For a number of years, the Dublin City Councillors are trying to re-organise the busking in the city and they are making a mess of it.
The problem is that the shops in the areas where busking makes sense don’t like buskers. They make noise and block the street, Busking at night also disturbs people’s sleep (more in Temple Bar than in Grafton Street where nobody lives). And then there are some really really bad buskers who shouldn’t be on the street at all.
So, it is totally accepted that a bit of structure needs to be injected. But the Councillors went over the top. They introduced the requirement for buskers to have a license that they need to buy from Dublin City and they defined the amount of noise buskers are allowed to make (but that is difficult to measure) and they created busking free zones and defined how far buskers should be from each other and for how long they are allowed to sing and how often they are allowed to repeat their songs. They even considered introducing the requirement of auditions for buskers!!! Mad!!
There was a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel! The previous busking laws were time limited to be reviewed some while later. This some while later has come now and with a LOT of delays finally the councillors discussed busking again and…made things worse again.
Because the noise measurement doesn’t work, now they have forbidden the use of backing tracks!!
Not too long ago, I saw a busker who played something like a pan flute. He wasn’t one of the Mexican flute player that can be found all over the world who mainly sell their CDs, but it was a guy whose hand was severely disabled. He could hold the pan flute but wouldn’t have been able to play any other instrument. With the new rules, he is out! Because pan flute without any backing track just doesn’t work.
A few years ago I heard two guys in Grafton Street who were amazing. They were the type of power or pop violinists that you see sometimes. Extremely talented, playing the violin like gods but they couldn’t do their gig without an orchestra. Obviously they didn’t bring their orchestra but had a backing track. You won’t see anything like that in Dublin anymore! …thanks to our City Councillors!
But it gets worse! Some of them even want to forbid the use of amplifiers. I am totally ok with a limitation of the amplifier use. Otherwise we will have huge PAs at some stage in Grafton Street and Temple Bar, but there are small 5-15W amps that help a bass player (for example) just to be heard without having to buy a new instrument. They don’t really make noise, they just allow the use of a normally amplified instrument in a more acoustic environment.
Dublin has a great musical tradition and a huge musical talent in our midst, but we (at least _I_) also like hearing “travelling musicians” and there HAS to be a way to use soft and careful limitations to improve the situation for ALL sides instead of forbidding everything!! City Councillors are meant to improve things in our City not destroy culture and variety.