MUCH larger than I anticipated upon starting
I hope your forum and the 'festival' go well and I hope to come visit your freely run and wonderfull pitch sometime in the not too never future
Good luck and heavy hats

May your Fire always burn brightly

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