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Old 01-16-05, 07:09 PM   #1
Aaron Gregg
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Default Victoria, Canada

I need to do a little research and I need some help. Here in Victoria we have been paying $10 a year for a busking license. It was very small because the city just wanted to cover administration costs. Now a new non-profit committee is managing the harbour where we work and has increased the fee to $2000. Yes, a 200 fold increase. The crazy thing is there is only one pitch and no stage, no amps allowed, and show lengths are limited so as not to obstruct traffic.

I'm curious what other other places charge, I know of some fees but not many. And what do you get for your money. The interesting thing is we used to be on the smae kind of license as musicians, but now we're lumped in portrait artists - even though we are under the same rules as musicians, well even more restrictive ones because of the crowd size.

I just found this out the other day, and all the performers who work here in the summer aren't here. So I have to deal with some of it on my own. I'd like some information to present to our new bosses as I don't think they have any right now.

What's so shocking is they want to charge way more but do absolutely nothing else for us, actually less since they will no longer have guys walking around making sure the performers follow the rules (these guys were very nice and helpful).

Could you please tell me what you are charged for a season long permit, at a privately or publicly owned pitch and what you get in return for your buck.

Thanks,

Aaron Gregg

Last edited by Aaron Gregg; 01-16-05 at 07:44 PM.
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Old 01-17-05, 10:18 AM   #2
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Default Rules of the turf

http://www.cambridgema.gov/CAC/permits.html

http://www.mbta.com/business_t/pdf/S...pplication.pdf

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald...0461473.htm?1c

http://www.monash.vic.gov.au/forms/laws/busker1.pdf

http://communityartsadvocates.org/sa...vincetown.html

http://www.wellington.govt.nz/plans/...formance03.pdf


These should give you some information...hope it helps
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Old 01-17-05, 08:13 PM   #3
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Default Thanks, I've got lots so far

Thanks for the tips Frisbee. I don't want everyone to think I'm lazy. The first thing I did was search the forums here but got little. I went to the arts advocate site and got lots of links. I've now got fees for 11 pitches, although some don't have circle shows.

Harvard square - $40
Granville Island, Vancouver - $35
Old Montreal - $120
Quebec City - 120
Sydney - 40
Pike Place, Seattle - 30
Chicago - 50
Savanah, Georgia, 25
New Orleans - 25
Totonto Subway - 150
Boston Subway - 25

I'll likely be making a presentation to the new Board that oversears our pitch and the more ridiculous I can make $2000 seem the better. Is there any fee for the privately owned pitches at Pier 39 in SF, Harbourplace in Baltimore, or Faneuil Hall. The board in Victoria seems to be taking a more business-like, or for-profit approach and info about privately owned pitches would be bitchin.

Has any city jacked up rates with the intention of getting rid of bucking? I've heard of creating difficult rules to eliminate busking but not increasing fees.

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Old 01-18-05, 02:15 PM   #4
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Default Pier 39

There is no fee for Pier 39, there is an audition process and a requirement to have a 1 million dollar liability insuarnce policy which runs about $175 per year.

I am not sure of other locations though.

The streets in San Francisco are open to all...there is no permit system as far as I have seen and no enforcement of any such permit if there is one.

good luck with your arguments, being a privately held place they do have final say on fees and what they want to do. If they really do keep the fees at such an unreasonable level, it could be that they do not really want you there and they are making it nearly impossible for you and anyone else to stay.
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Old 01-18-05, 07:25 PM   #5
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Default They want us gone...

I have the fear they really want to get rid of us, but I'm being positive and hoping it's just a cash grab. The weird thing is the space is not really privately held. It used to be federal government property leased to the city but this year the government gave it to a new non-profit body that is managing the harbour. It was public property but now it's kinda private, and the new "owners" think they're god (i.e., omiscient and omnipotent).

Thanks for the SF info. Oh, and we need insurance now too, but didn't before.

-Aaron
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Old 01-18-05, 08:01 PM   #6
Byron Bertram
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Canada This is horrible

This is crazy Aaron. Just crazy. Is there anything I can do? This is insane.

Byron
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Old 01-18-05, 09:35 PM   #7
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Default Yep

Yes Byron, there is something you can do. There is going to be a meeting in a couple weeks, they haven't told me when yet, that you can come to. It's not really a meeting, more of a lecture, but we can ask questions of the teacher at the end and the more jugglers (or circle show artists) the better.

The head guy made mention at the last meeting that they want to have people move faster along the causeway, which is not a good sign. That scares me. Also Byron, any info you can dig up about how street performers benefit local businesses would be good. Oh, and tell Joel when you see him, which I know you'd do anyway.

-Aaron
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Old 01-19-05, 05:25 PM   #8
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Default I'll look into it

Hey Aaron I'm in New Zealand right now, and I won't be back till March, but Wellington City Hall has a great street performers guide line book for performing there. It's pretty strait forward as far as rules and what not, but it says in the front of the book that The City of Wellington greatly values street theatre as it brings forth and enhances the culture and entertainment values that the city wants to be known for. I'll get my hand on a few of them before I come back to Vancouver.

Good luck and I'll try to investigate here in New Zealand as well. What will happen with the commissionairs? Anyway of getting ahold of them and asking guys like Bruce to help put in a good word, as he has been monitoring down there for years.

Good luck again.

Keep in touch. I'll definietly be in touch with you when I get back.

Byron
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Old 01-21-05, 03:05 PM   #9
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Lightbulb

You might want to contact this guy:
http://communityartsadvocates.org/StreetArts.html
He did a lot for Boston.
Also, this past season here in NYC the South Street Seaport wanted to charge performes a $500 audition fee. There's a thread in here about it somewhere if you want all of the details but basically no one would pay the fee so they waived it this year with the idea of doing some kind of buskerfest thing. That also never happened. It was ridiculous to charge a fee when it was free to audition in the past.
Definately check out the sight for Stephen Baird.
Good luck.
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Old 01-21-05, 03:21 PM   #10
Aaron Gregg
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Default We're in Canada though...

I got some good info from the community arts advocates site. Since I'm in Canada the laws are very different so unfortunately I don't think the legal stuff would apply.

I went to see the mayor today. He actually keeps juggling balls in his desk and can do a reasonable cascade - he showed us. He said he doesn't want the new managers of the pitch to get rid of us but if they want to charge us extorionate rates he can't do anything about it. He said the new harbour management is all about business and they just want to get as much money as they can and we seem like a good target.

We could all refuse to pay the license fee and see what happens but I suspect they won't care. It seems we are viewed as an income source and nothing more.
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Old 01-21-05, 05:28 PM   #11
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Default $2000

$2000 is certainly the most expensive permit fee I've ever heard of.
However, What if you were one of a very few number of people to pay it? You would have the pitch pretty much to yourself, and you could use the price of the permit in your hat line to get your audience to pay more. The fee would certainly weed out anyone who isn't serious about their busking. I'm not all that familiar with Victoria's scene, but from an admin stand point I've never heard good things. Don't get me wrong, I think the fee is outrageous, I'm just giving you a more optimistic point of view.


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Old 01-21-05, 09:24 PM   #12
Byron Bertram
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Default more ideas

I'm sure you've thought about it Aaron but hound the press, and get petitions going, as well as contact numbers of management of the property that you can give to people that they can call to complain. I'm sure they just want to weed out the crusty's while as the same time make money from us, which I can understand, but $2000 is retarded. $100 or even $200 is reasonable as it would weed out a few of the not so desirebles, but $2000 is ludicrious.

I'm sure a lot of hounding from the Vendours/artists about us making money (especially Dean) and them paying a lot for a license didn't help either, but I think we need to point out that we are not selling goods, we are providing free entertainment by donation, which is a big difference, and point to the fact that we add a massive amount of vibrancy to the success and ambiance of Victoria in the summer months and over time the businesses would suffer as a result of our disaperance, which is a result soley based on a ridiculous license fee.

Try and get Milestones, and The Empress or other surronding businesses on our side as well.

Also a big demonstation should start to be orginized. The people who run the causeway probably don't think we have the orginization skills to fight this as we're just a bunch of hippy drop out bums and not professionals who take this seriously. We need to show them that they're saddley mistaken.

Let's get a Victoria Street Perfomers Union going
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Old 01-21-05, 10:23 PM   #13
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Lurk Passive aggression, politics, publicity and embarrassment

Your being viewed as a potential revenue stream perhaps and the $2000 in real terms removes street performance as an option for most.
They are trying to class you as a retailer of performance and will end up with a balloon guy who sees $2000 as a good investment.
If the mayor declines to offer to help then obviously the wind is not blowing your way.
Mayors are people persons, of course he's going to make sympathetic noises but the only thing that really matters to him is that he gets voted in again.
He has said basically that he's powerless to affect the situation.
You need.
a reporter
a list of the people or person who made the decision. (people is better than person because you can tar them all with the same brush and promote descent from within)
A well written press release spinning it that due to this new regulation made by these specific people the community is being robbed of a resource that provides variety, culture and innovation to the public.
Quantify it, estimate how many international performers pass through a season, estimate how many local performers , now working internationally, will have lost their home pitch.
Estimate how many shows there were last year, with crowds being offered free shows to enhance their time at the venue.Compare that to the number none and put that firmly at the doorstep of FIRST the mayor (use the "I'm powerless" quote) and then whichever committee was involved. Get a small range of people to be your supporters (handpicked) a married mother, a retiree, a sympathetic stallholder would be good too, Have quotes from them and their phone numbers in the notes at the bottom of the press release. Along with the mayors and the admin people
Don't frame it in anger, frame it in resigned sadness and let the readers get angry.
If they even get to read it at all. The reporter will contact the mayor and if you've done your homework and given the press above average content with sympathetic spin all packaged and ready to go. Then some advantageous change will more than likely happen.
Don't just go to the most local rag if there is one, ie a surburban newspaper, the venue may well be one of their larger clients for advertising and they will be less inclined to want to disturb that. Go to all the main city papers and fax them on the same day. Make yourself and your supporters available.
Just my thoughts.
Oh and as an alternative to a '200 fold increase'
try a 19 900% increase (nearly 20000%)
($10=0 $20=100% $30=200% $1000=9900%etc)
good luck and well done so far

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Old 01-22-05, 06:13 PM   #14
Aaron Gregg
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Default Very good points...

First to Dan: I don't believe the $2000 will reduce the number of performers tremendously. I should note that they are ramping the fee up over a few years and this summer it will 'only' be $950 (as long as you had a permit last year) and will increase to $2000 over the next two years. I counted that we had a total of 13 performers who were on pitch for more than a few weeks last year. Some might see that if they pay $2000 they should stay for a while to get return on their investment. Others like it here and are so used to working here in the summer they don't know what else to do. Is $950 gonna keep Byron off the pitch?

Martin: You reitterated the statment I've been using to describe the situation. We are being viewed as retailers of a performance. Too true. The board and all the people involved in creating the fee system posssibly never even thought about the difference between a busker and a portrait painter. I will try and show them the difference but I'm not sure they'll listen.

I have discussed the 'going to the press' thing with many people and I am going to wait and see how this board responds to my contention that we are VERY different from vendors. I don't want to create an antagonistic relationship with the managment unless (until) other methods fail.

As the harbour management doesn't seem to have to report to anyone I think there would need to be a great deal of public pressure to change their minds. Another group who was screwed over by the Harbour Authority did all the protesting and press releasing and so on and got nowhere. I know I don't sound optimistic but I'm trying to determine what the harbour authority cares about.

One of the primary principles of the Harbour Authority is adjusting fees to market rates. I think the best initial action is to illustrate that the market rate for what we do is $100 for a license. If I can convince them that the fee is in conflict with their rules they will likely change it.

Thanks for the support,

-Aaron
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Old 02-24-05, 05:14 AM   #15
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Default Update...

I'll give you an update on the situation in Victoria, for those who care, and also to solicit advice.

The performing fee has been reduced to $360 a year, thanks largely to press coverage that painted the new Harbour Authority as evil nasties. We also require insurance (which hasn't been needed before) on top of the $360. But there is also a bigger problem.

Our pitch is now under seige by portrait artists who claim that the traffic blockage created by our street shows is ruining their business. We do create congestion towards the end of a prime-time show but it's not like it happens all the time, which they are claiming. They want to create breaks between shows and shorten the maximum show length. Last year we cut two shows out of the 11 that we can get off (there's only one pitch) but they want more. There are too many people on pitch through the season for the pitch to remain viable if we cut another show - one show a day is no good since most of them suck (i.e., I can only dream of obstructing pedestrian flow).

It's slowly becoming a juvenile shouting match as myself and the portrait artists lobby the harbour authority so that we're not crippled by restrictions. There is also the possiblity of us not being able to solicit, as in we can't suggest to passersby that they watch our show - amplification has never been permitted. There seems to be no acknowledgment by anyone that we're a huge draw for the area - just that we screw it up for everyone else. Sorry if I'm going on a bit but I'm the sole representative for circle shows to the harbour authority and I was sh*t on for four hours today.

I'm sure 9 to 5 would be more pleasant,

-Aaron
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Old 02-25-05, 01:12 AM   #16
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Default The Battle of Victoria

Hey Aaron, I'll be back in a week and Sharon will be back in April. Hopefull we can help out when we get back. I'm sure having other performers at the meetings will help.

Let me know when the next meeting/s are and I'll try to get over for some of them.

Byron
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Old 02-25-05, 02:18 AM   #17
Aaron Gregg
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Default Too late Mr. Jetsetter

Good to hear from you my little german boy.

All the public meetings have passed and now it's just committee meetings made up of the representatives of each group, and we only have one rep: my fed up self. You can help with the insurance thing though.

One other thing, I need to know more about what has happened at Granville Island as Dean and Ian want to use their busking rules as a model for Victoria. Any details about loss of shows and rules of conduct would be appreciated. I've got a copy of their rules in my hand but I want to know what has caused problems and whether you were allowed to loudly announce your shows and tell people to stop, you know, like a normal street show.

Hope you've had some good times.

-Aaron
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Old 03-08-05, 10:22 AM   #18
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Default

Thre is no such thing as busking permit in New Orleans, as long as you work for tips you don't need one.
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