Saturday, April 10, 2010

Benepe's Spin Justifying Park's New Vending Rules Backfires

Benjamin Norman for The New York TimesVendors along Central Park South on Friday.

Art vendors in and around the city’s parks who oppose the parks department’s proposal to limit their numbers echo a common refrain: that the city is trying to clear them out – the art vendors are protected under the First Amendment and do not have to pay — to make space for vendors who will pay permit fees, according to the New York Times.

Now, from the vendors’ most vocal advocate,  Robert Lederman, comes evidence of a sort, although it looks backward rather than forward.

Friday, Mr. Lederman circulated a request for proposal that the Department of Parks and Recreation put out in 1993 for an art fair to run six weekends a year for five years along Central Park South. The proposal designated 160 spots for permitted art vendors.

Under the city’s current proposals, only five “expressive matter” vendors will be allowed along Central Park South.

Mr. Lederman says the 1993 plan makes the city’s claim that it needs to limit the number of vendors in order to reduce congestion rather suspect.

Read More:

In Fight for Art Vendors, a Look to the Past 

New York Times - City Room - April 9, 2010 -  By Daniel E. Slotnik

From Robert Lederman  - April 9, 2010

I just got a call from artist Bill Leonardi.

A New York Times reporter called him this morning

after talking to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.

The Parks Commissioner flatly denied that any art concession

ever took place on Central Park South, or that the

Parks Department ever solicited bids for one.

See the actual solicitation, a signed statement by

Bill Leonardi and a map of the 160 art vending spots

that were in this show for 5 years.

Ask why the Parks Commissioner has to lie about such

clearly verifiable facts as this.

Contact info for the Commissioner and a link

to the documents described are below.

For the full solicitation for bids for an art concession from

the NYC Parks Department SEE:

[Click on: Click here to begin download]

Parks Commissioner, Adrian Benepe

212 360-1305

Alessandro Olivieri, Parks legal counsel


212 360-1313

ARTIST member Bill Leonardi

718 647-4763


As part of the proposed 2010 Parks Department Rules For Expressive

Matter Vendors (aka, street artists or First Amendment protected

vendors) the Parks Department wants to limit artists along the entire

stretch of Central Park South to 5 in total. As you will see from the

attached PDF document, for many years the Parks Department operated a

huge art vending concession in the exact same location.

In that location, it allowed as many as 160 art displays to be set up

at a time. Those displays were also much larger than any legal art

display is now allowed to be under either the NYC vending laws or the

NYC Parks Department rules.

The Parks Department claims that the severe limit it is now trying to

set on First Amendment protected street artists is due to concerns for

public safety. The ARTIST group claims that the real purpose of the

Parks Department is to replace street artists with art concessions,

craft shows, food concessions and corporate promotions.

Examine the evidence. How could 160 oversized art displays be “safe”

so long as they are part of a Parks Department concession, but only 5

small art stands are “safe” if operated under the First Amendment?

Robert Lederman, President of ARTIST

For all files on the proposed Parks Department rules for artists

including the proposal, maps of the vending spaces and media coverage

go to:\


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