Mudcat Café message #2899294 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #129165   Message #2899294
Posted By: Genie
03-May-10 - 03:41 PM
Thread Name: NW Folklife threatens street performers (Seattle)
Subject: RE: NW Folklife threatens street performers
I agree that the Folklife Festival has gotten too big, too all-encompassing as to what "folk" means, too commercialized, and TOO LOUD.    I also agree that when a musician like Reggie is forceably removed from a location that was not blocking foot traffic or when threats are made to report people to the IRS, that's too heavy handed.

Still, the Folklife people do pay big bucks to rent space for the festival and the scheduled performers are volunteers (who pay the Festival a cut of any CDs they sell), plus the walkways are already hard to navigate because of the crowds, even without the addition of street performers every few feet.   (In many cases, the open instrument case pushes the bystander audience farther away, thus interfering with the walkway traffic even more. I often cut between the performer and the assembled audience because it's too cumbersome and time-consuming to go around that crowd.) I empathize a lot with the volunteer performers who find other, non-scheduled musicians competing with them and getting paid by donations or selling their CDs without giving the Festival organizers a cut.

You can't deny that whatever a busker takes in in tips at the festival is at least partly due to the crowds drawn to the Seattle Center by the festival itself and its advertising.    If that weren't the case, why wouldn't most of those buskers be at the Seattle Center the week before or the week after Folklife?

There are spaces outside the Folklife "gates" where there are always many unauthorized street vendors and performers, and I don't know if they get hassled for being there, but they don't interfere with the movement of the crowds as much.

Reggie, I've never known you to be one of the buskers who creates a bottleneck along the walkways or who makes so much noise that it interferes with other performers (scheduled or not scheduled).       But many of them do, and I can appreciate why the Festival organizers and the Seattle Center "cops" try to control that.

As for buskers being paid for what scheduled performers do free, maybe there should be tip jars at the front of each stage so the scheduled performers could get donations too.   It wouldn't solve the excess noise problem (which I think would be helped by turning down the amps on most of the stages to a mild roar) or the traffic interference, but it would be fairer.      

And I would hope that all those who made money by performing would contribute 10% or so of the take to the Festival for providing such a huge audience.