Local News

Street Performers Upstaging Downtown Raleigh

Posted February 16, 2007 6:11 p.m. EST

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.