Buskers hit bum note with council

by Aisling Kennedy

THE sound of buskers playing on the city streets is hitting the wrong note with Dublin City Council (DCC).
The local authority’s threat to place a ban on buskers’ amplifiers on the streets of the capital has exploded again this week following the issuing of a draft report on the revision of Street Performance Bye-Laws by DCC recently.
According to the new draft report, dated March 14, DCC states that despite the introduction of the Dublin City Street Performers Bye-Laws on April 7, 2015, busking “continues to cause significant daily problems and discomfort for businesses, residents and members of the public”.
The council said that the core recurring issue – and the subject of the vast majority of complaints – remains the noise level generated by amplifiers and backing tracks.
In the report, DCC also suggests that amplified music creates an unfair playing pitch for performers who cannot afford high-quality equipment. It suggests that eliminating amplifiers may allow for a greater number and variety of acts to perform on the streets.
The council said: “Having reviewed the matter in the context of not just this public consultation, but our experience over the past number of years, it is now the view of management that the use of amplification and backing tracks must be banned entirely.”
Supporting the council’s recommendation to ban the use of amplifiers by buskers is the Temple Bar Residents’ Association, which recently issued a letter to all local county councillors asking them to support DCC’s draft review of the Dublin City Street Performers Bye-Laws.
In the letter, the chair of the association, Frank McDonald, asked local councillors to support and “endorse the review of the Street Performers Bye-Laws and, in particular, call for an end to the use of amplifiers by buskers in the city”.
He said: “There are 2,200 people living in Temple Bar, and we’re at the frontline of amplified busking, notably in and around Temple Bar Square.
“This has become a major noise zone, reinforced by the use of external loudspeakers by no less than three licensed premises.
“Since the advent of this noise nuisance in recent years, Temple Bar is now attracting a rougher crowd of customers, attracted to an area that they perceive to be out of control, which it largely is.
“There are flats in Crown Alley that are uninhabitable as a result, and others on Temple Bar Square that are hard to let.”
In response to DCC’s draft report on the revision of Street Performance Bye-Laws, however, Fergal O’Rourke, director of the Dublin City Buskers Association (DCB), said: “DCB members are respecting the current regulatory system as far as practical, but are subject to scapegoating for the activities of non-permitted performers and other public nuisance generally.
“If they’re saying Temple Bar is a problem area, that’s one of many problems, and I don’t think you can put the noise squarely down to amplifiers alone.
“The reality is, if they are comparing Temple Bar to 20 or 30 years ago, realistically we have a lot more people, activity, noise, and technology now.”
He added: “Our position remains that we cannot support the slow creep of poor legislation, eventually amounting to an outright ban on street performance – notably, the proposed amplifier ban and increases of the number of ‘prohibited zones’, including the GPO, O’Connell St.”

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