The city of Cambridge is getting rid of its fee for street performers in 2019.
Beginning in January, individual and group performers can obtain a street performing license, free of charge, from the Cambridge Arts Office at 344 Broadway. Performers will be asked to fill out an application in order to obtain a license but will no longer have to pay what used to be a $40 fee.
In addition, Cambridge is expanding the spaces where performers are allowed to be and adding “the possibility of rotating, dedicated areas for larger performances,” said a statement from the Cambridge Arts Council. Performers don't have to reside in Cambridge to apply for a license.
This comes months after the Cambridge City Council voted to make Central Square an arts overlay district after an outcry over artist displacement in the city. Earlier this year, artists were evicted from the EMF building and Out of the Blue Too Gallery shut down.
Supporters of the elimination of Cambridge's street performing license fee hope these new changes inspire more creativity in the public performing arts throughout the city.
Back in 2013, Cambridge’s neighbor, Somerville, passed an ordinance reversing the almost century-old law that required public gatherings to have permits from the city government. A few years ago, city councilors in Boston proposed an ordinance for a street performer’s fee similar to Cambridge that was not passed. Boston street performers can still perform without a permit, however Faneuil Hall and the MBTA have permitting processes.