Musicians will have to have a repertoire of at least 20 songs, and drum kits and amplifiers over 15 watts could be banned under new proposals discussed by city councillors last night.
The proposals will inform the final wording of draft byelaws to regulate busking in the city which should be published for public consultation early next year.
The news emerged last night as councillors discussed 15 proposals which have been prepared after almost two years of internal debate and discussion in Cork City Council, prompted by a motion from councillor Ken O’Flynn. They include:
- Allowing busking between 11am and 11pm only;
- A ban of amplifiers over 15 watts;
- Amp-free zones in certain parts of the city;
- Musical performers must have a repertoire of at least 20 songs to avoid repetition;
- Drums kits will be banned.
City officials said they are not proposing to be “heavy-handed” on the regulation, but are anxious to regulate in the interests of buskers, city businesses, and the general public.
They said the proposals have emerged following extensive consultation with stakeholders, and that the current proposals are just that — proposals only, and that final wording of the draft by-laws will only emerge in the New Year.
However, they confirmed that auditions will not be required, and that it is hoped to adopt a fast and simple permit application process.
However, Sinn Féin councillor Chris O’Leary said he had concerns that some of the proposals would stymie the city’s emerging talent.
“It will put a straitjacket on people who have quite a lot of talent,” he said.
Party colleague Shane O’Shea said some of the proposals were very “subjective, far too vague and open to interpretation”.
AAA councillor Fiona Ryan said the proposal about performers not acting, dressing, saying, or doing anything “likely to cause alarm or distress” was too broad and could be applied too liberally.
Independent councillor Kieran McCarthy, who runs an annual community talent competition, said it was important not to over-regulate and that supporting creativity was vital.
“Yes, there is the occasional crow but the vast majority of these buskers are very talented. We need to help and support a lot of these young people,” he said.
Fianna Fáil councillor Tom O’Driscoll said while buskers add enormously to the atmosphere and ambience of the city, there is a need to regulate busking.
“You can’t be busking outside a hotel or a resident area at 1am,” he said.
Party colleague Terry Shannon said everyone accepts that buskers add life to the city, but the current free-for-all is not a good idea.
Fianna Fáil councillor John Sheehan said: “This is just the beginning of the process. There is a good opportunity for us to finesse this and to take submissions.”