Mudcat Café Message Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafeawe

User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
reggie miles NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle) (162* d) NW Folklife threatens street performers 29 Apr 10

I surprised to get a phone call from a friend and fellow street performer the other day. He was dismayed by some news that he had learned about playing at the NW Folklife Festival this year.

This year, he was scheduled to perform at the event. He was excited about that. Like me, he gets invitations to play at events and he had been looking forward to this opportunity. He was going to organize a group performance with some other friends for this year's event.

He told me that while at the festival he was also planning to perform for donations with his friends. While talking with the folks at NW Folklife he learned that they had adopted a new tactic this year to crack down on street performers. He said that they were going to report street performers to the IRS who did not comply with their list of demands.

Upon hearing this news, he told the organizers that he and his friends weren't interested in performing this year. I was as surprised as he was to hear about this new tool in their anti-street performing arsenal. Their list of rules is long, restricting those who engage in this First Amendment protected activity and copied almost to the letter from a similar list that was being used to restrict street performers by those managing the Seattle Center.

A street performer challenged the Seattle Center's rules and won his case against the Seattle Center and the City of Seattle in June of 2009, just two weeks after I was bounced from the event. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit heard the case with 11 judges and in an 8 to 3 decision, they invalidated five specific rules. The Court said that the City of Seattle could not:

1. require the application for permits to perform on public property
2. ask performers to display a permit for entertaining on public property
3. tell performers where they could perform on public property
4. tell performer how close they could be to any gathered group of people
5. restrict what performers could say to their audiences

In short, what I do on public property as a street performer, is protected by the First Amendment as freedon of expression. At the following link, you can Read the Court's ruling.

It was number 3 on the above list that the NW Folklife head of security used to harass me, while I was entertaining folks at the event. At last year's NW Folklife event I was forcibly evicted from the grounds of the Seattle Center by four officers of the SPD (Seattle Police Department) because I stood up to being bullied by the festival's head of security. (I told him that the only problem I saw was him.) What had I done wrong? I choose to sit in the shade of a covered walkway at the far northern edge of the event and entertain about a dozen folks (at their request) offering folk music with my folk instruments at this "supposed" folk music event.

The NW Folklife Festival is a free event, held on public property, the Seattle Center. The Seattle Center is a public park. According to the Court's decision on the matter, that makes my activities as a street performer beyond the forced control of the rules of the festival.

NW Folklife specifically demands that they have the right tell performers where they can and cannot perform, how close performers can be to a gathered group of folks at the event. Plus, they wish to collect a tax of %15 of anything that listeners might freely offer to street performers as support. They require street performers to pay a $10 fee for the right to exercise their First Amendment right to freedom of expression on the ground of the Seattle Center, a public park. Finally they require street performers to get a temporary business license, a $20 fee.

Here's the link to their rules.

See for your self.

NW Folklife has not paid a single performer for their skills and talents to entertain at this event in the last 3 decades since I've been donating my time there. Now, they not only wish to deny the right to freedom of expression, but they want to street performers to pay for that right. Rights are not privileges to be controlled by power hungry event coordinators and they have no right treating our rights in that manner!

To my friends on the other side of the pond, suffering from the hands of those termed fascists. Know that we too, here in the land of the "free", do suffer from creative oppression as well, from those who I would also term as having a mentality that's not far from fascist.

Post to this Thread -

Back to the Main Forum Page

By clicking on the User Name, you will requery the forum for that user. You will see everything that he or she has posted with that Mudcat name.

By clicking on the Thread Name, you will be sent to the Forum on that thread as if you selected it from the main Mudcat Forum page.
   * Click on the linked number with * to view the thread split into pages (click "d" for chronologically descending).

By clicking on the Subject, you will also go to the thread as if you selected it from the original Forum page, but also go directly to that particular message.

By clicking on the Date (Posted), you will dig out every message posted that day.

Try it all, you will see.