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Entertainers coming to downtown Janesville

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Catherine W. Idzerda
April 30, 2008

The noun is buskers.


The verb is busking.


And this summer, downtown Janesville will see both.


On Monday, the Janesville City Council unanimously approved a United Arts Alliance proposal to allow buskers and busking in the city.


Buskers are street performers: Musicians, magicians, clowns, mimes, jugglers—just about anybody with a one-man or one-woman show.


The practice is common in the larger cities in the United States and in Europe.


Janesville city ordinance allows people to perform or speak on the street, but as soon as they take money, it constitutes “financial gain on public property.”


That’s not allowed—unless the person is part of a nonprofit organization.


That’s where the United Arts Alliance comes in.


Performers and artists who join the nonprofit United Arts Alliance can apply to be part of that organization’s team of buskers. The membership fee is $40 a year, but performers would keep all of the money they earn on the streets.


Applications will be vetted by the alliance, and approved performers will be assigned locations downtown.


“The initial plan is to have buskers outside of major events such as the farmers market,” said Judith Detert-Moriarty, project chair and United Arts Alliance vice president. “They’ll draw attention to what’s going on in the other area.”


For example, instead of having a performance in the middle of the farmers market, he or she would be stationed about a block away. Or the performer could circulate in the crowd before a leisure services concert in the park or entertain people waiting for the Labor Day parade to begin.


Buskers would have to adhere to a code of conduct, cannot obstruct pedestrian traffic and cannot perform in the “vision triangle” at street corners.


“The United Arts Alliance’s goal is to encourage and promote involvement in the arts,” Detert-Moriarty said.


Interested in being a busker? For more details or to apply, visit www.rockcountyarts.com, e-mail proartist@aol.com, or call (608) 752-9248.

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