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.

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“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)

2014 MUNY Auditions

Yesterday, Music Under New York held its 27th annual auditions in Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall. About 20 acts out of the 60 contestants will be chosen by a panel of 35 judges to be added to the MUNY roster. The auditions lasted five minutes each over the course of about six hours, and winners will be announced within the next few weeks.

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We asked MUNY manager Lydia Bradshaw to make sure the legality of freelance busking was mentioned during this year’s auditions. Kalan and I attended the first few hours of the auditions to find out if our requests had been honored as well as to see some of the performances, and MUNY turned out to be quite supportive of our cause. We were unexpectedly invited into the press area where we found that MUNY had included a highlighted copy of MTA rule 1050.6 in the press packets for the event.

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Every reporter covering the auditions has one of these.

We stuck around to see the first 20 performers, and I managed to get close enough to get clear shots of most of them:


Based on some of the articles we’ve seen so far, not every member of the press has actually read everything in the packet, since some still conflate MUNY membership with a general busking license. BuskNY has been largely successful, however, when asking the authors of such articles to make corrections. If only informing the NYPD and general public that busking is legal were that easy!

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Megan Gillis rolling her xylophone out after a really excellent performance.

But back to the auditions themselves: we’ll be looking forward to finding out who wins, and hope to run into all sixty of the contestants performing in the subway soon.

7/25: Arrest: how the decision is made

Summary:

If you are approached by police while performing in accordance with MTA rules, you have the right to continue your work. It is highly recommended to film the encounter, to display the MTA rules (we’ll mail you a copy free), and to state the officer’s badge number out loud.

If you are arrested for doing so, you have not committed a crime, and you have the right to a wrongful arrest lawsuit. See “Who To Call” for more information on doing so.

So, the big news from today is that I was arrested for a third time. Here’s how it happened:

I arrived at 68th St at 12:10 PM, unpacked, stood up with the instrument, and saw a police officer on the other platform as I did so. He shined his flashlight at me and shouted: “Not today!”

Well, it just so happens that I believe that music’s legal. So I hollered back: “Yes! Today!” Then I launched “Gigue” from the third Bach partita, and the officer set off for the stairs to reach my platform.

By the time he reached me, I had my instrument in its case to avoid damage. He told me to leave, I asked why, and this is what we established as the situation:

I then said that I was clear on the rules [“The following nontransit uses are permitted by the Authority, provided they do not impede transit activities and they are conducted in accordance with these rules: public speaking; campaigning; leafletting or distribution of written noncommercial materials; activities intended to encourage and facilitate voter registration; artistic performances, including the acceptance of donations; solicitation for religious or political causes; solicitation for charities.”], and that I would continue to perform until given a summons or being arrested.

Officer Kennedy — who had given me his name and badge number on request — said he would “call a unit” to arrest me, and that in the meantime, I could speak with the station manager. I went up, called Milo to say I’d be arrested soon, and talked to the station manager. This is what I found out:

I went back downstairs to meet my fate, and shortly afterward, two more officers arrived, one in a blue shirt and one white-shirt. They conferred with Officer Kennedy, then left without talking to me. After that, I waited for a possible arrest on my platform, and Officer Kennedy waited across the tracks without saying a word. I felt about like this:

After a long period of waiting, I wanted to work or be arrested, not sit around and be scared of some pseudo-legal threat. So, I got out the violin again. Officer Kennedy waved his arms, disappeared upstairs, and came back down a minute later with a new story, this time about a non-existent permit:

Since he was back in my face, I asked what options there were at that point. He still wanted me to leave “voluntarily”, which is how the NYPD says “through intimidation and without any legal justification.” I wasn’t having it and asked again if he would proceed to arrest:

Now, I’m not sure what was said in his initial meeting with his superiors, but I think he had cold feet at this point. In any case, he called for backup a second time, and I got to talk to Officer Bastien, who asked why it was legal to play:

Strangely, his curiosity about the law seemed to evaporate when he had the chance to have a copy of the rules in his hands. He changed to a new tactic, telling me that the rules could be “overruled” in the case of a safety problem.

Here’s the second part of his explanation of why police officers can decide the law:

I understand what he was saying, but what I didn’t see was the safety problem on that platform, which I repeatedly pointed out was quite empty. He finally said that he couldn’t explain the problem since he wasn’t there when I was asked to leave, and I asked if Officer Kennedy could explain it to me again:

Check out that long pause when he’s asked if Officer Kennedy can identify a safety concern. The reason he comes up with: “He asked you to stop playing and you would not stop.” So essentially, I was performing, there was no safety concern — but when I was then asked to leave the station and refused despite intimidation, THEN there was a safety concern.

And THIS reasoning, ladies and gentlemen, justified my arrest. Just after this video, Officer Bastien walked over to his superior, Sgt. Robson. There was a ten-second conversation, then Sgt. Robson approached me, ordered me to put my hands behind my back, and had me step against the wall.

Busking log 7/04: Acrobats, t-shirts, and a charcoal mustache

On the train ride in to Manhattan this morning, I met two members of the Hybrid Movement Company, an acrobatics/circus/dance group that performs regularly in city parks. (Judging by their Facebook page, they’ve been on NBC as well!)

We shared some arrest stories, a mix of good, bad, and very amusing. There are more than a few of us out here getting arrested for art — but fortunately, I’m not the only one with a way to fight back, either. Keep it coming, acrobats!

After I caught up with the Hybriders above-ground to see their (fantastic) performance in Washington Square Park, I joined Milo in his studio to work on designs for our upcoming advocacy t-shirt. (Details coming soon on the plan for the shirts — and, not to spoil any surprises, New Yorkers should be seeing them in person soon!)

Designing was fun. Milo let me hold his charcoal pencil briefly, and I used it to draw a mustache on my face:

arr!

(My shirt was on the floor, serving as a design template). Fortunately, at least one of us took the job more seriously:

coming soon!

We’ll be receiving a sample batch of shirts tomorrow, and hope to have completed the first screenprints by Saturday night. In the meantime, let us know if you think we missed any important busking instruments in our design. There’s still time for additions!

Subway law: the MTA Rules of Conduct

Welcome to BuskNY’s all-new blog, a site to behold!

As tradition mandates, our first post is a link to the under-read, under-loved MTA Rules of Conduct. Don’t forget:

“The following nontransit uses are permitted by the Authority, provided they do not impede transit activities and they are conducted in accordance with these rules: public speaking; campaigning; leafletting or distribution of written noncommercial materials; activities intended to encourage and facilitate voter registration; artistic performances, including the acceptance of donations; solicitation for religious or political causes; solicitation for charities.”

That means YOU, buskers!