1 read with astonishment the latest effort of the bureaucrats to "manage" any spontaneous creaüvity that might get out of hand during the Art i-airs, by banning unscheduled and unplanned street music. The Observer Art Fair Guide reports that all street musicians will be told to "move on" by the pólice if they have not been so lucky as to sign up for certain scheduled and controlled spots and times, far in advance of the fairs. The powers that be claim that artists and merchants need to be "placated" from "disruption" by street performers. I find this hard to believe. If one or two artists had expressed negative feelings lately, would the chance be undoubtedty snapped up by the waiting bureaucrats? Along with many other Ann Arbor musician friends, I did the "street musician" thing innumerable times during Art Fairs, and never once did we hear anything negative about our being there. Artists would come up to our groups, singing and playing in the heat and dust, and thank us for staying by their booths and thus advertising them. One offered to buy us lemonade if we would stay put. Fairgoers tossed money, flowers, notes of thanks, sketches, and requests for songs into our guitar cases. A smiling artist once dropped in a ceramic necklace. They applauded, called thanks, smiled, and photographed. I always thought this was part of the magie of the fairs. In 1988 the Ann Arbor News Art Fair Guide reported, "Many impromptu concerts and street acts add to the festivities..."and the Michigan Daily wrote, "But the most refreshing of all are the freelancers... actual live music... without sponsors or schedules, by people playing just because they want to..." And yet, that same year, I saw pólice officers teil an extraordinarily talented trio of scat singers to "move on," as they sang on the grass near the Diag to a small group of appreciative listeners. They were not "blocking traffic," were not amplified, and were, I thought, just what the art fair guides were talking about. "When the people lead, the leaders follow." If street music becomes a crime , you can believe that the whole art fair scène is indeed headed straight for the racks at K-Mart. "Welcome to Ann Arbor; now go home!"
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