Is Licensing Street Performers A Good Solution?

Would a city ordinance that regulates the bleak street performing scene in the City of Baltimore be an impetus for its growth and enliven the city streets? Or would it have a crippling effect?
February 9, 2004, 10am PST | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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The Baltimore City Council has proposed an ordinance that would regulate and impose licensing fees on their desolate street performing scene with hopes that the added structure would encourage more performers to their city. The council believes that by regulating the scene, the performers would be immune to police harassment, and the overseeing board would be able to spread the entertainers throughout the city, allowing them to thrive. Others, including current Baltimore buskers, believe that with so few of them on the streets now, it would be an unnecessary intrusion and would push performers from the streets. "An increased number of street performers has the potential to do more than liven up drab sidewalks. Urban-planning expert William Whyte argued in his 1990 book City: Rediscovering the Center that street performers can make cities safer by making streets more social and less isolated."

Thanks to Brad Chranko

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Published on Wednesday, February 4, 2004 in Baltimore City Paper
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