Faneuil Hall Street Performer

On June 1st, Boston’s incredible Faneuil Hall street performers are going on strike.

They have been told that from June onwards a new set of rules will be in place, with arbitrary restrictions intended to harm the livelihoods of the performers who make the market the vibrant tourist destination that it is today (just look at all these 5 star reviews on TripAdvisor).

The following is a letter to Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation and Faneuil Hall Marketplace Merchants Association, who are treating artists on one of the most celebrated busker pitches on the planet like pests to be dealt with.

Dear Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation,
We congratulate you for backing down on plans to burden Boston’s street performers with the most expensive license system in the world.

However, the new regulations are still an insult to every busker at Faneuil Hall, and an abuse of both freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

For example, you say the performers can’t mention any denominations when they wrap up their shows.

But as you know, this is a non-standard venue, so performers need to remind audiences that their lively, difficult, professional, 45-minute shows are worth more than a few coins.

Why should we all care about hat lines? Because people who can afford to give larger amounts essentially subsidise those who can’t afford anything at all. Hat lines convince enough people to give $10 and $20 bills that entertainers can continue to give their art away for free to everyone else.

Anyway, what bizarre reading the rest of your proposal makes!

You can dictate how long their shows must be, how many they must do per hour, what equipment they can use, where and when they can perform, and for what reasons they’re allowed to cancel a show. In other words, you can force an entertainer to get on his unicycle in exhausting 95º heat for a crowd of just two people, and if he ignores you he can be “banned” from the program.

The real kicker is that you’re doing this at Faneuil Hall, “the Cradle of Liberty”, where oppressed Americans disputed the right of an external power to control them. AAC, from your board room on Madison Avenue, New York City, please consider how poignant that is.

(A side note; Boston also happens to be the city in which Benjamin Franklin himself took to the streets with his poetry. Nobody told him what he could say.)

Before this turns into something bigger, think about your reputation, your brand, your common sense and your wallets. Work WITH the street performers to come up with a sensible policy that is good for you both.


The Busking Project, fans of the hard-working, fun-loving and free entertainers of Faneuil Hall Marketplace