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Buskers’ reaction mixed to laws restricting performances to Fremont Street zones

The magicians, musicians and other buskers of Fremont Street are split on how new laws that regulate where they can perform for the masses are affecting their business.

City Attorney Brad Jerbic hosted an informal meeting Tuesday at Las Vegas City Hall to hear concerns and complaints from about 20 buskers regarding the new laws.

The new regulations, which went into effect in November, corral performers on Fremont Street to a 6-foot “performance zone” painted to look like an oversize poker chip on the pavement. Buskers enter into a daily lottery for the spots that are separated in two-hour intervals.

Nearly all of the performers have been abiding by the new laws — city marshals said they have issued only— two citations for performing outside the zones — but several raised concerns about them at the meeting.

Specifically, Carle said the new regulations have only made his interactions with other buskers more confrontational because of confusions over the new rules. Carle said he’s had several arguments that have led to either security or city marshal involvement over which performer has rights to a spot.

But Carle said his dealings with performers still pales in comparison to those with drunk tourists who refuse to move out of the performance zones.

Others said the lottery system saddles them with zones that simply don’t produce a crowd. And because of how the ordinance is written, a performer can not move to an empty circle if their assigned zone is lacking foot traffic.

And bad foot traffic means less money for the buskers.

But other said the new circles have actually proven lucrative for them.

Adam Flowers, a street magician and president of a group of performers called Street Performers and Artists, said several performers in the group have remarked about making more money with the changes, even during what most consider the slow time of year.

Flowers said he thinks the circles give buskers a feeling of uniqueness instead of the experience in days past when dozens of acts were within an arm’s reach of each other.

“It almost spotlights the performers in a way,” he said.

But whether or not they like the new laws, they all agreed the system could be improved, and Jerbic said the city is willing to tweak the regulations.

Most performers said they want the freedom to move to open, unassigned circles if their lottery zone is lacking. Others said they’d like to ability to swap zones with other buskers if the trade was mutually beneficial.

Jerbic said he will take all the performers’ recommendations and present them at the Feb. 3 city council meeting.

Contact reporter Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638. Find him on Twitter: @ColtonLochhead

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