Busking in Ames
The popularity of street entertainment is growing in urban areas around the country, including Ames. In order to make this a pleasurable experience for all involved, the following suggestions are intended to promote safety and encourage communication between buskers and managers or patrons of establishments in the city's commercial areas.
Tips for Buskers
- Look for signs in windows of downtown establishments indicating that buskers are welcome in front of that address.
- Be sure that you are on public property and not blocking any doorways leading into/out of the building.
- Introduce yourself to the manager/operator of the establishment, and let him or her know what you will be planning to do and for how long (recommended time limit of two hours).
- Should any complaints be received about your performance, cooperate with the business owner or City official responding to the complaint. Try to resolve any conflicts with another busker between yourselves.
- Remember that many ages and backgrounds will be represented in your potential audience and they may have a variety of preferences.
Tips for Establishments
- If you are encouraging entertainment in front of your establishment, be sure to display a sign indicating that buskers are welcome near your business.
- Compliment and encourage those buskers whom you and your patrons appreciate. If any problems occur, try to work things out between yourselves first.
- If you or your customers have expectations about what types of entertainment are acceptable near your business, communicate those expectations clearly and up front.
Applicable City Regulations
A number of ordinances limit how street activities may be conducted, specifically in the areas of access, sales, and level of sound.
- Street Vending: In order to sell CDs or any other items, a vending license is required from the City.
- Noise: Sound levels are generally limited to 65 decibels in a commercial area. Beyond that, a noise permit is required from the Police Department.
- Sidewalk Obstruction: A minimum of four feet of sidewalk must be kept clear at all times to allow for the passage of traffic. Also, access to parking meters should not be restricted. A permit may be required if you intend to set up equipment that is not readily movable.
- If any electrical equipment requiring an AC outlet is used, please contact the City Manager's Office 515-239-5101.
Busker "Do's and Don'ts"
- DO register with the City Clerk's Office before performing, and wear a name badge or some form of identification.
- DON'T approach people and ask for money. Accepting voluntary donations is fine; soliciting is not!
- DO encourage those listening to your presentation not to block the sidewalk or entrance to any nearby business.
- DON'T use public electrical outlets in Tom Evans Plaza or anywhere else in the Cultural District without first checking with the City Manager's Office.
- DO realize that locations for performing are first-come, first-served. Areas may not be reserved or considered a proprietary location for any particular busker.
- DON'T leave trash or refuse behind.
- DO be sure that any equipment or property you may have is attended to at all times.
If you have any questions about performing on City streets in Ames, please contact the Main Street Cultural District office at 515-233-3472 or the City Manager's Office at 515-239-5101.