Local News

Street Performers Upstaging Downtown Raleigh

Posted February 16, 2007

Downtown Raleigh's Fayetteville Street is the perfect stage for state employee Steve Harvell and his harmonicas.

On his lunch break from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, where he works as a curator for exhibit design, Harvell loves to perform.

"It makes everybody smile," he said. "I haven't seen anybody yet that doesn't at least smile."

Street performers like Harvell have no real history or culture in Raleigh, but now there is a new push to get more of them to showcase their act.

“The streets convey the personality of the city," said artist and musician Dan Nelson. "It's not what goes on inside the buildings. It's what goes on the streets."

The act of street performing is included in a new city policy on the private use of public space. Performers are required to get a permit and they must also control their volume or risk breaking the rules on noise levels.

Nelson believe street performers are a vital part of Fayetteville Street's success and has created an organization to recruit, train and educate performers.

Downtown advocates say it could help ensure quality performances

“If the group can work to screen some of the folks and make sure what they are doing is based on some sort of talent or desire, we feel like it can be a very strong attribute,” said Kris Larson, deputy director of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.

The group would eventually like to sponsor concerts every day at lunch. Members will try to recruit school groups and other artists for one-time performances.

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  • mntndreamn Feb 18, 2007

    Hmmmmm... Has Raleigh's City Government already forgotten the 'artful sign' problem on Capital Blvd a few years back? They, (meaning the city government), thought the art work on Capital Blvd would show a city of artsy folk. Instead, it became a joke and they eventually took it down. I truly think screening is a form of censorship. And the City Government is in NO position to know what is good art or not good art. Everyone should be allowed to perform unless what they are doing is against the law, ie: loud noise, etc.
    My 2 cents worth.

  • Gnathostomata Feb 17, 2007

    If it works, why organize it and screen participants for talent or desire or whatever? It is understandible why a permit is needed, and the need for volume control, and maybe a clause stating the act cannot block foot traffic or streets, but why can one group determine who has talent?

    Where did I put that soap box???

  • dhamma Feb 17, 2007

    Naked Cowboy would be a fantastic addition to Downtown talent. WRAL take note, book him soon!

  • BIG YAWN Feb 17, 2007

    It would be sort of like a New Orleans light. Jugglers, unicycles, clowns, voodoo...I guess it can work.

  • madbrewdawg Feb 17, 2007

    What is up with you people and the negativity of street performing. With all the pressures and stress in life it would be wonderful to be able to walk out into a nostalgic way of life with performances that would encourage people to "stop and smell the roses" per say. Everyone needs to take the time in life if only in passing and allowing but a brief moment to enjoy the talents others can bring them. Personally I love the idea and although we may all have different tastes and each performance may not be to everyone's liking, it still allows us the opportunity to realize there is still life out there to enjoy.

  • 2AMANDA2 Feb 17, 2007

    i am confused. they are trying to diminish the homeless population that lives in downtown, but are encouraging street performing. i know all street performers are not homeless, but that could be a catch twenty-two.

  • BorgFree Feb 17, 2007

    YAY! That's three for the Naked Cowboy!! Now let's seeeee... preforming...

  • JustAGirl Feb 17, 2007

    I, also, would like a Naked Cowboy in Raleigh.

  • wd Feb 16, 2007

    When I went to state, there was this guy who would stand on the corner and argue with the public telephone. Is that considered street performing? It was entertaining, that's for sure. And I don't think he was performing. That was from the heart.

  • Hezekiah Feb 16, 2007

    A Naked Cowboy is the last thing we need.