City Council is considering changes as to who can do what in Jackson Square.
The meeting at Kermit's Speakeasy in late September to discuss zoning and permit-related issues was often an unruly, unfocused venting, but one positive thing to come out of it is the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans - a group working to make sure that musicians, club owners and participants in the culture have a voice in the conversation. Today's newsletter lays out a cause for concern:
On Nov. 1st, Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer introduced two ordinances regarding activity in Jackson Square. These ordinances have been drafted with the support of Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration.
In summary, the first ordinance would ban anyone from stopping, standing or loitering in Jackson Square between the hours of 1am and 5am. The punishment for loitering would be a "fine not exceeding $500 fine and/or imprisonment up to six months."
The second ordinance states that only persons holding "A" permits or "B" permits may conduct business in Jackson Square. This is consistent with the current existing ordinance. "A" and "B" permits are for visual artists. Street musicians are not required to have permits and no such permits currently exist. However, what is different is the punishment for violating the terms of the permit. The existing ordinance states that the punishment for violating the terms of the permit is having the permit revoked. However, the new ordinance proposes a punishment of a "fine not exceeding $500 fine and/or imprisonment up to six months."
The very nature of enforcing a punishment that is not limited to revoking a permit could mean that there are serious repercussions for anyone conducting business in Jackson Square that does not have a "A" and "B" permit. We are very concerned about the potential for the criminalization of street musicians, performers and tarot card readers.
City Council's Government Affairs Committee will vote on these ordinances on Mon. December 3. Concerned community members should contact Councilperson Palmer's office:
Mary Cunningham, Director, Constituent Services
MACCNO reminds those who contact Palmer's office that she was also instrumental in helping Siberia get its live music permit, so this isn't a simple pro-music/anti-music dynamic.
The next MACCNO meeting will be at Kermit's Speakeasy on Wednesday, November 28 at noon, where the leadership will propose a plan of action.