Buskers have breathed a sigh of relief as Melbourne City Council delays its crackdown on busking guidelines for the second time this year. Vinyl record painters, portrait artists, caricaturists and balloon art sculptors could lose their livelihoods if the council decides to revoke their permits. The proposal responds to several complaints about the quality of busking in Melbourne. Anna Lange has been spray painting vinyl records on the streets of Melbourne for five years for GoVinyls and is one of many buskers who may be unable to renew their license.
“The council loves to say that Melbourne is diverse with artists and buskers, but then these changes seem to go against what they say”, Mrs Lange said. Anna and her husband will consider leaving Melbourne if she is unable to renew her license. “People are not as generous with money anymore, it makes it really challenging to live like this”, Mrs Lange said. The proposed changes will also invite the public to take part in the auditioning process for Premium Busking licenses. Of the 2,000 current busking permit holders in Melbourne, 110 artists hold premium permits, allowing them to secure a performance spot in the Bourke Street Mall.
Musician Gareth Wiecko has been busking in Bourke Street Mall for two years and said that the regulations enforced by the council makes Melbourne the “best city for busking”. “We’ve had representatives come and talk with the buskers and together we will come to a decision”, Mr Wiecko said in response to the proposed busking laws.
The proposed changes will mean that buskers will audition digitally, instead of a live audition in front of a panel of judges. Mr Wiecko said it will be “difficult” to have the public included in the decision. “I don’t think it’s fair that the public decide if you can make a living out of busking”, Mr Wiecko said. By including the public in the decision-making process, the City of Melbourne aim to promote busking in a way that lets the spectator have a voice.
A survey by the City of Melbourne found that 88 percent of stakeholders agreed that busking is a positive part of life in Melbourne.The deferred proposal will be further considered at a council meeting in November.