Street Performing in Chicago
with Patrick Tinning
how to get a Chicago street performer license


Street Performing in Chicago: with Patrick Tinning
How to Get a Chicago Street Performer License
by Sue Basko

JUNE 18, 2014 NEWS FLASH! UPDATED STREET PERFORMER LAW AND INFORMATION: http://suebasko.blogspot.com/2014/06/chicago-street-performers-new-law.html

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Chicago Street performer's permit is not valid on CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) property. For that you need a CTA performer's permit. The CTA performer's permit is not valid on Chicago streets. You can be ticketed and fined for not having the correct permit. For information on the CTA performance rules and permits, please click here.


Street performing is known in some places as busking. Street performing is a way for the performers to make cash and experience the thrill of playing to an up-close, highly interactive audience. In many locations, the audience is tourists, and they usually love the good performers and take photos of them. Street performers are a vital part of the city landscape, especially in areas frequented by shoppers, people out on the town, and visitors. One way to find out if your act is of interest to people is to put it out there in public. Street performing also helps hone your ability to respond to audience reactions.

I've seen singers, musicians, mimes, acrobats, jugglers, a puppet show with a little stage pulled by a bicycle. I've seen dog and monkey acts. I've seen breakdancers and lots of kids banging drums on plastic paint buckets.

One of my favorites is the Bubble Man on the Santa Monica promenade. This act only works in the dark. The Bubble Man blows a bubble and then somehow blows cigarette smoke into the bubble. Then he shines a flashlight at the bubble. The smoke makes the bubble appear to be a solid silver ball, floating in the air. Children love to chase the bubbles, grab them, and watch them evaporate.


LICENSES and RULES: Most cities and locations require the street performer to have a license or permit. Most places make you apply for this in person, and charge a fee for it. There are also laws and rules in each location. For the most part, these rules are about WHERE, WHEN, AND HOW LOUD a street performer can perform.

CHICAGO: Today's post is about CHICAGO. I'll cover other locations as time goes on. Below, I give the details, but here is the summary -- to be a street performer in Chicago:

1) You must apply for a license in person at City Hall. You must bring a Driver's License or other official photo I.D.

2) The license costs $100, good for 2 years. (call the number below and ask the exact price -- there is some confusion on whether it is $100 for 2 years or $200 for 2 years) Any Chicago bills must be paid up, such as parking tickets and water bills.

3) You must follow laws that say where and when you can perform and how much noise you can make. If you violate the laws, you can get a $300 ticket. If a police officer tells you to move, you have to move at least 2 blocks away.

4) SORRY -- No street performing is allowed in Millennium Park. It is allowed in Grant Park (but not near the Petrillo Music Shell when there is a concert), Lincoln Park, and across the street from Millennium Park - but you cannot make noise during Millennium Park concerts. Read the law below. There are also restrictions on where you can play during special events -- and there are many special events in downtown Chicago. So pay attention to the rules!

5) Street Performance Hours are Sunday through Thursday 10 am - 8 pm; Friday and Saturday 10 am - 10 pm. 8 pm is an early end time in the Summer. But that's the rule.

6) You can't make too much noise. If you make too much noise, you can be fined, lose your street performer license, and/or have to do community service. Noise allowances are defined in the law. What I've seen over the years is that the most trouble is caused by boomboxes played too loud, amplifiers played too loud, and people banging on drums or buckets. If you do these things, you will likely run into trouble sooner or later.

Another problem is performers staying in the same location too long or coming back to the same place day after day. The people working or living near those locations do not want to hear the same noises hour after hour or day upon day. If you switch locations every hour, you are less likely to have trouble.

QUIET ZONES: The streets around a hospital and around a school during school hours are Quiet Zones. Street performers and musicians cannot perform in these areas. The relevant parts of the law are below.

Today's special guest is PATRICK TINNING, of the Chicago band, THE HOPS. Patrick was a schoolteacher in a bilingual education program, got laid off, and decided to hone his performing skills by taking it to the streets. He has some insight to share with us. After Patrick shares his thoughts, I will tell how to get the license and the rules you must follow.


WORDS FROM PATRICK TINNING: The picture is from the CTA blue line stop at O’Hare. There's a good amount of traffic there. You really gotta work the people though. Standing would have been an advantage because I would have been able to get in people's way a little but I didn't have my guitar strap so I had to sit.
I've seen two man street performers (guitar player, singer) where the singer is able to extend his hand to people and they seemed to do well. I've done OK. On days where I've had a decent pull (more than $20), I usually hide the bills in the neck of the guitar case so people don't get brave and try to reach in and get grabby. I put a sign with The Hops stickers that says TAKE A STICKER, but when I've done that I think people don't want to reach near the case because they don't want to look like they're trying to take money.
I don't use an amp, although I've seen a guy use one. I just think it looks like you don't really need the money if you've got all this equipment. I have used my little amp once, and I did horrible that day. I think for that very reason... I brought my tambourine a few times and kicked it while I played. People liked that. It was tough to do, and play and sing, but it does add another level of rhythm and beat to the music.
Going along with the looking like you have money thing, I'd say never wear a tie. I know that seems obvious, but I did once this summer cause I went with a girl, and that was the only day I ever got stiffed completely. Usually I wear torn jeans, my camo pants, and a sign that says, "I'm not lazy I'm just misunderstood."
Beatles songs are always good to do. Christmas carols are good during the season. "Love Rollercoaster" has really done well for me. I've had people dancing to that one, that was really fun. And I started a sing along once when I did Hank Williams' "Hey Good Lookin". Of the originals, our song "The Walk" always gets money. As soon as I start that song, the change just starts dropping in the bucket. It's a funny tune about walking, which is what people do when you're street performing.
The guitar case has been the best thing to collect money. I've used a bucket and people miss badly. They miss with the case too, but not as frequently.
Peace and Harmony,
Patrick
THANK YOU PATRICK -- AND NOW TO THE BASICS ON HOW TO GET THE LICENSE AND THE LAWS YOU WILL HAVE TO FOLLOW:

CHICAGO STREET PERFORMER LICENSE: To be a street performer in Chicago, you need a license.

HOW TO GET THE LICENSE:

1) You must go IN PERSON during Monday-Friday business hours to:
Chicago City Hall, 121 North LaSalle Street, Room 800
Since this takes some time, show up at 3 pm at the latest.

2) Fill out the form they give you -- the exact questions are below. Much of this pertains to Peddlers. Just ignore those parts - they are the parts in grey below. A peddler is a person that sells things on the street. That is also an interesting business and one you may want to get into. People sell flowers on the streets, glowing necklaces and glo sticks at night events, etc. But this post is about Street Performers.


CITY OF CHICAGO
Peddler / Performer
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
Account Number (DBA USE ONLY)
Individual Information
Type of License Peddler Food Peddler Street Performer
Owner Information
First Name Middle
Last Name Jr./Sr.
Residential Address
Street Number N/S/E/W Street Name Ave, St, etc.
NOTE: This address
needs to match the
owner’s photo ID
City State Zip Code
Date of Birth
Social Security Number
Contact Phone
Contact Fax
Contact Email
Peddling Information (for peddlers only)
An Illinois Business Tax number is REQUIRED before a Peddler’s license may be issued*
Illinois Business Tax
* If you do not have one, you must obtain an Illinois Business Tax (IBT) Number from the Illinois Department of Revenue located at
100 W. Randolph Street, Lower Level, or online at www.revenue.state.il.us
Products to be Sold
List the items you plan
to sell as a peddler in
the City of Chicago
PROHIBITED FOOD ITEMS:
Bottled water, candy, chips, soda/pop, liquor, all other consumable food items except for
uncut, uncooked fruits and vegetables (cooked fruit and/or vegetables are not allowed)
ITEMS THAT MAY NOT BE PEDDLED IF THEY ARE PREVIOUSLY OWNED (USED):
Audio-video equipment, cameras, computer hardware, jewelry made of precious metal or
stone, articles made of precious metal, precious stones or gems, sporting or athletic gear
or equipment, bicycles, watches or currency
Prohibited Items
This is a list of some
items that may NOT
be sold by a Peddler
on the Public Way in
the City of Chicago
OTHER PROHIBITED ITEMS:
Tires, weapons, tickets, tobacco, weapons (including any pistol, revolver or other firearm,
dagger, stiletto, billie, derringer, bowie knife, dirk, stun gun or taser), and any illegal or
hazardous material or substance
PEDDLERS AND STREET PERFORMERS MUST APPLY IN PERSON AT THE ADDRESS LISTED BELOW:
CITY OF CHICAGO Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection: Business Assistance Center
City Hall, Room 800 121 N. LaSalle Street, Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 74-GOBIZ (744-6249)


3) PAY THE FEE. The current fee is $100/ year. Patrick paid $200 for 2 years -- and I am not sure if that was by choice, of if the applicant is required to pay for 2 years. You may want to call and ask.

4) LAW AND RULES: Once you have your Chicago Street Performer license, these are the laws and rules you have to follow:

YOU SHOULD READ THROUGH THIS LAW AT LEAST ONCE BEFORE
YOU HEAD OUT TO BEGIN YOUR NEW CAREER AS A STREET PERFORMER:





CHAPTER 4-268 
STREET PERFORMERS
4-268-010 Definitions.
4-268-020 Permit – Required.
4-268-030 Permit – Conditions.
4-268-040 Permit – Display.
4-268-050 Rules and regulations.
4-268-060 Acceptance of contributions.
4-268-070 Violation – Penalty.
4-268-080 Special events.
4-268-090 Constitutionality.
4-268-010 Definitions.
The following terms are defined for the purpose of this chapter as follows:
(a) “Perform” means and includes, but is not limited to, the following activities: acting, singing, playing musical instruments, pantomime, juggling, magic, dancing and reciting.
(b) “Performer” means an individual to whom a permit was issued pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.
(c) “Public area” means and includes sidewalks, parkways, playgrounds and all other public ways located in the City of Chicago, except transit platforms and stations operated by the Chicago Transit Authority or the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
(b) “Special event” means any special event conducted by the city of Chicago, including events conducted by permission of the Chicago Park District in parks or other facilities operated by the park district.
(Added Coun. J. 12-9-92, p. 25465; Amend Coun. J. 4-21-99, p. 92524, § 1)
4-268-020 Permit – Required.
No person may perform in a public area without having obtained a permit issued under Section 4-268-030 of this chapter.
(Added Coun. J. 12-9-92, p. 25465)
4-268-030 Permit – Conditions.
(a) A permit shall be issued by the commissioner of the department of business affairs and consumer protection to each applicant therefor in exchange for a completed application and a fee of $75.00 as set forth in Section 4-5-010.
(b) A completed application for a permit shall contain the applicant’s name, address and telephone number and shall be signed by the applicant.
(c) [Reserved.]
(d) A permit shall contain the name and permit number or department of business affairs and consumer protection account number of the permit holder, a clear picture of the permit holder, and the year in which it is issued. The permit shall be in a form that can be displayed.
(e) A permit shall be nontransferable.
(f) Upon issuing a permit, the commissioner of the department of business affairs and consumer protection shall also issue to the performer a printed copy of this chapter.
(Added Coun. J. 12-9-92, p. 25465; Amend Coun. J. 7-27-05, p. 53211, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 2-8-06, p. 70052, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 11-15-06, p. 92532, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 11-19-08, p. 47220, Art. V, § 5)
4-268-040 Permit – Display.
A performer shall carry and display a permit on his or person at all times while performing in a public area, and shall wear the permit in a manner that is clearly visible to the public.
(Added Coun. J. 12-9-92, p. 25465; Amend Coun. J. 2-8-06, p. 70052, § 1)
4-268-050 Rules and regulations.
(a) A performance may take place in any public area, but only between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and 10:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
(b) A performer may not block the passage of the public through a public area. If a sufficient crowd gathers to see or hear a performer such that the passage of the public through a public area is blocked, a police officer may disperse that portion of the crowd that is blocking the passage of the public, or may order the performer to cease performing at that location until the conditions causing the congestion have abated.
(c) A performer may not perform on the public way so as to obstruct access to private property, except with the prior consent of the owner or manager of the property.
(d) (1) A performer shall comply in all respects with the relevant portions of the noise and vibration control provisions of the Chicago Environmental Noise Ordinance, Article XXI of Chapter 11-4 of the Municipal Code, and all other applicable code provisions, which prohibit a street performer from generating any sound by any means so that the sound is louder than an average conversational level at a distance of 100 feet or more, measured either horizontally or vertically from the point of generation. Failure to comply with these noise control limitations shall constitute a violation of this section and shall subject the violator to the penalties set forth in subsection (e) of this section.
Any performer whose performance in the area bounded by Lake Michigan on the east, Oak Street on the north, Congress Parkway on the south and LaSalle Street and Wacker Drive on the west (including both sides of the named boundary streets), has exceeded the noise limitations set forth in Section 11-4-2800, and restated in this subsection (d)(1), and who is given notice thereof and requested to move by a police officer or department of environment personnel, shall move the location of his or her performance at least two city blocks from the location where the noise violation occurred. Failure to obey such a request to move is a violation of this section.
(d) (2) It shall be a separate violation of this section for a street performer to generate any sound by any means so that the sound is louder than an average conversational level at a distance of 200 feet or more, measured either horizontally or vertically from the point of generation. Failure to comply with these noise control limitations shall subject the violator to the penalties set forth in subsection (e) of this section.
(e) Anyone found guilty of two violations of subsection (d)(1) of this section within one calendar year, and anyone found guilty of one violation of subsection (d)(2) of this section, shall have his or her street performer’s permit revoked by the department of business affairs and consumer protection for a period of one calendar year. Permit revocations shall be conducted in accordance with procedures established by the department of business affairs and consumer protection. In addition to permit revocation and the fine provided for in Section 4-268-070, a person violating subsection (d) of this section may also be required to perform up to 24 hours of community service.
(f) All street performers are prohibited from performing in the highly congested area on both sides of Michigan Avenue, bounded by East Delaware Place on the north and East Superior Street on the south.
(g) No performer shall, while performing on the public way (1) along that portion of Jackson Boulevard that lies between Columbus Drive and Lake Shore Drive at any time during which a concert is being performed in the Petrillo Music Shell, or (2) along that portion of Randolph Street that lies between Columbus Drive and Michigan Avenue, and along that portion of Columbus Drive that lies between Michigan Avenue and Monroe Street, at any time during which a concert is being performed in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, emit noise that is audible to a person with normal hearing more than 20 feet away.
(h) No performance by a performer shall be allowed at any time in Millennium Park, or on any sidewalk that abuts Millennium Park, as that term is defined in section 10-36-140.
(Added Coun. J. 12-9-92, p. 25465; Amend Coun. J. 7-21-99, p. 9473; Amend Coun. J. 7-27-05, p. 53211, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 2-8-06, p. 70052, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 7-26-06, p. 81473, § 3; Amend Coun. J. 5-9-07, p. 104052, § 6; Amend Coun. J. 11-19-08, p. 47220, Art. V, § 5; Amend Coun. J. 6-3-09, p. 63975, § 1)
4-268-060 Acceptance of contributions.
A performer who performs and accepts contributions under the provisions of this chapter shall not be committing disorderly conduct under Section 8-4-010 of the Municipal Code of Chicago by virtue of those acts.
(Added Coun. J. 12-9-92, p. 25465)
4-268-070 Violation – Penalty.
Any person who violates any of the provisions of this chapter, including but not limited to the noise control limitations which are set forth in Section 4-268-050, or who knowingly furnishes false information on the permit application, shall be subject to a fine of $300.00 for the first offense and $500 thereafter for any subsequent violations. Except as otherwise specifically provided, anyone found guilty of three violations of any of the provisions of this chapter within one calendar year shall have his or her street performer’s permit revoked by the department of business affairs and consumer protection for a period of one calendar year. Permit revocations shall be conducted in accordance with procedures established by the department of business affairs and consumer protection.
(Added Coun. J. 12-9-92, p. 25465; Amend Coun. J. 2-8-06, p. 70052, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 7-26-06, p. 81473, § 3; Amend Coun. J. 11-19-08, p. 47220, Art. V, § 5; Amend Coun. J. 6-3-09, p. 63975, § 1)
4-268-080 Special events.
The mayor, by and through the commissioner of the department of cultural affairs, or the executive director of the mayor’s office of special events, shall have the authority to promulgate reasonable rules and regulations governing the time, place manner and duration of all performances permitted under this chapter which occur during the course of a special event, including during the set up and clean up.
Such regulations shall include establishing specified areas within, or reasonably near the perimeter of, the grounds of a special event to which performers shall be limited, and such other restrictions as are reasonably necessary to ensure attendees’ enjoyment of planned events, protection of unique public art and landscapes, and public safety and welfare. Copies of such regulations shall be published and made available both in advance of and at the location of the special event.
(Added Coun. J. 12-9-92, p. 25465; Amend Coun. J. 4-21-99, p. 92524, § 2; Amend Coun. J. 2-8-06, p. 70052, § 1)
4-268-090 Constitutionality.
If any provision, clause, sentence, paragraph, section or part of this chapter shall, for any reason, be adjudged by a court of competent jurisdiction to be unconstitutional or invalid, said judgment shall not affect, impair or invalidate the remainder of this chapter. It is hereby declared to be the legislative intent of the council that this chapter would have been adopted had such unconstitutional or invalid provision, clause, sentence, paragraph, section or part thereof not been included.

Quiet Zones:

Quiet Zones Laws:
10-8-010 Establishment.
There is hereby created and established a zone of quiet in all territory embraced within the block upon which abuts the premises of any hospital owned, controlled or operated by the federal, state, county or city governments or any licensed hospital or home.
10-8-060 School zones of quiet.
There are hereby created and established zones of quiet during school hours in all public ways surrounding every block within which is located a building used, controlled, leased or operated for free common school education in the city.
It shall be the duty of the commissioner of transportation to place, or cause to be placed, on lampposts or some other conspicuous place, as near to each of the corners as practicable of every such block wherein such zone of quiet is established, as provided in this section, signs or placards displaying the words, “Notice Zone Of Quiet”.
10-8-070 Unnecessary noises.
The making, causing or permitting to be made of any unnecessary noise of any kind whatsoever, or the playing of itinerant musicians, or the making of noises for the purpose of advertising any goods, wares or merchandise, or of attracting the attention or inviting the patronage of any person to any business, or the playing of itinerant musicians upon the public ways within any zone of quiet established in accordance with this chapter, is hereby declared to be a nuisance, and is hereby prohibited.