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Geoffrey Croft's Coverage of performer issue

Geoffrey Croft's Coverage of performer issue

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Published by artistpres
Very detailed expose on parks dept lying
Very detailed expose on parks dept lying

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Published by: artistpres on May 08, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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http://awalkintheparknyc.blogspot.com/FromA Walk In The Park BlogWEDNESDAY, MAY 8, 2013 New Park "Vendor" Rules Won't Affect Performers - City. Commish Lies Over Responsibility For 2011 Crack-Down"Although those rules are written, you're saying that none of those rules is going to beenforced on us. Excuse me but that's a contradiction and that confuses the entire room."- Joe Mangrum to Manhattan Borough Parks Commissioner William Castro.Colin Huggins playing in the Washington Square Park over the weekend. In 2011 hereceived numerous summonses from Park Enforcement Patrol officers in a crackdown on performers carried out by the Parks Department. Under new rules adopted by the agency,the city classifies "entertainers" who solicit donations in parks as "vendors," requiringlicenses and special permits. Yet at a Community Board 2 meeting last week, ManhattanBorough Parks Commissioner William Castro said the new rules won't be enforced,leaving many people scratching their heads in confusion. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYCPark Adovocates) Click on images to enlargeCastro blamed the 2011 summons crackdown against performers and musicians on asingle PEP officer, an assertion vehemently denied by those involved. The ticket blitzgenerated a public outcry and considerable media attention.The revised park rules for performers and musicians go into effect on May 8th. There aretwo PEP officers and one supervisor assigned to cover 59th Street to the Battery inManhattan.ManhattanBy Geoffrey CroftThe Parks Department spent last week backpedaling from its 2011 ticket-blitz onmusicians and performers in Washington Square Park, pinning the blame on oneoverzealous Parks Enforcement Patrol officer – yet it refused to reverse the rule changesthat led to the crackdown, and in fact added more restrictive language.Confusion and disbelief reigned at a meeting of Manhattan Community Board 2’s ParksCommittee, as a senior Parks official vowed the new rules, which go into effect May 8,won’t stop musicians and other performers from playing in Washington Square Park.The City is attempting to classify performers and musicians "providing entertainment"who solicit donations in parks as "vendors" under new rules adopted by the agency.
On April 2, the department quietly held a public meeting that finalized the changes.The new rule is aimed at controlling revenue production in parks, and cracking down onlong-protected rights critics say, and violators face fines of up to $250 for a first offenseand up to $1,000 thereafter.According to Parks however, the purpose of the new rules is to "clarify the Department’soriginal intent that individuals providing entertainment, such as musical performances, juggling, dance, or other performance arts in exchange for a fee or for a donation areconsidered vendors.”§ 2. Section 1-05(b) of Title 56 of the Official Compilation of the Rules of the City of  New York has now been amended to read as follows: "No person in or on any propertyunder the jurisdiction of the Department shall sell, offer for sale, hire, lease or letanything whatsoever, including, but not limited to goods, services, or entertainment, or  provide or offer to provide services or items, or entertainment in exchange for a donation(hereinafter ‘vend’), except under and within the terms of a permit, or except as otherwise provided by law.”Steven Goulden, acting corporation counsel in the city's Law Department, signed thisamendment dated December 28, 2012. On January 29, 2013 Hunter Gradie from theMayor’s Office of Operations, analyzed the proposed rule Pursuant to Charter section1043(d).In 2011, street performers were aggressively targeted by the Bloomberg administrationunder the new rule’s prohibition against collecting donations near landmarks or monuments in parks under the Parks Department's Expressive Matter vending rules. PEPofficers were instructed to ticket performers and musicians for unlawful vending andunlawful assembly. Several performers were threatened with arrest. Joe Mangrum making one of his signature sand creations in Washington Square Park onFriday. During the initiative in 2011 he received six tickets over several weeks, five inWashington Square Park and one in Union Square Park totaling $4,750 in fines.On Thursday April 25th, DEP employees accompanied by a captain and plain clothesofficers from the 6th Pct, and Parks Department personnel surveyed the noise conditionscreated by musicians playing in Union Square Park. It was was quiet according to citysources."The park is for everyone, for the general public, not for (a performer) whose sole purpose is making money," William Castro told the Daily News in 2011. He was
referring to the street performance group Tic & Tac, who had been doing shows inWashington Square Park for more than 25 years.Public outcry forced the city to eventually back down. Legal action was threatened butnot before PEP officers wrote dozens of tickets. Within weeks of a December 2011 pressconference held in Washington Square Park to denounce the crackdown, the city agreedto dismiss all summonses. Many of the performers and musicians who attended the newsconference, organized by NYC Park Advocates with attorneys Norman Siegel and RonKuby, spoke of being harassed, some since the spring.In a highly controversial move earlier that year, the city had attempted to prohibit performing near Central Park's Bethesda fountain as well. A legally blind a cappellasinger was threatened with arrest after the singer received multiple summonses.However in a 180-degree turn at last week’s meeting Manhattan Borough ParksCommissioner Castro claimed performers would in fact be allowed to do many of thethings they had previously been ticketed for in 2011.Castro insisted nothing will change. This "slight adjustment to the rules," he said, “is notgoing to affect the musicians to come to the park to play."Most people at Wednesday's meeting understood Mr. Castro's explanation as the city wasnot going to enforce the rules that the Parks Department just passed. And Mr. Castro'sassurances did little to allay the fears of many in the audience."It can be confusing, I understand that," he said."It's gotten some attention through confusion, which we understand.""If you come to play music, the guys and gals who sit on the benches who play, they siton the grass, wherever, they stand right by the Garibaldi statue and play – all those places, the piano – you can play under the arch, you're fine," Castro explained."You don’t need a permit. You are not going to be told to leave the park. You're notgoing to get a ticket. You're fine. You can do that – that's not going to change. You don'thave to be x feet away from this or that or any of that jazz – you don't have to do that.If you're putting the hat out and your case is open and people traditionally put money intoit, you're fine. That's not a problem at all," Castro said.He also stressed that performers were allowed to sell CDs without a permit, as long asthey didn't have a display stand that people could trip over.Castro said the rule change had nothing to do with Washington Square Park in mindthough the distance restrictions would effectively put the park off-limits. "It's not becauseWashington Square was a problem, and we wrote this change or something," he said.

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