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Friday, 24 April 2015 12:36

Street Performance Ordinance Modified

By | News
Cover photo from Saratoga Public Artist’s Facebook page. Cover photo from Saratoga Public Artist’s Facebook page. Photo by Lawrence White

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Under the latest revisions to the proposed “busker,” or street performer ordinance, performers will no longer need to pay a fee, nor obtain a license to perform on downtown sidewalks. The revised ordinance was reviewed at a public hearing before the Saratoga Springs City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 21.

In introducing the latest version of the ordinance, Mayor Joanne Yepsen called it “…now much improved” and an outgrowth of meeting with downtown business owners, performers and residents to seek a balance of everyone’s interests. Assistant City Attorney Tony Izzo noted that this version has eliminated every reference to licensing or fees; the regulations that remain are primarily concerning decibel levels, distances between performers and permitted hours of performance, which were lengthened by two hours (from 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. to midnight). 

In the central business district, performers would be required to locate no more than 10 feet from the curb. The intent behind this is to keep business storefront access open.

Many of the revisions came as an outgrowth of the substantial objections that were raised at an earlier public hearing by both street performers and citizens who had concerns regarding restricting artistic creativity and first amendment freedoms, as well as the hardships licensing and fees would place on street performers. Others advocated that the city was placing restrictions on what was actually an asset to the city – a component of its vitality and quality of life. In this connection, it was notable that a Facebook page (Saratoga Public Artists) was established, with a goal of “Representing performers and fine artists who work in the public spaces of Saratoga Springs, NY.”

Susan Rivers, a member of the Mayor’s Arts Commission, commented that she felt that while the ordinance might have to be tweaked somewhat, “there has been substantial progress. I agree with the mayor that this was a great example of how the democracy should work. The key was bringing all concerned parties into the process.” She said.

The public comment period was extended until the next council meeting on May 5.

The complete ordinance has been posted on the city’s website, visit saratoga-springs.org.

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