Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Union Square Artist Market Threatened by New Parks Department Rule Proposal


The Parks Department has proposed new regulations that would drastically limit the number of artists allowed to sell their work in Union Square and other Manhattan parks, according to 

The Parks Department claims the rules will decrease congestion, but critics accuse the city of pushing out independent street artists in order to replace them with more lucrative vendors.

The Parks Department claims overcrowding is the reason for 
new artist restrictions (photo: Leslie Koch)

Fine artists-- known as "expressive matter vendors"-- have the right to sell their work in public spaces without paying the city a fee.

The latest Parks Department rules single out street artists and ignore other groups that contribute to the parks' congestion, many of which generate revenue for the city through permit, rental and sponsorship fees.

New rules marginalize local artists

The proposed restrictions will limit the number of artists who can sell their works in Manhattan's most popular parks.

Artists will compete on a first come, first served basis for just 18 spots in Union Square, 9 in Battery Park, 5 in Central Park South and 3 on the Highline.

Additionally, the Parks Department is limiting the physical space allotted to artists.

They must set up their stands in special areas marked with a Parks Department sticker.

The system is designed to generate conflict," writes Robert Lederman, activist and president of A.R.T.I.S.T (Artists' Response To Illegal State Tactics).

"How could 3 spots in the Highline possibly be distributed fairly, or [18] in Union Square Park when there are regularly almost 100 artists selling there?

"The agenda is to generate as much conflict as possible then use it to justify a permit and concession system for free speech in parks."

Lederman has taken the city to court numerous times over street artists' first amendment rights.

As a result of successful federal lawsuits, artists retain the legal right to sell their work on New York City streets without obtaining permits.

Read More: - March 30, 2010 - By Leslie Koch 

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