I’ve blogged now and again about the unethical practices of some (that’s SOME, not ALL) street caricature artists who steal the work of others from books or the Internet and display them as if they were their own. I’d like that practice to go away, but I certainly wouldn’t want to see this happen:
According to the linked article from the New York Times, NYC’s Park and Recreations Dept. has proposed to limit the “number of vendors allowed in parts of Central Park and all of Union Square Park, Battery Park and the High Line Park.” The proposal would limit the number of artists selling visual arts and printed texts to a total of 81 (given on a first come-first-served basis), where over 300 now operate in those areas. There would also be limits on the dimensions of tables and the proximity to things like monuments and benches.
The proponents of the idea say the number of vendors is overwhelming the parks, creating pedestrian movement issues and hazards by blocking sidewalks and walkways. There are also complaints that too many vendors don’t sell real art, but cheap mass-produced souvenirs, but I didn’t see anything in the proposal that addresses what is being sold.
Those critical of the proposal say it will ruin what makes New York City such a bastion of art and free expression… and thin out their wallets of course.
I can understand the idea that there must be some limits as to how many of these vendors can be set up at a time… after all the parks are there for people to enjoy and if they are packed fence to fence with people selling tiny statue of liberties and “I heart NYC” shirts it would be pretty hard to enjoy. Still, the street vendors are a part of NYC’s charm, and it would be a shame to see them too severly limited. Also, I can only imagine the chaos that would ensue with 300 vendors trying to show up to be first-come-first-served for one of only 81 spots. Violence? No doubt. Better to use some kind of advanced random lottery licensing system to avoid that kind of debacle.
Better yet, make all street caricature artists submit samples for approval that they prove they actually drew themselves! That would weed out about 150 of the 300 current street artists right there!
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