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An Ordinance to Curb Street Performance in Chicago Draws Criticism

Chicago Aldermen are considering an ordinance to outlaw street performances audible from more than 20 feet away, but in a segregated city, some fear that a quieter downtown might be more unwelcoming.
February 28, 2017, 1pm PST | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Coral Sand and Assoc

It's not uncommon to hear the sound of drum sticks slamming against plastic buckets on downtown streets. Teams of "bucket boys," usually young African-American men, play for passers by on white five gallon pails in some of the city's most touristy streets. But these performances may become illegal soon if some Chicago Alderman pass a city law they've drawn up. "The ordinance, introduced by Ald. Brendan Reilly (Ward 42) would have prohibited the emission of "noise" by performers that can be heard within 20 feet on two of downtown's busiest stretches," reports Stephen Gossett for Chicagoist.

While Gosset and the Red Eye have published articles supporting street performers, the Tribune wrote in support of the ordinance, suggesting that street performers are more a nuisance than an asset. But Gosset writes, "Chicago's vibrant and imaginative busker tradition is worth honoring and we should be careful about indiscriminately curbing so many voices." Having seen the many ways in which the city has gotten in its own way, curbing rather than encouraging what should be a walkable engaging city, I completely agree.

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Published on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 in Chicagoist
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