Gothenburg lifts limits on street musicians

Street performers will once again be allowed to play music in downtown Gothenburg after the town council voted to reverse a controversial ordinance forcing musicians to seek permits.

Gothenburg lifts limits on street musicians

The council’s decision, taken Friday afternoon, nullifies rules which came into force in June 2009 that placed limits on the times and places where street musicians could play and required performers to seek permits from police to play in central Gothenburg during business hours.

Within seconds of the decision, Green Party council member Karin Pleijel decided to show her enthusiasm for the reversal by pulling out a ukulele and strumming a few bars in the council chambers, angering council chair Jörgen Linder.

“It was just a way to show our thanks that this happened and say thank you to the Gothenburg town council for making such a wise decision,” Pleijel told SR.

Pleijel admitted that her actions were “out of order” but made no indication that she regretted her spontaneous performance.

The 2009 ordinance resulted in a wave of public protests from musicians and residents who felt the council had acted with a heavy hand in response to complaints from shop owners and employees who found the street performers’ music disruptive.

“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?” Madeleine Oom Wahlberg, who represents business owners on Gothenburg’s main commercial thoroughfare, Avenyn (‘The Avenue’), told SR when the ordinance was initially passed.

The decision taken Friday doesn’t give street performers free rein, however.

While scrapping the permit requirement, the council decision now requires musicians to play for no more than one hour at a time in the same location, and good judgment should be applied when using amplifiers.

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