Since 1985, freelance artistic performance has been legal in the New York subway system. With no permits, schedules, or auditions, freelance performers have delighted generations of subway riders — and their approval ratings have soared above the MTA’s own.
Yet freelance performers continue to face vivid challenges. Far from being acclaimed for their contribution to New York’s artistic life, they are ejected, ticketed, and even arrested by NYPD officers unaware of MTA rules permitting artistic performance. We think it’s time for that to change.
We believe in a New York where public performance is a vibrant and celebrated part of artistic life.
Ending wrongful arrest is not easy. It requires providing accurate information about the legality of subway performance to MTA officials, NYPD officers, and to every subway rider; assisting subway performers in advocating for themselves when their rights are violated; and promoting, organizing, and curating events and exhibitions that celebrate the diversity and the excellence of New York City’s subway art.