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Topic: I'm sooooo excited . . . but need some help.
Message: Posted by: KC Cameron (Mar 19, 2014 09:19PM)
I used to make my living busking . . . but that was 20 years ago.

I have been in talks with my local Park & Rec in Raleigh, NC and convinced them to allow busking and charging (for creations/services) at our city-owned (small) amusement park. I will be the performer liaison and will be developing the rules and organizing the entertainers. They have people waiting up to two hours for rides and have an amphitheater where I can organize public and private shows - and charge for them!

Since this is a city-owned & funded park, they want to make it as good as possible, and are not interested in making much if anything on the entertainers. They see the entertainers as providing a service to the city, not the other way around, which is nice for a change.

I need help with creating the rules that are "busker friendly" AND park friendly. I don't want to ruin this opportunity for busking, but I don't want to be overly restrictive to buskers either.

I also could use some tips on organising the entertainers.
Here is what I have:
1) All entertainers must have a permit and a background check by the city.
2) Buskers can keep all tips.
3) Those who charge for a service/product (i.e. balloon sculpture and face painting - if they choose to charge) will pay a percentage of their "earnings" to the park.
4) Buskers can use any type of tip container as long as it is not glass.
5) Amplification is only on a case by case bases.
6) The entertainer is responsible for any mess made by the entertainer or his/her audience.

I am looking for:
1) Ideas on how to keep buskers from being beggars.
2) How to deal with who gets what spot.
3) How to keep a good mix of talents working.
4) Solutions to any problems which I am not aware.

I really don't want the entertainers to be held to a strict schedule since most of us have paid gigs, and we would use busking to fill-in the empty parts of our schedules, but I would like to have at least a couple buskers working at any given time on the weekends. I was thinking of having a calendar where people could sign up for spots.

I would really like to have the skilled and busy entertainers be able to knock out a couple hours when they want and not have the calendar clogged with the newbies that have a lot of time on their hands. I don't see it as an immediate problem, but down the road it could become one.

This is an unpaid position with some perks.

1) I can perform when I like, and have some control over who else is performing.
2) I can do paid public shows when I choose at the amphitheater.
3) In the future, it may become a paid position where either the park would pay me or the entertainers would pays dues.
4) The park will provide free advertising, and it is an opportunity to get in the news.

ANY suggestions will be GREATLY appreciated!
Message: Posted by: writeall (Mar 21, 2014 12:30AM)
Get a leg up and avoid re-inventing the wheel by looking at regs other cities use. Worth a phone call or two when you find a well run venue.
Message: Posted by: MagiCol (Mar 21, 2014 03:22AM)
Well, you didn't ask for a comment on this, but about the approach: "Those who charge for a service/product (i.e. balloon sculpture and face painting - if they choose to charge) will pay a percentage of their "earnings" to the park." I will give my thoughts for consideration. Buskers and sellers, I think, don't want others to know how much 'earnings' they make. Not even to let the organisers of an event know. So the approach you mention of a percentage [assuming it is a fixed rate] will enable the organizers to work that out. I resist that idea. What I make by selling something is my business.
If you set a certain charge for a seller's site, as most Farmer's Markets etc. do, then those who can make profit from their stall will continue to sell at the venue, and those who can't will quit. That's their choice.
My tuppence worth on that topic...
Message: Posted by: MagiCol (Mar 21, 2014 03:46AM)
1) Ideas on how to keep buskers from being beggars.
Any busker considered by the organizer as putting too much pressure on people to give tips/donations shall be cautioned
to be moderate, and if they do not use moderate appeals only shall be ...

2) How to deal with who gets what spot.
Certain sites are better income earners than others e.g. those on corner pitches, or near entrances etc. You could rotate who gets what site.
Farmer's Markets and the like seem to work that those sellers who are on site regularly get assigned a site which is 'their' site. This means they know every week just where they set up their gazebo. You could have it that somehow they can 'move up' to a more popular site tier based on their loyalty in supporting the Market by regular attendance. Casual sellers/entertainers get the last available or lowest tier pitches.

3) How to keep a good mix of talents working.
Work out what talents are available, then allot one performer per type of talent. If you have spare sites then consider if having two of the same talent is going to reduce the income of them, compared to having, say, only one juggler at that week's event.

4) Solutions to any problems which I am not aware.
Most Farmer's Markets require that people set up between certain times, the event opens at a set time half an hour later, and the sellers must stay until the finish time. Otherwise some vendors will pack up and leave early, whereas the organiser wants the event to be fully 'staffed' no matter what time of the event a visitor comes to enjoy the event.

Working to set hours goes directly against street magicians, who work on the basis that if there's money to be made you stick around usually to make it, and if you clearly have a poor income or low number of walkers you call it quits instead of wasting your time and effort hanging around.
So you may need a different 'rule' for buskers compared to events that visitors pay for.

I suggest keep the rules as simple as possible. But you should to allow for adverse weather, insurance if needed, what to do if a performer/seller doesn't turn up of their own choice, who is responsible for a trader/busker's gear if damaged or lost, etc
Message: Posted by: Stperformer (Mar 21, 2014 05:29AM)

3) Those who charge for a service/product (i.e. balloon sculpture and face painting - if they choose to charge)

I have found that having 'Performing Artists' (magicians, jugglers, mimes, etc.) sharing pitches with vending artists (balloon sculptures, musicians selling CD's, caricature/portrait artists etc.) to be problematic.

Message: Posted by: RiffRaff (Mar 21, 2014 08:21AM)
Do guests pay an admission fee to get into the park?
Message: Posted by: Motley Mage (Mar 21, 2014 08:30AM)
KC--This sounds like an amazing opportunity for you and for other performers in the area . . . and I know Raleigh is a Mecca for talented, artsy folk, so you are going to have loads of potential acts beating down your door once word gets out. MagiCol has lots of solid advice for you, and I will second his reminder not to reinvent the wheel. Make a few calls, find out how others handle similar setups--and his comparisons to Farmers' Markets and such is a good place to start.

Best of luck! Keep us updated!
Message: Posted by: KC Cameron (Mar 21, 2014 09:45PM)
THANKS EVERYONE, Especially MagiCol!

Stperformer, how is having Performing Artists and Vending Artists problematic? You have a lot more experience in this than I do, and I could use your insight.

RiffRaff - There is no charge for entrance.

Here is what I have come up. Please comment!

Artists Administrative
Artists are allowed to perform to enrich the public’s experience at the park. This must be an artist’s goal. Excessive behavior that is counter-productive to this goal is not allowed. “Hat lines” and “sales pitches” are permitted, but are encouraged to be humorous and not place any person in a position where they feel harassed or obligated.

All artists must have a permit and pass a background check by the city. The permit must be displayed prominently when performing.

All artists will check in and out at the front office.

Each artist will be assigned a location where he/she can perform. Artists may not perform outside of their assigned areas/times without permission from the park.

There will be an online entertainment calendar where artists can reserve their time and location.
Tier One artists can reserve a free spot at any time
Tier Two artists can reserve a free spot up to 1 week in advance
Tier Three (a casual/sporadic artist) can reserve a free spot up to 3 days in advance
Visiting Artists can contact the office to reserve spots/times.

Artists who fail to show for their reservation other than adverse weather or acts of God (below 60º and above 95º, rain or high winds, etc.) or are more than one hour late twice or more in a year may choose to either
1) pay $50 for every incident after their first for the year, or
2) lose their permit and/or ranking for up to one year.

An artist may never “Claim Jump” another’s spot/time. If the artist who reserved a spot/time is 15 minutes late, the park can assign the spot/time to another artist.

An artist or the artists’ audience may not block pedestrian or vehicle traffic.

An artist must be at least 6 feet from a pedestrian passage way during performance..

An artist must abstain from using abusive language and gestures as defined by park personnel.

An artist may not use or be under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substance without a prescription.

An artist may not use flammables without written consent from the park.

Artists must keep their areas clean both during and after performance.

The artist is responsible for any mess made by the busker or their crowd.

Amplification is only on a case by case bases. Requests to lower or cut the volume by park’s personnel will be followed.

Artists’ Financial
The appearance and quality of an act should demonstrate a positive intention to entertain passers-by, not to solicit money through sympathy. Excessive behavior that is counter to this goal will be warned. “Hat lines” and “sales pitches” are permitted, but are encouraged to be humorous and not place any person in a position where they feel harassed or obligated.

Any artist considered by park personnel “overly pressuring” park guests for a tip or a purchase will be given warning

Buskers can use any type of tip container as long as it is not glass. The tip container can have a sign up to 8.5 x 11 inches.

Buskers keep all tips and donations.

Artists are responsible for their own property, it's damage, theft or loss, and any damage to park or private property used in their performance.

Vending Artists may not perform without a Vending Artists’ Permit.

Buskers may not “peddle” without a Vending Artist’s Permit.

A Vending Artists’ permit covers both peddling and busking.

Park Staff Guide

“Busker Artists” ask for a donation or tip, “Vending Artists” charge a price.

The reason to have Busking Artists and Vending Artists in the park is to enrich the public’s experience. The artists’ reason for entertaining may vary, to include income. Towards those ends we divide the areas in the park the artists can use:
Food Court
Covered Entrance

We also divide artists into these categories:

Balloon Sculpture
Character Artist
Face Painting
Fortune Tellers
Living Statue
Music (Any act that uses music automatically falls into this group)
Street Theater - Non-Musical (to include clowns, jugglers, magicians, mime, puppeteers, story telling, and ventriloquism) [

Two competing artists of any one category cannot perform in the same area without park approval.

Vending Artists may only sell things within the limits of their permit and the things sold MUST be hand created by the artist at the time, and provide an enriching experience to the public. Examples include: Paintings, drawings, sculpture. The exception is supplies designed to encourage the art form of the vendor and any media created by the artist.

Each artist will be rated with their entertainment type, and it will be displayed on their park permit

The Park will decide who is a
Tier One,
Tier Two, or
Tier Three artist in each discipline. (An entertainer can be a Tier One vocalist and a Tier Two face-painter.)
Visiting Artist (This is to encourage transient artists)

The park’s decision on rating artists will be based on:
total hours entertaining at the park,
total recent time entertaining at the park.
missed reserved times/dates, for reasons other than adverse weather.
public input, and park discretion
Competition in category of entertainment (i.e., There will be a limited number of Tier One entertainers in any given category).
Amount and severity of Warnings given.
Any reason the parks deems fit.

Parking Passes are available to Tier One, Tier Two and Visiting Entertainers at the main office.

The park can suspend an artist at any time, for however long they want, without any reason.


The Amphitheater is to provide the public with an enriching experience.

All stage shows must be approved by the park.
Only complete shows of more than 30 minutes are allowed to perform on stage.
Busking and charging for the stage show is permitted.
The artist(s) on stage can choose to have any other permitted artists perform in the area.
If amplification is being provided by the park, and charges may apply.
Message: Posted by: bluemagic (Mar 22, 2014 11:40AM)
Post sign thru the park about tipping the preformers so the guess know so they understand and not get upset
Message: Posted by: NYCTwister (Mar 22, 2014 12:48PM)
Without going into too much detail, if the park is public property you will find that federal freedom of expression laws will ultimately be the final rule that you will go by.
Though the city and/or state may posture and try to assert themselves they will lose in court, and court is where you will end up.
We had that in NYC and the city lost in court, badly.
It was decided that, unless there was a verifiable danger posed by the activity, the city had no right to prevent anyone from expressing themselves.

Busking is an artistic endeavor and people have rights that they will insist upon sooner or later. Probably sooner.

Having said that, the fewer rules you create and try to enforce the better.

Think about what your life will be like if you have to constantly arbitrate disputes over minor details. Unless you are being WELL compensated for your efforts, my intuition tells me that you will quickly find that your good deed did not, in fact, go unpunished.

In any event I wish you the best of luck and, as a busker, thank you.
Message: Posted by: KC Cameron (Mar 22, 2014 08:52PM)
Bluemagic - That is a great idea! Here in Raleigh there is very little busking done, so people do not know how to react to it.

NYCTwister - I imagine it will happen eventually, but while Raleigh is a fair size city, it is nothing to NYC. It would take a lot of drive and a good cash source to take the State or City to court. I really don't see in unless an outside group takes up the cause (like the ACLU). But if it happens, I'm good with that too.

While the city has allowed busking in some downtown areas, it has not really caught on, and this park is an incredible opportunity to introduce it to the city.

I hope to fashion the rules to eliminate most arbitration. Things are pretty clean-cut, and violators risk a fine or being banned. This year I don't expect many problems, but as the idea/opportunity gains ground and there is not enough room to comfortable accommodate all buskers, well maybe it won't be a volunteer position.

What it will do is provide an outlet to what I love doing, performing. It should be an easy way to gain video footage and local recognition too..
Message: Posted by: NYCTwister (Mar 23, 2014 08:40AM)
I would suggest making all spots be first come, first served otherwise you will quickly encounter a situation where someone is already in one of the better spots when the person who reserved it arrives.
Under your system that person will be expected to leave. What will happen if they refuse to? If it is public property then they have the right to stay and no rule can be made which takes away that right.
If they are then forcibly removed and arrested, Pandora's box will open automatically. At the very least such an incident will not make a good impression on the public.
In NYC it didn't take an army of lawyers or a mountain of money. All it took was one knowledgeable person to challenge their arrest on the grounds that it violated their right to free expression.

If, as I suspect and truly hope, your busking initiative is very successful, artists of all kinds will quickly see that they can make good money doing so. In these difficult economic times the lure of such money is very strong. I now make in 3 hours what it took 10 to make on my previous job. That's a powerful incentive for anyone

Believe me I am NOT trying to throw cold water on the situation. I really hope busking catches on in your city. It is one of the most honest forms of creative expression and anything that keeps it alive and growing is for the good of all.

As I said I think that you will find that the fewer rules the better. Since you have the backing of the city, which is great, perhaps you can consult with one of their lawyers about the restrictions you propose. This might save you headaches down the road.

Once again the BEST of luck to you. I'm looking forward to hearing how it goes.

Message: Posted by: gallagher (Mar 23, 2014 12:36PM)
Hey KC,
I really don't have any Tipps for you,
but still I have to take a minute to say, "Thanks!"

I think it's really great,
the Effort,..
the Thought,
you and your City are putting into this,
and all pretty logical,.. and fair.
Man,.. you guys are creating 'a Pitch'!

I hope it stays peaceful,
and 'personal'.
.,,.that your energy,.
and interest stay strong(!).

,....and that the sun shines in Raleigh!

Fingers crossed and Smiles,
Message: Posted by: D. Yoder (Mar 23, 2014 01:02PM)
It seems to me that you are putting in so many rules that you will keep buskers out rather than inviting them in. From the way I read your posts, the city is terrified of being over run by vagrants and beggars instead of focusing on inviting performers to come. Do you really have that many vagrants and beggars? My guess is that your fair town already has laws on the books to deal with harrassment and you don't need to duplicate it in rules for buskers.

If I was traveling through your fair city and wanted to spend an evening busking in your park, I would not be able to. Unless you have many buskers living in your town who are willing to jump through the hoops to perform at set times and places whether it is a good day for busking or not, you will end up with the same few people over and over and miss out on new performers and energy.

If you have to have it be by application, make it one that I can purchase on the web or by mail for a year at $30 or less without a background check. (See permit for Baltimore, MD) Don't require set times. Do make it inviting.

My 2 cents.
Message: Posted by: MagiCol (Mar 24, 2014 04:25AM)
"The park can suspend an artist at any time, for however long they want, without any reason."
I'd be annoyed if I was suspended without being told why. I guess some written record of the date, event that caused the suspension, and the length of suspension will be kept.
Perhaps this could be reworded as
"The park can suspend an artist and any time, supplying a reason. No discussion will be entered in to once the decision is made."

You've got quite a task ahead, and I wish you well as you work to improve entertainment at your venue.
Message: Posted by: Endless West (Mar 24, 2014 11:51AM)
The less regulation the better. When it comes down to it it's a public park anyway. Anyone can walk in and set up a soapbox anywhere they please. Why try to regulate it? Let it prosper.
Message: Posted by: KC Cameron (Mar 24, 2014 02:44PM)
The Parks & Rec are excited about bring in buskers. The rules are my ideas, not the parks. This is a relatively small, high traffic area, and the entertainers here (for the most part) have never busked. The rules are to keep things running smoothly so we can make a good impression on the city. The other parks as well as the city and surrounding cities will be watching, and hopefully we can open up more and more. If we start with no rules and chaos following, it is doubtful those new areas that are watching will be as inviting.

I imagine once busking is embraced, and the local entertainers understand busking, the rules will loosen. It is my personal feeling the rules (now) will protect the buskers from a hesitant city. It may be more difficult for us, but it will ease us in and let us get established and (hopefully) open more areas.

Remember, this is NOT NYC! People are different, and the current area (the downtown area - the park is not open to it yet) to busk is small and not lucrative. We are not a "destination", so fewer tourists too. We also have a lower population density which makes busking harder too.

While a legal remedy may be necessary, It would be better for everyone if it was not necessary. No reason to make enemies when the city and buskers can be friends.

Still, I think it would be a good idea to open one area for walk-ins only, but every area IS a "walk-in" if not reserved. The fees for not making your reservation are designed so buskers don't reserve a time and not show - which hurts both the public and other buskers.

D. Yoder
You will be able to do everything online, it is something I am working on. The current license is $40 and the background check is free. Right now it isn't on line, and city personnel don't know what busking is, and what permits are needed. I was sent in circles for the better part of the day to get my license.

The locations and times reserved will be posted on the web, so their should be no issue "Jumping through hoops", but even if hoops are there, it is better than the current situation. I plan on developing that website.

I DO want it inviting, and I want people to know when they can busk without coming to the park. Will we get the same few people? I imagine so after the many local entertainers decide it is not for them. There is a special Tier for visiting buskers just for you!

"park can suspend" I changed it as per request. The reason for this is we are going into the unknown (for us).

Message: Posted by: NYCTwister (Mar 24, 2014 06:03PM)
This will be my last post on this subject since I don't want to seem antagonistic.

My main point is that you seem to think that you, in conjunction with the city, seem to take it for granted that you can create and impose restrictions and fees on how people use public property.
The reality is that you can create them, but ultimately neither you, nor the city (police), can enforce them.

Even in Central Park which, contrary to popular belief, is NOT public property, the rules that have been created by right have been almost impossible to enforce. What has happened is that everyone is allowed and the best thrive and the rest leave.

I look forward to hearing how it all works out and I wish you success and...
Message: Posted by: KC Cameron (Mar 24, 2014 09:24PM)
"ultimately" is a key word.

I understand your point, but ultimately I'm going to die too. Not in a hurry to get there! ;) How long it takes, who knows.

I appreciate your posts.
Message: Posted by: LeoH (Mar 30, 2014 09:47AM)

Great to hear of your ambitious endeavor! I live in Winston-Salem and would love to converse with you further about starting a similar program with our parks and rec dept here.
Message: Posted by: KC Cameron (Mar 30, 2014 12:17PM)

Sure, give me a call (919) 355-8367 or drop an email off at my kid's site http://CaptainKidMagic.com