herald

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Paddy Cullivan: Don't like buskers? Then just move on

Glen Hansard and Mundy Busking on Grafton Street to raise money for Simon, the homeless charity
Glen Hansard and Mundy Busking on Grafton Street to raise money for Simon, the homeless charity

DUBLIN’s buskers are facing bye-laws that could see them fined up to €1,500 for breaking a 11pm curfew, playing through anything louder than 80 decibels or busking adjacent to residential areas.

These were among the many submissions on the bye-laws to Dublin City Council, which also included a call for a ban on the use of amplifiers and drums due to “excessive noise”.

The Council was set to vote last night on the bye-laws, which seem to answer the prayers of a few retailers and residents and go against our traditions as a land of musicians and artists.

Play 4 Non Blondes’ What’s Going On at 2am on a city street and you are a criminal? (Ok, I’d get the taste police to arrest that particular musical felony).

Retailers complaining about noise and proximity are also a bit rich, seeing as many businesses have music playing in their store at jet engine volume.

As for residents, I feel the same about those who complain about noisy buskers as I do about those who live near Croke Park and complain about disruption.

Croker’s a stadium – events take place in it. If you don’t like things like that, move!

Living in the centre of a city means accepting the noise a city makes. We have to deal with trucks and sirens – we can allow a few kids with guitars.

Buskers are part of the fabric of Dublin’s city centre. They make tourists feel like they aren’t on a  British high street – despite the identical shops.

I’m against terrible music, but a bit of regulation from other buskers would help this – they’ll let you know you are hogging a spot, believe me.

The financial realities that kick in when you realize that no-one is throwing any money your way will also discourage a return visit – and the proposed annual €30 licenses will help in this too.

The street is not a place to practice  Stairway to Heaven.

Nor is it a place to play loud just because it’s outside.

It is a wonderful privilege to be able to play music freely in the city, so leave it as you found it, only leaving good vibes behind.

This issue is about freedom of choice. We live in a city where it’s legal for people to fill their faces with alcohol for 15 hours a day, but play a few songs too loud or too late and you might be fined.

If we leave everything to law, we’ll have deserted streets where lots of shopping is done in international shops to the sounds of international hits.

You won’t hear The Auld Triangle in a clothes shop. And bar The Late Late Show and a few other arts-based TV shows, there’s very little music on TV.

So be thankful we have the streets to fill with live music, because you won’t really hear it anywhere else.

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