Push is on to legalize busking in DTSB

A movement is underway to officially legalize busking in downtown South Bend.

Final details are being worked out, but the measure is expected to debut before the South Bend Common Council on November 11th, with a public hearing and potential vote slated for the 25th.

A quick check of downtown pedestrians today showed that few knew what the word ‘busking’ meant.

“Busking, that sounds like a furniture company,” said Ken Donnelly of South Bend.

Busking is what you call it when a musician picks up an instrument, sets down a tip jar, and performs right there on the sidewalk.

“Currently busking is neither discouraged nor encouraged as far as the city ordinances are concerned,” said Aaron Perri, Executive Director of DTSB.

That could soon change. A proposed city ordinance to regulate and legitimize busking is in the works, and yes, there would be strings attached.

“You know to say hey, it can only happen during certain hours of the day or it can only happen in certain areas,
It can't block the public right of way or whatever the case may be,” said Perri.

The idea is to draw a clear line between busking and panhandling, and to let the buskers work their magic.

“It makes it more interesting you know when you’re walking down the street, nothing is happening, that doesn’t give anyone a reason to talk about our community,” said Busker Dena Woods. “When you come downtown and you get a cultural experience that you enjoy, you know, you eat good food, good coffee, maybe some good drinks, and then you get to hear live music on a street corner, that’s something to talk about, and that’s something our downtown district really needs.”
Occasional Busker Peter Eggleson agrees. “When people are outside, you often see them starring at a glowing rectangle or listening to headphones. When people see a performer they might stop and actually take off their headphones and get to talking to people it adds community, I think.”

Details of the proposed ordinance are still being worked out, but Aaron Perri says it’s being worded in a way that would apply only to the downtown. It is also being set up as a one year pilot project.

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