On May 8th NYC will start enforcing rules that will effectively ban buskers from Washington Square park and most areas of the other parks.
Merriam-Webster,busk·er noun \ˈbəs-kər\
Definition of BUSKER
: a person who entertains in a public place for donations
— busk intransitive verb
Origin of BUSKER
busk, probably from Italian buscare to procure, gain, from Spanish buscar to look for
First Known Use: 1857
Of all of the things to take the character out of this amazing city this one I take personally. We’ve seen music venues shut down usually due to increasing rents, we’ve seen the increase of big box type stores further squeezing out any Ma and Pa opportunities and a general influx of blah and bland-o, brand-land money. DON’T KILL THE FLAVOR! (join my cry to the heavens). My earliest memory of NYC street performance was of steel drum players in the subway in the 80’s reflected soon after in the soundtrack for the excellent film, ‘The Brother From Another Planet’. I don’t see how a performer performing with an open case that happens to have money in it counts as solicitation….it’s up to the listeners discretion to pitch in a coupla bucks or not, isn’t it? There was a Federal lawsuit filed by Robert Lederman of ARTIST (Artists’ Response To Illegal State Tactics) in this regard. Here are a couple of neat links, an interview from 2008, http://gothamist.com/2008/11/24/robert_lederman_artist_activist.php and an article from 2011 http://thevillager.com/2011/12/15/dont-ban-the-buskers/. We live in this amazing time of information trading hands at an incredible rate and yet we are still the last ones to know what we have wrought…like the giant plastic garbage patch, twice the size of Texas in the Pacific somewhere between Hawaii and San Fransisco. We’ve know plastic is “bad” for a while but, it seems, if we’re not confronted constantly or at least inconvenienced by things then they may as well not exist. Artists like Robert Lederman are often prescient, as he was during the Giuliani administration. Artists are a cultural resource…so how can the city push them around under the “quality of life” umbrella? It feels as though we are often regretfully looking back despite having had the facts and the opportunity when the moment most called for action. We can engage in something destructive like a preemptive war why can’t we protect, preserve, cultivate, defend, rejoice in the positive things which enrich our lives, like the arts, before they are sanctioned, sold, restricted and sullied? I guess this is just the way of people…never knew what you had until it was gone.
I FORGOT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING!!!! Here’s a petition I signed against the ban, https://www.change.org/petitions/mayor-bloomberg-and-parks-commissioner-white-repeal-the-park-restrictions-on-performers-musicians-and-artists