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Topic: Victoria To Skin Buskers
Message: Posted by: okito25 (Jan 29, 2005 01:52PM)
I was at the local card conjurors meeting last night, and came out hopping mad! It was announced that our fine city, and I use that term loosely has handed our busking pitches over to the harbor authority, and in turn they have now enforced a $650.00 license for the Summer, and yet all the same restrictions apply. Victoria has always been a wonderful place to set up for the summer. But it only seems to get weirder and weirder.

They even cut one of the biggest festivals, a freebie for everyone in the city and tourists. They stated it was becoming too comercial. What's up with that! On one hand they say we want to encourage the talents of the local entertainers. Let's keep it non-comercial, ie I cannot set up a little magic sales session after my show, yet we are going to charge the entertainers $650.00 to play here, and you only have a two hour a day "frame" when you can get your show off.

In the past couple of years a few of us have worked really hard to establish a "magic pitch," an awsome scenic little spot in the shade that only magicians seemed to work. Everyone got along sharing the best times of the day, and shows that were totally suitable for the whole family, we will be havig a meeting on this Febuary 11. We hope to kick some butt. Anyone else have these kinds of issues with their city?

All I know is it is another discouragement. One suggestion was to move out of the downtown "tourist" core, and in time you would attract tourists to the hidden skid row area, an area the city really wants to put a blanket on during tourist season.
I agree with the idea that we want to eliminate some of the riff raff. I would agree perhaps to a 100 to 200 dollar license, but $650? They have rocks in their heads.

Thanks for listening.
Message: Posted by: Mario Morris (Jan 29, 2005 07:39PM)
You have to tackle this full on. I am sure you can form a sort of Buskers Union and refuse to pay. Bust one bust us all kind of thing.
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Jan 29, 2005 09:01PM)

If it is $650 for the season and it is a good pitch (i.e. $100 per show), I'd pay it and be quite happy about it.

I would pay $1650 per year to play Fanueil Hall here in Boston if I could be guaranteed a two hour slot per day.

I am not saying it is right that they should do that or even that it is fair. But if it is a hot pitch, I'd pay the money.


Message: Posted by: business (Jan 29, 2005 11:38PM)
I pay $6000 for the Summer Season. Count your blessings. Grin and bear it.
Message: Posted by: Mark Rough (Jan 29, 2005 11:52PM)
When you think about it, you can earn the money back in a relatively short time. I have to shell out $200 semi annually to use my table at my pitch. I hated it at first (and would still love to keep the dough) but I have learned to live with it.

Message: Posted by: The Mighty Fool (Jan 30, 2005 01:36AM)
On 2005-01-30 00:38, business wrote:
I pay $6000 for the Summer Season. Count your blessings. Grin and bear it.
[/quote]Where in the name of googli-moogli do you work???
Message: Posted by: Chance (Jan 30, 2005 06:12AM)
Hey! Fellas!! Over Here!!!

Ya think maybe -- just MAYBE -- the folks charging the fees maybe also come here and read these messages??

Many festival/pitch organizers are retired and/or failed professional entertainers. Ever heard the addage, "Those who can, do -- and those who can't, teach."? Well, in this case, replace "teach" with "become event organizers," and I think the point speaks for itself.

Something to think about as you tie the rope around not just your own necks, but mine as well!!
Message: Posted by: business (Jan 30, 2005 08:49AM)
In answer to the Mighty Fool, I work in a very busy spot. I have exclusive use of the location. No other magician or entertainer can work there. I can work from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. 7 days a week, so I don't have to worry about the two hour limitation.

I am not suggesting to anyone that they should pay $6000 for a Summer location. I have a unique situation. I am merely saying that $650 is no big deal and is in fact worth it if only for the fact that you can work without being hassled by the police or other authorities. I think being able to work in peace makes it worth it.

However, I do agree that only being allowed to work for 2 hours isn't such a good thing. As a ruthless and sneaky operator I know what I would do about that. I would go to the powers that be and offer them $1500 for the Summer if I were allowed exclusive use of the place and all the other magicians were waved goodbye.

I wouldn't be very popular at the local magic club but life can be hard sometimes.
Message: Posted by: Mario Morris (Jan 30, 2005 09:38AM)
Yes do pay it if you wish, but I say fight while you can, don’t just hand over your cash like a sucker. At the end of the day this is your work place. If you suddenly had to take a pay cut, well you're going to have some objections. You are providing a great service that should bring a sense of class to street life. The big question I will first be asking is,"Is it legal? Then is it fair?"

This might be a British thing, but I know of at least one place where the Buskers have jointly refused to pay a penny and have not done so for two years now. Once you do start paying that’s it, there will be no turning back.

Business: I can see the sense of what you're doing, but you got to be careful as you already pointed out. What goes around comes around.
Message: Posted by: JoeJoe (Jan 30, 2005 12:48PM)
You said this was announced at your local card meeting ... have you confirmed this? You said they have decided to "now enforce" - was this a fee that has been in place, and they just now want to collect it? Or did someone from your meeting call and ask and that is what they were told? The first rule of sales ... get more info!

Is this pitch spot public property? If so, I would suggest you get together with fellow buskers and get an attorney. The courts are for the most part, favorable to street performers. Another route would be to take the issue up with city council.

Of course, if the pitch spot is worth $650 ... it might we best to pay it. That would reduce the number of buskers making it an even more valuable spot.

But the number one thing to do (and I know that it is difficult) is to remain calm. When running on an emotion like anger, people tend to slip up and make mistakes. I like to seclude myself from the rest of the world when I am angry so that I can calm down and think more logically and clearly.

I was spitting mad at my city when informed that "if any money exchanged hands" (ie: a tip) I would be arrested on the spot. I was ready to fight this to the death ... but after I calmed down, I realized it would be better for me to simply move to private property where I was more than welcomed. The location I found is more upscale and I make a lot more money there than I would have made downtown. If I had allowed anger to control my actions, I would have engaged in a long fight with city hall only to win a less profitable pitch spot than where I am now.

So relax a little, and then I am certain a favorable option will present itself for you. Let's not forget that at some points in history, magicians were hunted down, arrested, executed, and even burned at the stake ... yet, we have survived and are still working our magic to this day! I doubt some little harbor authority is going to stop you from being a magician. :)

Message: Posted by: Zack (Jan 30, 2005 09:05PM)
Don't talk to people on the Café. TALK TO AN ATTORNEY!!!

Seriously, I suspect you have an excellent case here. 650 seems unreasonable to me.

It would be good if you could rally your fellow buskers, but that may be like herding cats.
Message: Posted by: business (Jan 30, 2005 10:10PM)
Joe Joe is talking sense about not getting angry and trying to fight with those who are trying to rain on your parade.

Chance please note.
Message: Posted by: Chance (Jan 31, 2005 08:14AM)
The only thing worth taking note of here is that Mark Lewis is again stirring up trouble where none belongs.
Message: Posted by: RiffRaff (Jan 31, 2005 08:24AM)
On 2005-01-29 14:52, okito25 wrote:
I agree with the idea that we want to eliminate some of the riff raff.

I've never even been to Victoria.
Message: Posted by: okito25 (Jan 31, 2005 03:32PM)
On 2005-01-31 09:24, RiffRaff wrote:
On 2005-01-29 14:52, okito25 wrote:
I agree with the idea that we want to eliminate some of the riff raff.

I've never even been to Victoria.
Hmmm ;) no offense intended riff raff. (grins)
Thanks guys .. and yes we have it confirmed and yes we are going to have a meeting with city council with an attorney present on Febuary 11. We're not getting our Hackles up too hig at this point and are indeed offering the city options. One being that we would be able to share the pitch (as we have always done) and the costs incurred. We would also promise to keep it clean and tidy, as well as give the MYI and SYM kids a chance to get their feet wet as well as we do have a few that are early teens that would love to give it a whirl.
I think the one thing that really tweeked my melon was the fact we asked for increases last year and the year before. The simple reason that we were innundated with whom ever could hammer out a beat or strum 3 bar chords and call it music, (city hall issued over 300 licenses) the city denied our requests of increases of 100 or 150 as they said they want to make it accessible to kids and the youth to also participate. My question is what parent is going to flip 650 dollars so their kid can hang out street performing? I hope I am not comming off as griping too loudly. I would gladly pay a reasonable fee. I do not busk full time, but I have always enjoyed working a couple of hours in the evenings in a very positive atmosphere at my leasuire. I cannot see paying $650.00 to enjoy myself. Enough said on the topic. We do have a ton of vet street folks coming out to the meeting, young and old, and hopefully we can come up with a viable solution.
Thanks for listening,
Message: Posted by: lucas (Feb 4, 2005 11:58PM)
I am 13 year old member of the SYM in Victoria. Last summer after a speech about busking at our meeting, I decided to give it a try. I paid my $10 license fee and went out a couple times. I had a great time and was looking forward to going out again this year---until this morning when I saw the paper:


You can read the article at-http://www.canada.com/victoria/timescolonist/news/story.html?id=cacebc74-1ca9-443d-a182-3b6a1777d084

It says in the article that jugglers and artists will now be paying $950 for the right to busk. The reason for this increase is that the city spends $2 for every $1 received. If that's true they can raise the fee to $20 and break even. If they raise it to $50 they will be making tremendous profits. I would even be fine if the fee was as high as $200 (the fee set for musicians), but $950 means I will not be able to busk in 2005. Where will I be able to learn the craft of busking in Victoria? I do live here you know.

Lucas Kavanagh

P.S. I sent a copy to Alan Lowe (mayor of Victoria)
Message: Posted by: The Mighty Fool (Feb 5, 2005 03:51AM)
So which is it? $650 or $950? And why is it so much (ludicrously) higher for non-musicians? Couldn't there be a discrimination issue? BTW, were talking about Canadian dollar amounts right?
Message: Posted by: lucas (Feb 5, 2005 10:53AM)
Yes, this is Canadian money ($1 USD=$0.81 Cnd). The paper said $950 for jugglers. Maybe it's $650 for magicians? That still is too high for a 13 year old (or any part-time busker).

In todays paper:


Mean spirit seems to be contagious
Harbour Authority is taking the fun out of summer with huge fee increases for buskers
Times Colonist
February 5, 2005

The grey-faced meanies are out again, as they are every spring, to spoil it for everyone and make sure Victoria remains the town that fun forgot.

This year it's not the killjoys at city hall, who like to snatch free balloons away from kids, trample on free flowers and stop people from singing and dancing and making music in the street -- it's the Grinches who have risen from the depths of the Inner Harbour to slosh dirty, cold water on the Lower Causeway and wash the fun off it.

They call themselves the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, and they're proposing to jack up licence fees and require insurance premiums for artists, musicians and buskers who have turned that slab of concrete into a happy people place for so many summers.

The cost of an annual licence for causeway musicians would rise to $200 from $10; for entertainers to $950 from $10 and for artists to $950 from $500. And there are insurance premiums and GST on top of that.

The guitar players and marimba band members say they won't be able to afford to entertain Victorians and tourists.

Jugglers would find it hard to handle the proposed fee for entertainers and it would be tricky for magicians, too. They say that if they're forced away, Vegas types will move in.

The artists are worried that they'll be crowded into impossibly small places on the causeway, being sloshed with one another's paint. They say that if they leave, producers of high-volume commercial artwork will take their place. The jewel of the Inner Harbour will become a chaotic flea-market.

All this fuss is because the city's three-year lease on the site, granted when the causeway was transferred to the authority, has run out. Michael Cormier, the authority's general manager, says the fees set by the city don't cover the cost of maintaining the place, keeping it clean and tending the flowerbeds.

Well, why on earth should they? Does this mean that if there were no artists or buskers, the concrete would be littered with garbage and the flowerbeds overrun with weeds?

Since the feds turned the harbour over to the local authority, it has become infected with city hall grumpiness. Over the years city council and its bylaw officers, have cracked down on sidewalk Cafés, forbidden buskers to amplify their nose-flutes, kicked over the sidewalk sandwich-boards, driven ice-cream trucks from neighbourhoods, sent downtown face-painters packing, banned bongo drums, ruled out free flowers for Good Neighbour Day and ordered people to stop giving animal balloons to kids.

Is this whole town subject to some kind of Beacon Hill Park trust that we don't know about -- or are the people who govern us just plain mean?

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2005
Message: Posted by: okito25 (Feb 5, 2005 12:49PM)
All this fuss is because the city's three-year lease on the site, granted when the causeway was transferred to the authority, has run out. Michael Cormier, the authority's general manager, says the fees set by the city don't cover the cost of maintaining the place, keeping it clean and tending the flowerbeds.

What a pant Load .. they never kept it clean to begin with. BUSKERS POLICED THEIR PITCHES ... they had too. I carried a broom and dust pan, a unique way of crowd gathering, but it worked. ;) By noon, however, every garbage can on the joint was overflowing.

Lucas, there is a meeting February 11 at 3 pm. Will fill you in on details.

Message: Posted by: JoeJoe (Feb 6, 2005 08:36AM)
OK, so this was private property that was leased to the city, and now the lease has run out and the owners are seeking to come up with the money to pay to have the sidewalks cleaned?

One key word is "proposing". They haven't actually done it yet. It is important that the buskers talk with the authority - if not, there could be a situation where they don't make any money because no buskers are willing to ante up that much dough. From their side of the story, if only one busker pays up they have made more money. But at what expense? If the buskers move somewhere else, it may be at the cost of their business.

The shopping centers and owners are always looking to profit from their property - it is important to inform them that you do not have any products to sell, and they should be PAYING YOU for your services! The fact that you are paid in tips does not mean they should get a share. Even a waitress gets paid in addition to tips.

Message: Posted by: Chris Stolz (Feb 6, 2005 11:01AM)

Being from B.C. myself, I can honestly say I think it kind of stinks. One of my favourite things to do was to go down to the Harbour and see all of the entertainment and stop of at Tony's shop for a couple hours before returning home.

I hope that this doesn't put a damper on Victoria Day! It's one of the best days of the year to see the magicians and jugglers work!

My point as both an entertainer and an audience member is that would would be very disappointing if it lowers the number of performers at that Harbour. It's a HUGE part of what Victoria is and draws a lot of people down tot hat part of the city. It benefits the performers, the spectators and the neighboring businesses.

Message: Posted by: Mario Morris (Feb 8, 2005 07:21PM)
What is the deal on tourist getting a license? Will they be able to get one?


Do you guys have Public Liability Insurance for Canada? If so do you have link to your broker for me?
Message: Posted by: okito25 (Feb 11, 2005 09:03PM)
It is a tangled Web indeed .. we had quite a meeting with the harbour authority today .. and are re grouping to Hash out some of the details , as we did not learn much at all .. it seems they don't know what they are doing as of yet .. they gave us a series of Prices .. including one at a per diem rate of thrity bucks for a daily licence based on a three day stint for the convieneince of Visiting buskers .. or we ( magicians) could fall under the catagory of "Other" entertainment... and Pay 190 for the Summer ,, and be Pushed into the Back forty pitches , as we speak I am negotiating a deal with a resort.. and if all is well I will not need to busk When I do it will be for the sheer love ( and money) and I will take it to some of the smaller Local communitys , who appreciate it, there really are plenty of opps on this tourist island ... all I know for certain at this point is .. the causway looks as though it is going to be a real mess
Message: Posted by: Musician (Feb 12, 2005 03:05PM)
From February 12's Trashy Victoria Times Colonist... by the way, no one in this thread mentioned that a lot of buskers busk all the way down Government Street(from the harbour to about Government and Yates)... but I guess it's mainly musicians, and you're mainly... well... magicians...

Insurance a big hurdle for causeway buskers

Gerard Young
Times Colonist
Saturday, February 12, 2005

New fees for buskers working the Lower Causeway in the Inner Harbour will be implemented April 1.

But the artists, musicians and performers will have to get insurance as well.

The only good news for buskers out of Friday's Greater Victoria Harbour Authority meeting is that they will be able to pay their fees in three instalments.

"That's going to make a difference to a lot of guys," said Gerard Divine, who performs under the name Red the Juggler.

But insurance could be a problem in that the lowest quote anyone has received for the required $1-million liability package is $650 a year, he said.

He and others understand the harbour authority's reason for needing to build up revenue to pay for amenities such as garbage collection and gardening of the causeway, but Divine thinks the city should be chipping in because the causeway is a popular tourist attraction and benefits the whole city.

"Anybody who comes to town, a lot of what they see, it is attractive down there ... I think that is what separates this from other cities," he said.

Annual fees are now set at $950 for artists, $180 for musicians, $360 for jugglers and $3,000 for food vendors.

A monthly rate of $250 or $25 a day has been set for artists coming into town for shorter periods. Musicians for shorter periods can pay $10 but must play three consecutive days in a week.

The harbour authority will maintain the same size of spots, something buskers are happy about as there was some talk about downsizing their space, Divine said.
Harbour authority CEO Michael Cormier did not return a phone call.

The harbour authority took over control of the waterfront walkway from the city as of Feb. 1. Performers previously paid $10 a year, while artists paid $500 annually.
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2005