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'Crackdown on the Mall'

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'Crackdown on the Mall \r\n\r\nBy David Pavlovich\r\nGreeen Press\r\n\r\n David is a professional classically trained harpist from Aptos
 
 


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'The next logical step'

''
'Know any other classical musicians? Organize a chamber concert!'
 

the flip side

I think there are two distinct issues at play here and it would be nice to enumerate them. (1) He was playing the harp (and having heard him downtown, playing it damned well). (2) He was selling his CDs on the street without a license.

The article talks a lot about the love of music and the appreciation of passers-by, but it neatly ignores the commerce. Downtown is an expensive place to set up a business. There are many stores downtown. If you buy something from a street vendor, it follows that you won't be buying it from the business that pay rent downtown, the sale won't be taxed, the revenue to local government and works will lower, etc. Now that's a bit melodramatic in light of a few performers, but stay with me on this.

I acknowledge that no business has an intrinsic right to be in business. However, the business owners downtown are as much a part of this community as you or I and deserve some modicum of respect. That said, in the interests of solutions, why not simply say that street performers may not sell CDs on the sidewalk but are perfectly welcome to direct people who want a recording to purchase one of their CDs from store X down the way? The stores will have an economic incentive for street performers to be there (speaking their language) and will be less likely to support the draconian downtown ordinances, and musicians can concentrate on what most matters to them: making music for the enjoyment of passers-by. If that's not your primary goal as a street performer, why are you there?

This does not preclude the taking of donations. Hardly. Musicians are performing a service and quite rightly should take donations in my opinion. But when you sell a recording, you add no value. Anyone can sell a CD. Anyone can make a CD nowadays. Not everyone can play an instrument and play it well enough to capture the imaginations of people you don't know.

No one is a saint here, but we all have to live together.
 

Musicians have rights; Musicians are a benefit.

Selling a CD that you have made yourself (i.e. your own artistic product)is protected in New York City under the Federal Constitution (though local merchants have tried to ban it) under the Lederman decision (several of them actually).
But Santa Cruz musicians, intimidated by police harassment, don't even go so far as to make that claim. They simply have a "donations" sign out. Or they surreptitiously attempt to sell to those who seem interested.
On January 15th, the rest of the Downtown Ordinances will kick in making it illegal for street performers and activists with any kind of sign to (a) solicit from a seated position, (b) solicit after dark, (c) solicit in a group of two, and (d) solicit from 95% of the sidewalks in business districts. The Downtown Commission, charged with finding "exemption zones" has thrown up its hands on this matter--and properly so. It's a constitutional and social nightmare.
Musicians, panhandlers, and just plain sitters have already been driven away from the curb areas in front of all the sidewalk cafes (under the original 1994 Coonerty Cafe law). Cosmic Chris the guitarist reports that cops are now not allowing him to play either seated on a public bench or in front of vacant storefronts like the Cooperhouse.
The voluntary Street Performers Guidelines have thus been actively and thoroughly destroyed. Numerous reports from the street indicate that the social engineers who gave us the Downtown Ordinances and the New Leaf-Sushi Now fenced off public area, are now planning to eliminate sitting areas near Costa Brava and Cooperhouse by moving the green spiked fence along the planter outward so that it walls off areas currently used for sitting. Call Mayor Krohn at 420-5023 and Vice (soon to be full) Mayor Reilly at 420-5022)and express your concerns.
The presence of street performers doing their art on the avenue, even if they take some money for it, I believe draws more people (with money) to town than it takes away from the trinket salespeople in the shops.
Further street performers are frequently needier--another dimension to consider.
What kind of community do we want here in Santa Cruz? Those with power at the center (the Redevelopment Agency, the Police, the Hosts, the Parks & Rec, the City Council, the Downtown Association) say one thing with their disappearing benches, downtown ordinances, fenced-off public areas, and city council-sanctioned selective enforcement policies. The community in general says something quite different.
Clearly the community needs to find ways to take back the sidewalks and streets and return more traditional Santa Cruz inclusionary values (though, admittedly, it's always been a struggle).
Come to Merrie Mondays 4-6 PM to hear candidates spout, see videos on past street struggles, and munch Food Not Bombs veggie edibles, as well as fight Bush's War in Iraq.

--Robert Norse Downtown For All.
 

Please read important legal resource cited

see
Ward vs Rock Against Racism in US Sup Court
and
Sunn vs City of Honolulu
 

Street performing

Dear David,
I can only sympathise you on your ordeal with the police when you were performing on Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz.
I am a former street performer myself, having visited most of Europe and through my playing have visited North Africa and am currently living in Brazil and have my own production company.
The great problem of performing in public places and having very loose laws is that if the police receive only one complaint they have to act on it. Not that they want to as I'm sure they would rather be sitting down in a quiet corner drinking coffee (wouldn't we all!).
Some places have a more official law - Geneva for example, and others ban it completely - like Zurich (I was fined twice). One time many years ago I was in Esjborg in Denmark and was stopped by the police. They advised me in a very polite manner (in English)that I needed permission from the Police to perform.
"Well you are a policeman. May I play here?", I asked. They asked me when I was to leave Esjborg and I informed them it would be the following day. They laughed and said okay.
True story, but could have been different if one of the policemen had an argument with his wife that morning or the police had complaints filed about the noise.
What I'm trying to say is that it's really pot luck as to be taken in or had to pay a fine. It's part of the job. And let there be no mistake made a good street performer if he is not lazy can afford to pay the fine as he knows in around two hours he will make the money back (but that's just between you and me!).
 

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