Buskers who repeat their songs too often within an hour on Auckland City streets can be muzzled under a new council policy. From Monday, street performers in the city must obtain an annual licence, which is free if they agree to comply with the council's new code of conduct. The policy acknowledges the important contribution of street performance to the "vitality of our city" and aims to direct "the right activity to the right location at the right time". It says street performers should develop sufficient repertoire for however long they choose to perform - the maximum is one hour of playing time - without repetition. "If a performer continues to repeat items they may be asked to cease performing. Performers must immediately comply with this request." The policy allows licensed performers to operate on city streets - but not parks - at any time if they are quiet acts, such as mime or statue artists. Acts involving musical instruments, amplification or loud voices are restricted to 7am to 9pm in most areas. The time limit is extended to 2am outside Tourism Auckland and the Starmart on the central-city waterfront, and until midnight at Aotea Square and until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights on Karangahape Rd. Noise levels must not disturb customers or staff of nearby businesses, or be greater than the usual background noise when heard from 30m away. Performers are mostly limited to one hour a day at a location, but can then move to another site. The council says the policy sets a fair way to use the most popular sites and directs performers to appropriate locations in the central city, such as four places for pavement art and eight for acts that attract large audiences. "Street performance plays an important role in the vitality of Auckland City and offers entertainers the chance to gain experience and develop a public profile," said the chairman of the council's arts, culture and recreation committee, Greg Moyle. "Clarifying expectations and directing the right activity to the right location, at the right time will encourage and enable a range of street level activity in our city."
The policy of course is a prima facie breach of the freedom of expression in the Bill of Rights, but may be justifiable as a "reasonable limit prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society" under section 5.
I don't have time for an extended analysis - but maybe we could have a straw poll on whether folk think this policy might pass muster under section 5?