License system restored
Created: August 13, 2015.
Update - August 21, 2015:
Apparently, we were too soon with the good news. There is still a problem for 'newcomers' (performers who did not
have a license before). The license department decided to NOT issue licenses to these 'newcomers'. Also, 'old' performers
(those who had a license in previous years) have to proof this. Even worse, so far they refused to accept a new application.
A different approach towards 'newcomers' is against the policy as recently decided by the council. Expecting a performer
to proof he/she had a license before is rediculous. Who still has his license of a couple of years ago? Does the license
department not have an archive? Last but not least, refusing to accept an application is unlawful.
We do not accept this situation, and we will fight it.
The loooong dragging story drags on...
The short version.
The bad news: it took a loooong time and it was soooo unnecessary.
The good news: the license system is restored.
The bad news: the license system is not fully restored to how it was before.
The long version.
What happened the past few years and why?
In 2011 the Mayor started a bizarre experiment: issueing licenses to musicians with sound amplification.
Bizarre, because the Mayor persists this was the wish of the council, but any proof of such was never given nor found.
More bizarre, because the experiment failed dramatically from day one. The licensed amplified musicians abused their
freedom to extreme levels. They were playing too long, too often and moreover far too loud, resulting in mountains of
complaints from citizens and businesses around their performing spots. Their extreme sound level also made it pretty impossible
for circle show performers to do their show. Police and 'Handhaving' appeared to be unable to control the situation.
Despite the resistance of citizens and businesses, and subsequently also of the 'Stadsdeelvoorzitster' of Amsterdam-Centrum
and the Amsterdam council, the Mayor continued the experiment for three years.
As of 2013, in an attempt to control the situation, the number of licenses to be issued to musicians with amplification got reduced
to ten licenses. A weird attempt - if one handful of musicians are terrorizing the city, how can a limit of two handfuls of licenses solve
or even reduce the problem?
From this moment, only these ten licenses are issued, nothing more, also not for circle show street theatre. This appears to be
an unwanted side-effect. The Mayor promises to fix this soon.
In 2014 the experiment with musicians finally stopped: no more licenses for amplified musicians. But still also no licenses for circle
show street theatre. In a council meeting the problem is addressed again. But now the Mayor denies his previous promise.
The problem dragged on for another one and a half year. The Mayor wanted to fix problems which don't exist.
For example, only one show per
day on the same spot, to stimulate rotation and giving a fair chance to everyone. But there was never a problem with rotation, not even
ten years ago, when there was a line-up of 23 performers. Lately, the line-up is hardly more than 'a couple', so it seems a bit weird to come
with such a 'solution' now.
Also, the Mayor wanted the old license system only for existing licensees, not for 'newcomers' (not only as in
starting performers, but also seasoned professionals who just dont perform in Amsterdam every year). Only God knows why. Newcomers are no
problem - on the contrary, they add diversity, spice and quality to the Amsterdam street theatre scene.
Last but not least, the privilege for
street theatre performers to use seven minutes amplified music got kicked. After all the trouble with the musicians, the paranoia about
amplified music is understandable, but unnecessary. This privilege was active for ten years, without causing any problems.
The end of the story:
Fortunately, the city council halted these plans of the Mayor. Only the privilege of seven minutes music could not be saved. Beginning of June
2015, the license system has been officially restored. It took another two months for the decision to reach the license department, but here it is.
Unfortunately, two practical details are in the way of foreign/travelling or short-term performers. The application fee increased drastically,
from EUR 46.50 in 2012 to EUR 111.45 now. That's an increase of 140%! Bad news for performers who only want to stay in Amsterdam for a
short time. Also, this application fee can only be paid 'by PIN'. Foreign performers without a Meastro debet card would need the help of a local.
We will see if it possible to find a solution for this.
The situation as it is now:
Any circle show street theatre performer can get a license, also 'newcomers'. Except non-EU performers, but that's the result of national laws and another story.
The license includes the possibility to perform two times per day on the same spot, with a maximum of 40 minutes per show.
Special allowances like juggling torches, machetes or chainsaws are possible.
The application fee is EUR 111.45 (2015).
The application fee can only be paid by Maestro debet card ('PIN').
Amplified music is NOT allowed anymore.
For how to apply for a license, see the perform page.
Many thanks to the political party SP for all their support, and all council members who backed them. Without their help, we would be stuck to juggling three balls with a red nose.