Current artists: Amon Azizov, Wei Chen, Qiao Fu, Gao Min, Guo Kun Sheug, Artashes Karslian, Ji Yin Jin, Li Qun, Lin Ruo, Dean Lu, Ren Jien-Guo, Jorge Rivera, Sharif Sadiq, Peter Walsh, Xiang Yue Chuan, Dario Zapata, Zhuang Xuemin

Organized by Peter Walsh, Ongoing.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Parks’ Decision to Allow Performers in Park Could Aid Artists’ Suit

The New York City Parks Department has reversed course on its policy of holding entertainers and musicians performing in city parks accountable to the same restrictive rules and regulations affecting visual artists.

In an article on the Washington Square Park Blog, Parks Spokesperson Phil Abramson announced that “Busking and entertainers are not subject to the expressive matter vending rule,” adding, “They must still abide by other park rules though such as they cannot block benches or paths, play with amplified sound, etc.” The victory for park goers and performers could aid visual artists in their ongoing suit in federal court against new expressive matter vending rules promulgated by the Parks Department beginning in 2010.

According to an article published by email on May 11, 2012 by Robert Lederman, president of the street artists’ organization A.R.T.I.S.T and a plaintiff in the visual artists suit, “The Parks Dept is now violating their entire rule revision by reversing the legal position they stated throughout the Federal lawsuit (that the rules were equally enforced against musicians and performers as well as visual artists).”

Why does the policy reversal matter?

As defendants in the lawsuit, the Parks Department needs to show that they are not targeting particular classes of people or selectively enforcing the new parks rules on vending. If they allow performers to operate in park spaces outside of the same rules that they enforce against visual artists, they will likely be in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. That clause states "no state shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

More info:

"City Backs Down On Artists & Musicians In Washington Square Park"
A Walk in the Park, May 14, 2012, by Geoffrey Croft

"City Reverses Course on Performance Crackdown at Washington Square Park – No More Ticketing and Fining of “Entertainers and Buskers”"
Washington Square Park Blog, May 11, 2012

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