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News 14 Feb 13

Belgrade’s Buskers Compete for Licenses to Play

A jury is to assign some 50 locations to licensed buskers and street artists, hopefully ending the recent dispute over their activities.

Gordana Andric
BIRN
Belgrade

The city Secretariat for Culture is preparing to issue licences for street performers and list the locations where they can perform.

So far 36 have applied for licenses to perform in the capital. All will have a chance to show the secretariat and Belgraders what they can do in March when they will perform in front of the jury that is to decide who gets which location.

“We were pleasantly surprised with the discipline and interest of the candidates. Many have been performing on the streets, so they are submitting requests to perform at locations they are accustomed to,” Darko Glavaš, president of the committee tasked with issuing licences, told daily 24sata on January 31st.

The draft plan of locations includes the city centre, but also some locations in New Belgrade, Avala, Ada Ciganlija and Zemun. The plan is expected to be adopted by April.

“We tried to respect the will of performers, communal good order and people’s wishes. The plan is not finished yet, but we are planning more than 50 locations with street performers,” Glavaš says.

Each location will be reserved for a specific type of performance, so spots reserved for musicians will have a musical instrument drawn on them, while those designated for magicians will be marked with a drawing of a hat.

The most attractive locations will be assigned to those performers that the jury deems most talented, while some will be reserved for foreigners.

“Foreigners will not have to waste their time waiting for a license, they should only apply to the Tourist Organisation of Belgrade and the City will have locations ready for them,” Glavaš says.

The issue of street musicians hit the headlines in October last year, when police clamped down on buskers.

As the status of numerous street musicians and performers has not been regulated, police started applying a municipal order that prohibits the sale of goods or other activities outside authorised facilities.

Dozens of street musicians who had played for years in the city’s busiest street, Knez Mihailova, were suddenly banned from doing so and were told they risked being reported as beggars.

Belgraders then launched a petition, urging the city to regulate their status while many famous singers expressed solidarity with the street musicians.

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