GCBA Proposal on Busking 2017

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The Galway City Business Association (GCBA) recognises that street performance and busking are time honoured art forms which enhance the attractiveness and colour of the city. They make an important contribution to our cultural life and are greatly enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. Galway is renowned for its artistic and cultural life and Galway City Council actively encourages performers to showcase their talent in the city.

While in no way wishing to diminish the importance of busking and street performing in Galway, the GCBA business owners are responsible for the health, safety and wellbeing of thousands of retail workers in the city centre. The GCBA members are trading in Galway City centre twelve months of the year and feel that it is important to implement Bylaws for busking and street performing in a similar way to what has been successfully implemented by Dublin City Council.

There are three main principles behind the necessity for Bylaws regulating this area:

·         A balance is necessary to ensure that street performances do not cause nuisance, disturb public amenity or adversely affect the ability of commercial premises to conduct business; the right of local residents to peace and quiet and the safe passage of pedestrians

·         Staff in city centre retail and hospitality premises need to be protected when it comes to excessive noise

·         A healthy and progressive system of Bylaws regulating busking and street performing for the enjoyment of all will lead to an even more successful, vibrant and colourful Galway City centre

The GCBA would encourage Galway City Council to implement a new Bylaw without delay incorporating the following key elements:

1.    Permits – After consultation with buskers and members of the public we do not believe a permit should be necessary to perform in the city centre. The ad hoc nature of the performance art means that performers should be able to perform freely as long as they adhere to the guidelines and bylaws.

2.     Reservation of Performance Locations and Mobility - Pitches may not be saved by early arrival.  A Performer must begin performing once the pitch is established. The maximum time a Performer may use a pitch is 2 hours. Performers cannot monopolise a pitch. If another Performer requests your pitch, you must relinquish your pitch to the new Performer within 90 minutes of the request. If a Performer must stop performing because of inclement weather at the pitch and does not abandon the pitch, the Performer may resume performing at that pitch once the weather permits, subject to the maximum performance time allowed.

3.     Adjacent Performers - A Performer shall not perform within 50 metres of another performer. When a performer relocates, it must be to a different pitch at least 50 metres from his or her previous location.

4.     Amplification – The excessive use of Amplifiers is a huge problem for city centre retailers. Many retailers cannot operate an open-door policy because of amplified music being played directly outside their premises. This is upsetting for staff that cannot communicate with customers and greatly hinders the ability of these retailers to trade successfully. We feel strongly that amplifiers are not necessary for quality performers. The good quality, talented performers will attract crowds and support without the need for amplifiers.

5.     Obstructions - Street Performers must show consideration for the public, businesses and residents on streets where they perform. A Street Performer must not block the entrance to any premises or residence. Performance within 3 metres of the entrance to or window of a business premises is not permitted during the opening hours of the business. Street Performance within 3 metres of residential premises is not permitted at any time. Street Performers must ensure that no aspect of their performance blocks, obstructs or interferes with the free and safe movement of pedestrians. Street Performers are solely responsible for their equipment, props and instruments. These must not be left unattended and Street Performers must ensure that they are not placed in such a way as to cause an obstruction in a public place.

6.     Existing Bylaws relating to cut-off times for busking and street performing should be retained and enforced.

7.     Street Performers may not charge members of the public a fee but may receive donations for their performance. Persistent or aggressive solicitation of donations is not permitted.

8. Circle Acts – Street Performers who have a structured performance based on elements of street theatre, acrobatics, dance etc. and which may incorporate the use of dangerous props are commonly referred to as Circle Acts. Circle Act Performers should ensure that their location is appropriate and sufficiently large as to ensure that the act or the watching crowd do not block or disrupt a street. Street Performers or Circle Act Performers using potentially dangerous props must hold public liability insurance and indemnify Galway City Council. A copy of the insurance certificate must be submitted with the application form. If the insurance expires before the permit expires, the Permit holder must submit a copy of the new insurance certificate. Due to the nature of their performances Circle Acts must ensure there is a clear separation between the performers and the audience and ensure that there is a clear space outside the audience area to allow the safe passage of pedestrians.

Bandstand for Eyre Square

The GCBA has put forward the idea of installing a bespoke public bandstand area in Eyre Square. This facility would be available for public performances and civic events and encourage a variety of performance opportunities and activities in a central location. The GCBA has fundraised money for a capital project of this nature through their involvement in the Christmas Market and are calling on Galway City Council to fund a project or initiative of this nature.