A few of us in the band are keen to do some busking but I have come across some bueaucratic roadblocks that have blown my mind.
It seems that you need a busking licence in any particular local government area at $40 per year. Each individual band member must have a licence.
Sydney has 40 local councils so, that means for a 5-piece band to be permitted to entertain the public for free (or a voluntary donation) in Sydney they would have to pay $8000 per year for the privilege.
Further, in some areas, you need to attend an audition to get a licence. Ok, we don't want pretenders assaulting our ears (never mind the bagpipe players who passed muster who I could hear clear as day from my 22nd floor office). However, you are allowed to sit on the street and beg money from passing strangers but not provide music for them without red tape, inconvenience and expense. You are allowed to annoy passersby on behalf of a crackpot religion or some other cause. Just don't play music.
Wait, but there's more ... this from a council info sheet:
What Happens If I Want to Busk More Than Ten (10) Times a Year?
You will not be covered under Councilís insurance. You must obtain public liability insurance cover from a third party to the value of $10 million, fill in the application and submit it to Council to be assessed.
I think this is beyond the pale IMO and guarantees Sydney's continuing slide into a soulless backwater that touts itself as an "international city" (that's the official blurb). This is the city where the live music was destroyed when the government allowed gaming machines to take over the bar scene.
Yeah, come to Sydney and look at the bridge and opera house, go to a crowded beach (with costly parking), eat some nice food and drink some nice coffee (often in areas with costly parking). That's about it. The cultural scene here is abysmal and sliding backwards - it's all about sport and making money. New Orleans may have hurricanes, but at least I hear the place has a soul.
Is the busking situation as crazy in other areas of the world or does your area actually value culture?
PS. No, I don't work for Tourism Australia :)