(Close Window)
Topic: What's the real story in NYC?
Message: Posted by: dfrasuremagic (Mar 9, 2014 11:07PM)
Hey Gang- I'm looking to take my act to the streets here in NYC, and am wondering what the story is about the recently changed "expressive vendor" laws from any resident buskers. Are the rules being strictly enforced in the parks and streets? Are performers being harassed more or less than before? Does it seem the Parks and Rec Dept is turning a blind eye, etc.? Looking to hear from someone "on the ground" with any helpful info. Thanks!

Message: Posted by: Iron Butterfly (Mar 10, 2014 11:23PM)
I live in NYC as well and started working Central park last year. It seems the law is enforced dependent of the mood of the time. I was under the impression that one would be hassled if one used amplification, which I do not. I set up severl times with permission of a park Ranger off the walking path off Columbus circle entrance. This Spring I plan on seeing what the real deal is street wise. I do more of a side walk doorway show. Short and sweet 10 min or so. No amplification. I do some coin, rope, spomgeball, benson bowl routine. I am trying to keep it simple.

You can email me at jamesrkeegan@yahoo.com

I perform weekends with my wife and our business. I plan on hitting the streets on week days.
Message: Posted by: dfrasuremagic (Mar 11, 2014 07:18PM)
Thanks Butterfly- I was walking around Washington Square Park today, and while there weren't a lot of performers out, there was a drummer and a singer and a guy selling slingshot thingys. Also, no one seemed to be bothered or even care at all, so it makes me think the rules aren't being strictly enforced. However, it was only one day in only one park, so we'll see when it gets a little bit nicer out.
Message: Posted by: ed rhodes (Mar 13, 2014 10:22AM)
I think you might find the rules more stringently enforced in Central Park as opposed to Washington Square Park. Things like that aren't always fair, but they are the truth. :stuckinbag:
Message: Posted by: Bobert (Mar 21, 2014 09:24AM)
It's still a bit early for you to bump into buskers out in the parks. Give it a few a weeks and some magicians will start turning up. Also I will be getting group together to busk Central Park when the weather warms up. If anyone on the Café wants to tag along send me a PM.

Also Central Park is usually one of the more fun places to busk.
Message: Posted by: NYCTwister (Mar 22, 2014 12:07PM)
Check out the NYC Dept of Commerce website which covers what is permissible under the freedom of expression laws in the street. Basically so long as you are respectful of the property owners, don't impede the flow of foot traffic and aren't offensive you're usually fine.
Some of the police officers aren't as knowledgeable about what is protected under the above mentioned laws but you can usually explain it. If asked to move it's usually best to just do so, unless you are willing to go the distance and get arrested and then contest it in court.

As far as Central Park is concerned there are designated spots for the artists which have pretty much been staked out by the long timers. They are first come first served but you have to be there at 5am to have a chance.

When busking (I was doing balloons, now I'm switching to magic) you can work for tips. Asking a specific price is a no-no, even though it's technically an artistic endeavor. This is because the park is actually not public property, it's governed by a conservatory.
If you're good I've found that tips are better anyway as people will give more than you ask for on average, so it's a non issue. If you suck, or appear to be money hungry the people of New York will sniff you out in a heart beat and leave you to starve.

Both the Dept. of Commerce and Central Park have .pdf's that you can print out. I highly suggest you do since, as I said, you sometimes have to explain the rules to those who are tasked with enforcing them.

Since I'm primarily a kids entertainer I haven't worked the other parks as much. Since the village gentrified Washington Square isn't what it once was. It's also under constant surveillance to keep it from becoming a drug dealing spot again.

Times Square appears to be better than it actually is. Though it's overrun with people it's hard to find a spot where you aren't in the way. The costume characters have taken over and have created an aggressive atmosphere which turns people off. ( I don't know why copyright laws aren't enforced.)

Bottom line is if you're good, hard working, flexible and personable you can make a good living in NYC but I guess that's true pretty much anywhere.
Message: Posted by: dfrasuremagic (Mar 22, 2014 04:43PM)
Thanks for the reply Twister! Helpful info. I went out again to WSP the other day to check it out after work (day job), and found no fewer than 12 street acts of varying entertainment skill levels busking without incident. It seems you're right about being personable, non-offensive, moving along when asked, and not blocking traffic. I'm looking forward to getting out there once the weather breaks!