Gothenburg's new rules strike bum note with street musicians

David Landes
David Landes - [email protected]
Gothenburg's new rules strike bum note with street musicians

Starting on July 1st, tourists visiting Gothenburg may find the city’s streets quieter than usual due to a controversial new ordinance requiring permits for street performers.


“It doesn’t seem to fit with Gothenburg’s reputation as an entertainment and tourist city. Music is important for life on the streets,” said saxophonist Martin Nurmi to the Göteborgs-Posten (GP) newspaper.

The new law, which is designed to place limits on the times and places where street musicians can play, will require performers to seek permits from police to play in central Gothenburg during business hours.

The new requirements were drawn up in response to complaints from employees at shops and restaurants near where street musicians have a habit of playing.

“We’ve tried to get those who play for really, really long periods of time to change places and not stand in the same place all the time, and to maybe play more than two songs. It can be really annoying,” said Madeleine Oom Wahlberg, who represents business owners on Gothenburg’s main commercial thoroughfare, Avenyn (‘The Avenue’), to Sveriges Radio (SR).

“Imagine having a tape player at your workplace with loud accordions or something like that playing three songs with only half the notes in tune. How long do you think you could stand to listen before you pushed the off-button?”

Another street musician, Petter Rosenlundh, is sympathetic to the concerns of store employees but still questions the fairness of the new regulations.

“The city belongs to everyone. Who can really decide over public spaces?” he asked the newspaper, adding that many shops play music which can be heard outside their doors.

Torbjörn Arro Förbergers, who moved to Gothenburg several months ago and supports himself by playing guitar in various locations around the city, hopes that critics of the new law can convince politicians to make changes.

“I think it’s ridiculous. That people who play music seriously aren’t allowed to play is just silly,” he told GP.

Gothenburg resident Jan Pedersen enjoys the sounds of the city’s various street musicians, but also understands the need for regulation, proposing that a limited number of spaces be rented out to street musicians.

“Just like someone who wants to rent out a booth in a market, they ought to be able to rent out spaces to street musicians. They way they get a certain amount of legitimacy,” he told the newspaper.


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