Hamilton has a long history of supporting the animation of City and public spaces. For example, the City developed a Street Performance Policy in 2011. The City recognizes that street performances can play an integral part in animating public spaces, such as downtowns, and therefore, can be a positive contributor to urban life. A public survey found that most Hamilton residents (91%) believed that street performances add to the vibrancy of an area (91%). For the health and safety of the public and potential performers it is important to understand what can be included in performances and where they can take place.
Frequently Asked Questions
A street performer or busker is one individual or very small group of individuals who provides free and spontaneous entertainment in public spaces and can include musicians, poets, acrobats, jugglers, mimes, magicians, artists, and a variety of other types of performers.
Street performances can enhance residents’ and visitors’ experiences in a city and can create inspiring and uplifting memories. They also offer performers with an opportunity to express, share, and practice their craft. Street or public performances can help animate public spaces and provide opportunities for people to feel connected and experience live performance.
A street performer can perform for a maximum of three (3) hours at one location and performances can be acoustic or a maximum of 60 decibels via a battery-operated only device. Street performers are able to receive voluntary donations from the public, but cannot actively solicit funds; and if they are selling goods they do require a City of Hamilton business licence.
No, you don’t require a permit to do a street performance in the City of Hamilton.
Performances are welcome at outdoor public places in Hamilton such as:
- City Parks
- Sidewalks, but performers cannot block access or impede accessibility; and
- City-owned and/or publicly accessible outdoor spaces such as Civic Museums as long as they don’t block access to entrances or exits, cause damage gardens, buildings, or infrastructure etc. or interfere with pre-booked events.
Street performances are not permitted:
- on private property without permission from the property owner;
- at transit stops, in transit vehicles, or near public toilet facilities;
- at locations/spaces that interfere with pedestrian or vehicular traffic flow or encourage audience formation in such a manner as to cause such interference. (i.e. cannot: block sidewalks or access to City facilities; take place on roads, parking spaces or lots);
- when another user has booked a park or City facility/space for their event or activity;
- if the performance poses a health and safety risk to the performer or public (i.e. no knives, swords, chainsaws, fire or flammable liquids); and/or
- on the occasion where Police or City staff identify the space or performance as unsafe.
Performers can place an instrument case, hat, or other container on the ground where audiences can freely decide if they want to provide a donation for the performance. Performers themselves should not aggressively or persistently request, follow, or harass the public by actively asking for money or donations as these actions and behaviours fall under the Ontario Safe Streets Act.