Buskers in Melbourne CBD now facing high standards to be granted permits

The new regulations, which today saw hopeful buskers starting to audition for the spots, will only give permits to individual artists wanting to perform in the CBD hot spot.

“Circle acts”, jugglers, cartoonists, poem writers, balloon artists, musical duos and trios are all ruled out of performing in Melbourne’s prized Bourke Street Mall location under the new guidelines.

But musicians who pass the standards of a public panel will be granted permits to perform in the coveted shopping district.

The Melbourne City Council updated its busker policy after receiving complaints about noise pollution and acts being of “poor quality”. The overhaul, announced in 2017, signalled a slew of acts would no longer be allowed to perform for money, including animal acts, yoyo tricks, spray painting vinyl records, balloon art and spontaneous poetry according to the ABC.

Those artists will need to obtain “street trader” permits by the middle of this year.

Musicians wanting premium busking permits, allowing them to perform in Bourke Street, will have to be able to prove they are “professional buskers”. These are buskers who make most of their income from busking and have a social media presence and website and, they’ll have to be able to perform a half-hour set without repeating a song.

Applying for one of these permits will cost $70 a year; those musicians wanting to sell albums will have to pay another $100, according to the City of Melbourne.

If granted a coveted place to perform in Bourke Street Mall, the premium permit holders will have to attend a weekly meeting where they will be randomly assigned their performances spaces throughout the mall, according to the council’s new guidelines.

Performers have also had their noise limit cut from 82 decibels to 79 over a three metre range in Bourke Street Mall.

“It is about a distribution thing, mainly. It’s also about how we regulate street trading, because there’s a much more commercial element to it,” Councillor Rohan Leppert told the ABC, saying the new measures would prevent clusters of street traders in the CBD.

All other performers will have to apply online for other kinds of permits, and all Melbourne buskers now have to undergo safety reviews.

Buskers using “flammable substances or modified knives, whips and swords,” are still allowed throughout Melbourne so long as they’ve been approved by a City of Melbourne representative.


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