The council wants to work with Melbourne’s buskers to monitor and manage sound levels. (1 News Express)
Buskers who want to perform in central Melbourne will have to face a public audition to secure a prime spot under a city council plan to overhaul the rules for street musicians and artists.
But the proposals, which would also ban some types of street performers and introduce tougher noise restrictions, have angered some buskers.
City of Melbourne busking permits would no longer be issued for 41 different types of street performances, including balloon art, spontaneous poetry, spray painting of vinyl records, calligraphy, animal performances and yo-yo tricks.
Under the proposed guidelines, the council would introduce premium busking permits for prime locations including the Bourke Street Mall, Southbank Promenade, Swanston and Elizabeth streets.
Audition plan ludicrous, buskers say
Temporary permits will also be issued for interstate and international performers.
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said the aim was to showcase the best talent while improving the application process for artists.
“The new handbook will ensure our 2,000 buskers and performers continue to add a sense of vibrancy, ambience and atmosphere to the world’s most liveable city,” Councillor Doyle said.
“One thing I love in this plan is that the community can have their say on who gets the coveted premium busking permits via a new public auditions process which will raise the profile of our street performers while increasing the awareness of local talent.”
The existing busking guidelines have been in place for six years but a recent review found complaints about poor quality acts and excessive noise.
The council plans to work with buskers to monitor and manage sound levels.
The move angered some existing city buskers including Mike W, who has been performing in the central business district for 28 years.
“To get people to come out here like performing zoo animals and have members of the public voting on whether or not they will be privileged enough to busk is absolutely ludicrous,” he said.
He said buskers already have to undergo an audition process in what is a tough profession.
Melbournians have expressed surprise at council’s planned crackdown. (Stephen Shaw: User submitted)
“Anybody who suffers under the illusion that this is a river of gold hasn’t actually talked to buskers,” he said.
“They don’t really know what it’s like to come out and try and earn a living from busking.”
Musician Lindsay Chapman has been performing in Bourke Street for two years and said he hoped the sound restrictions were not drastically reduced.
“I hope they keep that culture instead of trying to cut it out with the rules,” Lindsay said.
Members of the public approached by the ABC expressed surprise at the council’s tougher stance on buskers.
Wendy Mountford said the changes could diminish busking.
“I think that it’ll just take away from what busking is,” she said.
Paul Brooks agreed.
“They’re not doing any harm, they’re fine, the more the merrier I think,” he said.
The proposed changes will be considered at a council meeting next week.