Ordinance Proposed Restricting Street Performers in Downtown Chicago

Street performers have long been a staple for tourists and Chicagoans throughout the downtown area—but some city officials say noise complaints from those who have to listen to the performances are calling for more quiet.

The city already charges a $100 license fee for street performers and imposes restrictions in some downtown areas as well as on many Chicago Transit Authority platforms.

But now, Ald. Brian Hopkins, 2nd, has proposed an ordinance to restrict the noise levels even further.

“I guarantee you if you had a street performance outside your house all day long, every day, no matter where you lived you would understand what a real problem this is for people,” he said.

The new restrictions would bar performances unless they could not be heard beyond 20 ft. and essentially restricts louder performances along the entire stretch of the Magnificent Mile.

Performer Charles Edwards with the locally-famous Bucket Boys has been beating the drum for five years. But he says he’s recently stopped playing downtown.

“We ain’t causing no harm to nobody, you know?” he said.

George Banks a 30-year veteran of street performing and associate director of the Chicago Street Musicians Coalition says the proposal goes too far.

“You can’t destroy a culture and something as beautiful as music—especially in a city as vibrant as Chicago,” he said. “You can’t do that.”

The City Council will vote on the proposal Wednesday.

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