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Riverside may require permits for Festival of Lights street performers

By in Press Enterprise on August 23, 2017

By Alicia Robinson

Riverside officials are rethinking restrictions on where and when musicians, dancers and other street performers could demonstrate their talents at the 2017 Festival of Lights.

Swelling crowds at the six-week holiday event have raised concerns about public safety and crowd control, city officials say.

In response, staff suggested making a broad swath of downtown off limits to street performers during the festival’s opening-night switch-on ceremony, which can draw 60,000 or more spectators, and keeping them away from the Main Street mall and blocks that border the Mission Inn on the busiest times — Thursday through Sunday evenings.

But several local musicians said encountering random performances around the downtown adds to the festival’s unique charm, and that some artists’ income depends on tip money from the well-attended festival.

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The city sponsors two stages for scheduled performances and anyone can apply for a spot there, but some performers prefer a less structured setting and more direct contact with spectators.

Ralph Torres, a Riverside resident who plays in several bands, said he understands the city’s safety concerns, but street performers shouldn’t be punished for helping make the event as successful as it is today.

“We have world-class entertainment that comes down and plays for free on your streets,” he said.

A depleted City Council — the Ward 7 seat is vacant and councilmen Chris Mac Arthur and Jim Perry were absent — voted Tuesday, Aug. 22, to seek input from local performers and come back to the council with new suggestions that would address their needs as well as […]    

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