Celebrating self-expression as a basic human right essential for the
healthy growth of youth, individuals and communities
COMMUNITY ARTS ADVOCATES, INC.
Stephen H. Baird, Founder and Executive Director
PO Box 300112, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130-0030
Web site: http://www.communityartsadvocates.org
The History and Cultural Impact
of Street Performing in America
by Stephen Baird © Stephen Baird 2000-2007
The following little historical references are just a glimpse of the depth and breadth of the creative spirit of the human race that blossoms on the street corners, market places, subway platforms and any other place people gather.
There was an attempt to impose a $500 license fee in the spring of 2004 at South Street Seaport. See this page for details of the petition drive and work to repeal this fee by Josh Weiner. JugglrJosh@aol.com
South Street Seaport Marketplace, 19 Fulton St., New York, NY 10038-2196 212/SEA-PORT
UPDATES: The South Street Seaport Management approved a festival and fundraiser to celebrate the program that has been at the Seaport for over 20 years, to sustain it for the future and to highlight the performers currently in the program, as well as successful acts that have been through the program. There will be a stipend for the participating acts. The Festival will be held on Saturday, June 18th, 2005. It will be a part of an arts festival towards the revitalization of downtown New York City. See details below:
To The South Street Seaport Administration,
We are writing this letter felt to voice our concerns regarding the recent policy changes that are being considered to with the South Street Seaport Street Performing Program.
To begin with, the Seaport Management had no meeting with the street performers in the program before sending out the letter requesting this unprecedented fee. The performers had to individually respond to the request, and many who cannot afford the fee were unable to do so. We respectfully consider ourselves part of the South Street Seaport organization and many of us care about its well-being, and therefore feel it appropriate to have a meeting of all concerned when issues of major importance are being considered. The initial March 15th fee deadline has been extended, due to communications and meetings from performers in the program and due to support pro bono by the AFL-CIO Local 802.
We feel that the $500 requested fee is inappropriate. No such policy exists at any other street performing program in the country. It would set a precedent for the Rouse corporation, and the program, that has been highlighted in South Street Seaport Advertising as being the premier acts in the country, would be asking the performers to pay in order to pass the hat. This precedent would then allow implementation in other cities. The Rouse Corporation benefits greatly from the free performances given by all variety of buskers which contribute to the vitality of the marketplace and Seaport experience.
Many well known variety acts began their career as Street Performers, which is one of the Hallmarks of a Free Society. It is a tradition in the United States that dates to colonial times, and in recorded history throughout the world. Many great performers began their careers on the street, and certainly quite a few were not very good when they started. For some it has been a place to develop their act, and for others it is their way of life by choice. We hope that the Seaport remains the supportive atmosphere which allows performers to grow.
We urge you to drop the requested fee and allow the program to continue as it has been since it's inception at the South Street Seaport.
Josh Weiner, Seaport Performer Jeff Mosche, Seaport Performer Steven Maginnis, Supporter Ray Hoffman, Former Seaport Performer Hal Weiner, Attorney, Photographer Carol Miyamoto, Retired Teacher Anthony Francis, The Hermitage of St. John of the Cross Jennifer Dinoia, Performer Joe Castine, Seaport Performer Dorothea Murray, Lincoln University, Supporter Carol Drazen, Supporter Irina Filatova, Seaport Performer Mega Flash, Seaport Performer Emily Eng, Principal, Transfiguration Kindergarten Church Andy Eisner, Attorney Tylerfyre, Performer Cindy Marvell, Lazer Vaudeville, Performer
Additional Supporters: Mark Hayward, Former Seaport Performer Sandy Goodman, Supporter Steve Zeitlin, Center for Urban Folk Culture Stephen Baird, Community Arts Advocates Joe Eisman, AFLCIO Local 802 Susie Tanenbaum, Supporter Karen Gersch, Artist Robert Neslon, Performer Neil Alexander, Seaport Performer David Aiken, Performer Tim Higginbotham, Music Under New York Yogi Lazer, Seaport Performer Peter Waldman, Seaport Performer Jennifer Stewart, Seaport Performer Nancy Lyon, Seaport Performer Arthur Eisenberg, NYCLU Jim, Performers.net and the performers of the South Street Seaport.
Dear Friends of the South Street Seaport Street Performers,
Last year the South Street Seaport Requested an unprecedented $500 fee for the street performers to work. After concerned phone calls, E-mails, Letters and meetings supporting the program, the fee request was dropped and the common ground of a Street Performing Festival was agreed upon.
The South Street Seaport Management approved of a festival and fundraiser to celebrate the program that has been at the Seaport for over 20 years, to sustain it for the future and to highlight the performers currently in the program, as well as successful acts that have been through the program. There will be a stipend for the participating acts.
The Festival will be held on Saturday, June 18th, 2005. It will be a part of an arts festival towards the revitalization of downtown New York City.
As of January 12th, the festival has been given sponsorship by the Lower Manhattan Marketing Association (LOMA) who will include the Seaport Street Performer Festival under it's umbrella. LOMA is having a festival from June 15th-18th, 2005 in lower Manhattan similar to the Busker's Ball of the 1990s.
I'm sending out applications to other Arts Organizations as potential sponsors for the festival. I've sent an application to the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and the decision will be announced in March.
It will take a lot of effort to make this a successful event and sustain the program as NYC continues to rebuild.
If you would like to participate in the festival as a performer, or if you would like to volunteer working as an organizer of the festival, please respond to this E-mail.
Thank you again for your support of the street performing program at the South Street Seaport.
Sincerely, Josh Weiner JugglrJosh@aol.com
Thanks, the First Annual Busker's Fare was a good event, with a Celebration Breakfast on Friday, June 17th. Members of the LOMA board were there and also several performers including Cindy Marvell.
The two Hall of Fame inductees, Nancy Lyon and I, were presented awards and gave short performances.
The festival included Balloon displays like the 1990's Busker's Ball at the World Trade Center. The 2005 roster and several returning acts also were included, with a small stipend from the LOMA and Seaport Management sponsors.
I'll send along a group E-mail with more details.
Thanks again for your support.
Sincerely, Josh Weiner
Street Arts and Buskers Advocates
Copyright © 1999-2007 by Stephen Baird