Ramón fights and wins in Grand Central

This is Ramón Peña. He’s from Puerto Rico, he’s got pipes — and he’s also one of the bravest subway performers we’ve met.

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I met Ramón in Grand Central between the 456 and shuttle, as he was being ejected. ‘Ejected’ is a funny word: in Ramón’s case, it means that two police officers were requesting him to immediately exit the subway system, with the alternative being arrest. Yes — because he was singing.

Ramón wasn’t having it. He got the police to specify further: they said a call had been made to them by the station agent, and that any responsibility for the ejection was with the MTA, not them.

Ramón took them at their word. Together with me and Yuri, a friend of his, he went out to the station booth. The station agent didn’t back up the cops: to the contrary, he said, Ramón was just making music, and that hurts no one. (I admire him, but he was adamant that his identity not be publicized).

He did, however, direct Ramón to his higher-up, the station supervisor. We waited.

The station supervisor eventually arrived, and began to run us through a list of excuses. Ramón isn’t in MUNY, he said, and wasn’t in the MUNY spot [neither of these things are legal requirements], and couldn’t he just move, and would we please turn off the camera.

We didn’t.

Ultimately, the station manager talked himself into a corner. He accepted that Ramón had the right to play, but insisted that the MTA required him to call the police over any complaint, even a wrongful one. (I asked whether he would use his discretion on any complaint — he said no — and whether he would call the police if a rider complained, quote, “that I was gay.” He said he would).

Still, he had agreed that Ramón was cleared by the rules. Ramón asked if there was any objection to his performing an encore, and there wasn’t. He reclaimed his spot, and this is what we heard:

Power changes everything, indeed, Ramón. Keep telling ’em, and keep ALL music alive beneath New York!

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Performer arrested at Metropolitan Avenue

BuskNY and the performing community were disturbed to learn of a new wrongful arrest. A longtime, well-loved performer was arrested early this morning at Metropolitan Avenue, a key station for Brooklyn performers. Fortunately, he was well-prepared: a copy of the rules of conduct was in play, and the full arrest was documented on video:

BuskNY is preparing a public response to this arrest. Please reach out if you would like to be updated. We thank this performer for standing up to the undocumented and ungrounded ejections that occur daily in New York City — and we believe, as always, that the end of wrongful ejection, ticketing, and arrest is in sight.

Busker Ball VIII

BuskNY was proud to speak at Busker Ball 8, a showcase for the city’s most vibrant freelance performers, on Thursday. Under the direction of Theo Eastwind, the latest Busker Ball brought its focus to activism, criticizing the wrongful ejections, tickets, and arrests that have plagued the NYC subway performing community.

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Grace Kalambay performs

BuskNY spoke and displayed the banner we used for our rally at City Hall, and the audience also heard a recorded update on buskers’ rights from Nick Broad of the Busking Project.

Performers included Lawrence Wilson, Eli Bridges and Ken Shoji, Theo Eastwind, Grace Kalambay, Cathie Russo, and Mr. Reed.

2014 Kickstarter: “We Are Culture” T-shirts

A couple of days ago we launched our Kickstarter campaign to make new t-shirts. They’ll be free for performers like before, and you can also get one for $25 by backing our project!

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The 2014 shirt

BuskNY 2014: “We Are Culture”

by Matthew Christian


Art by Heidi Younger, Chris Wright, Marina Ross, and Ron Richter

Art by Heidi Younger, Chris Wright, Marina Ross, and Ron Richter

We also have made a Facebook event for our art show SHOWTIME: Underground Arts, which so far features art by Chris Wright, David Everitt-Carlson, Ron Richter, Marina Ross, and Heidi Younger and will be opening October 3. We are hoping to get more artists involved before the Sept 19 deadline– if you have any art to submit or would like to perform at the opening, please send me an email at milo@buskny.com.

“SHOWTIME: Underground Arts” OPEN CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

BuskNY is pleased to announce that we are open for submissions for our upcoming exhibition. Please submit your work or share this information with any artists you know whose work is relevant to our theme!

SHOWTIME: Underground Arts”

OPEN CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

BUSKNY ART SHOW at Armature Art Space

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BuskNY and Armature Art Space invite you to submit work for “SHOWTIME,” an exhibition of art made in and about the subway and public transit.

BuskNY is an arts advocacy organization that was created in 2013. Our mission is to generate broad awareness of the legality of artistic performance in the New York City subway, in order to end wrongful ejection, ticketing, and arrest of subway performers. While our primary focus is on musicians and performing artists, we also promote the creation, promotion, and sale of art by independent artists in the subway.

Through SHOWTIME, we will support visual artists whose work deals with or is made or sold in public transit and public space, with a particular focus on art made in the subway system itself. SHOWTIME will refocus the subway art dialogue on work made by independent artists, and publicly reemphasize that all New Yorkers can participate in the creative process.

Our partner, Armature Art Space, is a Bushwick gallery that showcases local artists using traditional media. Armature, which describes itself as “the support (or “armature”) on which artists can express themselves and around which artists may build community,” has graciously offered its gallery space free of charge.

The opening reception for SHOWTIME will feature refreshments and live performances by visual artists and prominent subway musicians.

Show dates: October 3-12
Opening: Friday, October 3 7-11 PM
Submission deadline: September 19
Work dropoff times: Minimum 3 days before opening
Work pickup times: Sunday, October 12 1-5 PM
Address: Armature Art Space, 316 Weirfield St, Brooklyn, NY

Submission information appears on the following page. We appreciate your interest, and will respond to all queries in a timely manner. Please feel free to forward this message to other artists, and to connect with us online at buskny.com or armatureartspace.org.

Milo Wissig

BuskNY Co-founder

milo@buskny.com


Submissions

Please send all submissions and inquiries to Milo Wissig, milo@buskny.com, with SHOWTIME SUBMISSION in the subject line. Please include an image of the piece[s] you would like to submit with the file name formatted as: Name_Title_HeightxWidthxDepth_Medium_Year.jpg.

The images should be 72 DPI JPEGs about 1000 pixels wide. Please include the following information:

Name

Title

Dimensions

Medium

Year

Retail price

If you choose to sell your work, you will receive 100% of the retail price. (Armature Art Space takes no commissions).You may submit up to six pieces for consideration; we will likely choose 1 to 3.

Open_Call_SHOWTIME (PDF)

PRESS CONFERENCE SCHEDULED

Since NYPD Commissioner William Bratton took office in January, BuskNY has observed a marked increase in the harassment of subway performers.

Freelance platform performers, who comply fully with MTA Rules, have experienced a wave of ejections, tickets, and arrests. As was recently reported, even clearly wrongful tickets require a lengthy legal challenge to dismiss. (In one of our cases, a performer required a pro bono appeal to fight a visibly wrongful ticket). Should performers without the time and resources to fight wrongful charges receive a criminal record?

Meanwhile, performers who sing and dance on trains have found themselves under arrest. In hundreds of cases, these dancers have been charged not under MTA Rule 1050.6 (c) (1) (4) (“civil penalties imposed by the transit adjudication bureau in an amount not to exceed one hundred dollars per violation”), but with reckless endangerment (“a Class A misdemeanor carrying up to a year in jail time). Is this a fair penalty?

We invite performers, supporters, and media to discuss these questions, and to comment on the broader effects of Broken Window policing, at our first press conference to be held jointly with New Yorkers Against Bratton:

Tuesday, August 12, 12:00

City Hall Steps

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7th Busker Ball

This Thursday we attended the 7th quarterly Busker Ball, an event organized by Theo Eastwind, in which some of the best buskers in New York performed at Williamsburg bar and music venue Spike Hill. Theo has been inviting us to speak about busker’s rights, distribute flyers and sell t-shirts for the past few Busker Balls.

The lineup for this season’s show:

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Matthew Christian, back from Dakar, gave a presentation about BuskNY. Matthew outlined what we’ve done in the past year and our current projects, and announced our plans for the 2014 BuskNY T-shirt.

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It turned out Matthew had left a cache of misprints of last year’s shirt in a drawer. We sold a few but gave most of them away to the performers.

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Our design for this summer’s shirt. I’m planning on cleaning it up a bit and printing with four colors on dark colored shirts. I’m using a different technique of printing this time in which each layer will be hand-painted directly onto the screens without the need for photo emulsion or an exposure unit.

Following the success of last year’s Kickstarter campaign, we will be raising the money to make our new shirts free to all performers. We would like to include footage of a variety of buskers in our video, so if you would like to participate you can either send your own brief clips (webcam or phone video is fine) of yourself performing or speaking about busking and police harassment to milo@buskny.com, or contact us so that we can film you ourselves later in the month when we’re putting the video together.

The next Busker Ball is October 30th at 7:30 at Spike Hill!