Monday, May 18, 2015

Final Performance From Faneuil Hall

I hope you enjoy it, readers:

"Faneuil Hall street performers balk at new fees" by Peter Schworm Globe Staff  May 11, 2015

Starting next month, street performers at Faneuil Hall will have to do more than perform — they will also have to pay for the privilege of entertaining the crowd.

In a move that has outraged the popular musicians, acrobats, and other entertainers, Faneuil Hall Marketplace management wants performers to pay fees that run as high as $2,500 annually, saying the charges are needed to offset administration, promotion, and security costs.

“They don’t pay us, and now they are asking us to pay them?” asked Rebecca Liberman, a musician in her fifth year playing at Faneuil Hall. “It’s just ridiculous.”

That's her job now?

The performers — or buskers — rely on tips from spectators.

I tossed change at a homeless guy when I went to the Sox game last year. Other three in our party ignored him.

Performers call the fees prohibitive and say they would rather quit than pay to perform.

Me, too. Haven't gone to get a Globe yet.

Many have been playing at Faneuil Hall for years and value their positions, which they won after a competitive audition process, in the marketplace’s entertainers program.

Maybe you guys should form a union?


A spokeswoman for market management said in an e-mail Saturday that they had postponed the auditions after hearing concerns about the new fees, which can be paid over five months from June to October.

The controversy marks the second consecutive year performers have clashed with the marketplace’s property manager, Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. Last summer, the group barred some performers from using sound systems in an effort to tone down the acts, a move performers said hurt their rapport with the crowds.

Wow! Look who is occupying Faneuil Hall!

Management later changed course and allowed amplification again, the spokeswoman said Saturday.

The fees, which performers said ranged from $500 for solo musicians to $2,500 for variety acts, were far more frustrating, several artists said.

The management of Faneuil Hall Marketplace said in a statement Friday they hope to provide a “world-class public entertainment space that is professionally managed, safe, and appealing to those who visit from near and far.”

It is not that now?

“There are significant costs associated with hosting an entertainment program including administration, promotion, scheduling, and security,” the group said. “For the past 39 years, Faneuil Hall Marketplace has supported the program in its entirety and paid all the costs without any contributions from performers. We look forward to an exciting tourism season with a range of performances and activities to entertain our visitors.”

Do these guys ever hear their own double talk, or does their $hit really not stink? 

The marketplace is owned by the city, which leases three of the four buildings to Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp., a New York real estate firm. Ashkenazy took over the lease for $136 million in 2011, and in September announced plans for an overhaul of the tourist attraction.

Oh, well, certainly the CITY can help you guys out.

Plans call for turning the central food court into open retail spaces, upscale bars, and restaurants, and adding several new glass pavilions for shopping and dining.

It's happening all over Bo$ton.

Performers say they worry that a more high-end Faneuil Hall may have no need for their acts, which have charmed legions of locals and tourists over the years. 

I haven't been there in years.

“It really seems as if they are trying to drive us out,” said Liberman, a student at Berklee College of Music. 

You think?

Liberman said management is also requiring performers to use a device this season to monitor their decibel levels.

Gardner said performers will continue to fight the fees and are considering a lawsuit.

Which firm will pick up the pro-bono torch and help them, or will it be a prospective law student who can't find work?

While the city leases the property, it remains public land, he said. The mayor’s office declined to comment.


Chadd Deitz, who performs as Wacky Chad, said he found the fees insulting, given that performers already agree to forgo paying gigs to entertain the crowds.

“It’s like asking them to pay for my pogo stick,” he said. “I think they just threw out a number to see what they could get.”

Cate Flaherty, who does a handstand and juggling act, said the performers are part of the culture of Faneuil Hall, a crossroads of Boston where tourists and locals of all stripes mingle.

“Everyone can afford to see us,” she said. “We’re an attraction. Not only a reason people come, but a reason people stay.”

Flaherty said she was distraught when she heard about the fees and she will refuse to pay.

“The bottom literally dropped out of my world,” she said.

On Friday, visitors were surprised to hear that the performers had to pay to perform and said they hoped they made enough in tips that it wouldn’t hurt their bottom line too much. Even busking wasn’t free anymore, one quipped. And as Wacky Chad balanced the brim of his baseball hat on his nose, the crowd cheered in appreciation.

Near Gardner’s show, Stephen Creagh prepared balloon animals for the children. He wasn’t affected by the fee increase, but wondered how much longer he would be welcome in an upgraded market....

When it becomes a “mall without the street performers.” 


RelatedBack off on Faneuil Hall street performer fees

Don't worry; you are going to love the makeover after they evict a few unwanted businesses.


"The company that manages Boston’s Faneuil Hall Marketplace has dropped a plan to impose new fees on its popular group of street performers, who had threatened to quit the storied program in protest. Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. said Wednesday that after “careful consideration and a series of good-faith discussions” it had decided against charging singers, acrobats, and other entertainers up to $2,500 annually."