Sunday, April 13, 2014

More about the City Market

So instead of paying too much for performer space at the market, we decided to perform in the park nearby.  Deb Conners came and told Dan he wasn't allowed to be there.  He disagreed with her because the market itself has been traditionally a public forum and public parks even more so.  As he explained it to me, if there are benches that homeless people can and do sleep on, grass that dogs can and do poop on, how can she say it's private and no performers are allowed.  Later he noticed the sign which does lead credence to his train of thought.  A sign put up by the city itself.  The market was so much of a valued public forum that they immortalized it in bronze.

Deb did say that if we got all the licenses required we could have a full booth and be regular vendors selling stuff besides balloons.  That part was interesting to me.   I know people on the waiting list to get a space on Saturday and I have been told previously that there are no more.  Suddenly there is and I'm offered one, but the people on the waiting list are not.

More importantly she's saying we can't be performers we have to be vendors.  I much prefer busking.  I don't set prices and let people tip me if they are happy with how I have made them feel.  Usually works out well for me.  Sometimes people don't toss anything my way, but so what.  It's part of busking.  I value the freedom of working that way.  I don't have to set up by a certain time and only leave after a certain time.  I do pay state and federal income tax on my tips - always have, but I'm not selling anything so I don't have to worry about sales tax.  I don't have to worry about making a certain amount to just break even for the day.  Being focused on money saps the energy and sucks away the spontaneity of performing.  I don't want to vend.  I don't want to sell.

I do have other options for places to busk on the weekends and it doesn't worry me to lose income from the City Market.  That doesn't make Deb's micromanagement of performers right.  If she wants to dictate so much then she needs to HIRE people to perform and PAY them to do what she wants.  Don't abuse the artists who work for tips.  If you're lucky enough to have talented musicians, magicians, balloon artists, living statues, jugglers and so on who want to perform without cost to you, let them.  Don't make it impossible.  I'm not saying it should be a free for all.  Make certain places off limits and buskers will take care of the rest.  We're very good at staying out of each other's way.  For many years that system worked well at the market.  A few people didn't follow the rules of checking in and they were always asked to leave.  we stayed out of walkways and the sheds.

Sometimes it seems to me that Deb wasn't happy that we did earn money.  That's why balloon artists and face painters are the only people being charged.

Several people told Dan they were thrilled to see him there on Saturday and I have close to two dozen emails asking me why we haven't been there.  After so many years we've got a little following and I didn't realize how much they appreciated us until I started getting the letters.  It really made me smile.

I wish I had an answer to give them.  I can afford the booth space, but why should I be forced to vend when I want to perform?

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