LIKE Bob Dylan fans in the 1960s, Fremantle city council is nervous about electric folk, and is looking to make buskers apply for a permit to use an amplifier.
Mayor Brad Pettitt says the policy is still in the discussion phase, but last weekend a busker got a taste of what life might be like in the future.
“So today I’ve been stopped from making a living on the streets of Fremantle at Shanghai food court as a busker with an amp,” Matthew Joel, aka Matt Montego’Ikarus, posted on Facebook.
“I stand for the right to busk in Fremantle with an amp without a permit and I will not stop hassling the council until I get that right BACK.
“I am starting a petition the council must pay attention to or face mass public disapproval. Fremantle has lost most of its culture and it seems this is the last straw to a city that holds a namesake for being ‘an alternative living hotspot’. Let’s save the culture of Fremantle!”
Mr Joel noted rangers had swooped following last weekend’s Fremantle Street Arts Festival, where more than 100,000 people celebrated busker culture.
A council spokesperson says it’s all an “unfortunate internal misunderstanding” and rangers shouldn’t have acted.
Dr Pettitt envisages amp permits will be free and issued on the spot, and will only be revoked if a busker plays too loudly or for too long.
“This has been an ongoing issue for a while and we’ve had complaints from people and businesses in the CBD, especially in the cappuccino strip, so it does need to be regulated,” he says.
“As technology has improved, small amplifiers have got louder and cheaper, so volume levels have gone up.
“I don’t think regulation would make the city less bohemian, if anything it will be more bohemian if more people are playing acoustic guitars.”
Mr Joel, chairperson for a group calling itself the buskers rights association, has created a petition calling for permit-free electrification: http://www.change.org/p/fremantle-city-council-the-right-to-busk-with-an-amp-in-fremantle-without-a-permit?
So far its got 160 signatures.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK