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Worcester City Council to Consider Amended Busking Rules

By Tom Marino | March 12, 2024
Last Updated: March 13, 2024

WORCESTER – City Manager Eric Batista has submitted an amended busking ordinance for presentation to City Council at its meeting on Tuesday, March 12.

Merriam-Webster, defines busking as, “the activity of playing music in the street or another public place for voluntary donations.”

The new proposed ordinance removed two items from the current version of Chapter 12, Section 26(h) of the revised ordinances of 2008:

  • Limitations of 12 inches by eighteen inches on the size of the sign a busker may use to request contributions are removed; and
  • The requirement for written permission of the Parks & Recreation Commission for busking within any public park, playground, or on the Worcester Common.

The controversy over the ordinance emerged in recent weeks when Batista’s administration updated the city’s website with a new permit application that restricted busking in three public parks to those issued a permit by the city, which included a $50 fee. That permit would be valid for two weeks.

The removal of the requirement for written permission effectively ends the fee requirement.

The new proposed ordinance also adds a restriction on where buskers can perform. The new restriction prohibits a busker from performing within 100 feet of “a permitted activity in a public park, playground or the Worcester Common.”

In response to an inquiry by This Week in Worcester about the use of the word permitted, a representative of the city manager’s administration said the language refers to an event that received a permit from the city. Buskers would be required to remain 100 feet away from those events.

The revised ordinance is item 11.15A on the City Council agenda for its meeting on Tuesday, March 12. The meeting begins at 6:30 PM inside the Esther Howland (South) Chamber at Worcester City Hall.

The meeting can be joined by Zoom or by phone at (929) 205 6099 and using access code 917 2757 4825. The meeting is also streamed on the city’s Facebook page.

See the full proposed ordinance below.

Page 5 of Worcester Proposed Busking Ordinance Amendment March 12 2024

Contributed to DocumentCloud by Tom Marino (This Week in Worcester) • View document or read text

March 13, 10:42 AM: This piece was updated on  to clarify language about “permitted activities” and the restrictions on busking in public parks

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