Asheville City Council’s Public Safety Committee is holding a community forum and meeting on Wednesday, June 22 to discuss proposed regulations for the city’s street performers, or buskers.
The members of the Public Safety Committee are Council members Cecil Bothwell (who chairs the committee), Brian Haynes and Julie Mayfield.
A memo attributed to city staffers from several departments summarizes the process the city undertook while developing the proposed rules. While the staff committee recognizes that buskers are a vital part of Asheville’s culture, according to the memo, “Those performances can cause adverse impacts to the community in the form of gathering crowds attracted to the entertainment offered in locations where there is insufficient room for crowds; blocked sidewalks; blocked ingress and egress of buildings; the risk of disrupting nearby motor vehicle traffic; and/or disturbance of the quiet enjoyment of residents and businesses.”
Among other new guidelines, buskers would need to register with the city and reserve spaces ahead of time. The regulations would also set performance venues where busking would be permitted, in an effort to limit busking space to one venue every 100 feet.
The community forum will be broken down into three sections: a welcome and introduction of forum participants, a presentation of the proposed guidelines by Assistant City Manager Paul Fetherston and a facilitated discussion between forum participants.
Musician Abby Roach serves as a spokesperson for the city’s buskers through her work with the Asheville Buskers Collective. Roach says that, while representatives from the Buskers Collective did meet with city officials and other stakeholders prior to the release of the draft regulations, the measures in the city’s proposed rule changes were not discussed during those meetings. Roach posted on Facebook, “If these ordinances pass I will be forced out of Asheville…” Roach has previously commented that a vibrant and successful busking community depends on sensible rules and self-policing rather than permits or defined schedules and performance areas.
After the community forum wraps up, the Public Safety Committee will commence a formal meeting with time allotted for public comment.
The forum and meeting take place June 22 at 3 p.m. in the U.S. Cellular Center Banquet Hall.
Additional documents regarding the Wednesday meeting, including the agenda, can be found here.
For more Xpress coverage on Asheville buskers, see “Down on the corner: Asheville buskers, businesses chime in on sharing public space” and “Buskers to City: Don’t put art in a box“.