Buskers wrongful arrest settle with NYC

I am never happy writing about abuses I have seen or heard about authorities wanting to harass or worse, incarcerate artists for performing in the subway. The right to legally be able to perform in public spaces was won 30 years ago. I was part of the wonderful BuskNY celebration of that case last summer. You can read more about it and the law in a previous blog: Busking Legal Right Since 1985

There was a case last year that broke my heart, but also showed the strength of human spirit. Andrew Kalleen was performing his acoustic guitar on a Brooklyn platform when he was wrongfully arrested. The video capturing the arrest and entire experience has been seen over 1.5 million times on youtube. I blogged about it at the time Busking Is Not A Crime

Thanks to the exhausting work of Andrew to break through the system and with the support of other artists also wrongfully arrested a case was created and recently settled with the city this past April. You can read more in an article in Gothamist.

I applaud the advocacy group BuskNY which works tirelessly to bring attention, education and support to artists wrongfully arrested or harassed. Here is an excerpt from the Gothamist:
'BuskNY, an advocacy group for underground buskers, announced that the city has strummed up over $100,000 in settlements for the wrongful arrests of performers.
Musicians and activists gathered in the Union Ave. station in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Saturday to celebrate the milestone.
Guitarist James Gallagher, 44, and his rapper partner James Woodard, 25, won a recent suit against the city for $54,500.
“You’re not going to become a millionaire down here,” Gallagher said. “But if you want to practice your art and pay your bills, I recommend it.”
Since 1985, music and art performances have been legal in the New York subway system — with no permits needed."
Congratulations to Jadon, James, and Andrew for their hard work getting this news out there.

Busking Legal right since 1985

As part of the New York City busking community, I am keenly aware of the importance of live music and art in public spaces.  Most people seem confused whether it is legal to perform in the subway. There is a conflicting belief that you can only perform if you are in the Music Under NY Program. But actually there is a legal precedent giving the right to perform. In 1985 a court case People v. Manning gave performers the constitutional protection for their artistic performances in New York City.

A Festival produced by Busk NY celebrating the 30 years will be held Saturday August 23rd at Herbert Von King Park in Brooklyn from 3-7pm. 670 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216

I will be performing with other buskers.  Would love to see you there and get a chance to see buskers having a chance to perform on stage to an audience that isn’t rushing past!! Thanks to Council Member Robert Cornegy, Jr for his support.

BuskNY has a crowdfunding campaign to help fund the Busking at 30 event.  Please consider donating.  The work that BuskNY does, ensures that the rights of buskers are being served 365 days a year. Your support means a lot.

My page For Buskers has detailed information about knowing your rights as a busker in NYC, in the subway's and parks. You can also find lots of good info including MTA’s Rules Of Conduct 1050.6 c where it states the legal right to perform.  Also big kudos to City Lore, Susie Tanenbaum along with The Street Performers Advocacy Project who have created A Guide For Street Performers 

If you want to know more about BuskNY you can contact

Matthew Christian: matthew@buskny.com