Buskers protest over proposed new bylaws in Galway

Bylaw would ban buskers from performing in any one place for more than two hours

Sean-nós dancer Thomas Connolly performs with musician Seamus the Busker in Galway city centre during the Galway Buskers’ Community all-day performance to highlight opposition to new busking regulations. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Sean-nós dancer Thomas Connolly performs with musician Seamus the Busker in Galway city centre during the Galway Buskers’ Community all-day performance to highlight opposition to new busking regulations. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

 

Early morning sleet and snow and plummeting temperatures did not deter musicians striking up in Galway on Sunday for a “big busk” over proposed new bylaws.

“Our art, our streets, our responsibility” is the slogan adopted by the Galway Buskers’ Community, which has called for “real engagement” by Galway City Council over changes to existing legislation on street performances in the unofficial cultural capital.

Singing Kathy’s Song, Galway musician Sonny Casey opened the day-long musical protest with German violinist Merle Schumann, while Portuguese busker Fabio Goncales gave the final touches to a tent pitched for the event on William Street.

The draft bylaws, which are currently open to public consultation, prohibit buskers from performing in any one place for more than two hours.

The laws propose that amplification can only be used after 6pm, and by way of battery powered portable equipment before that time and drum kits are banned.

Infringement

One proposed rule says a street performer “shall not act, say, do or sing anything that is likely to cause alarm, distress or offence to any member of the public , any business owner or occupier, the council and/or any member of an Garda Síochána”.

Galway Buskers’ Community spokeswoman and musician Niceol Blue said that this particular regulation could be interpreted as an infringement on freedom of speech.

She noted that amplification is used outside many pubs, and that buskers should not therefore be singled out.

The code proposes that audio acts should be kept to a level that does not extend further than 35 metres, allowing for the specific location and time.

It also suggests that performers should keep entrances and emergency exits clear, and manage a crowd or audience to the best of their ability.

The busking community involves some 60 musicians and street performers, about 30 of whom are in Galway all year round, she said.

The council said that submissions and observations would be accepted up until December 20th, reports would follow, and there would be no decision by the full council before the first quarter of 2018.