Threaten a bunch of artists and you're going to get some elaborate protest signage. That old maxim was proven yet again today as the creative class turned out in force to rally against the Parks Department's proposed new rules to limit the real estate available to those who display "expressive matter" in four parks around the city. The hearing in Chelsea drew hundreds, the vast majority of those in opposition to the rules. The artists arrived early and gathered out front for a demonstration, complete with big banners and lots of media, with rabble-rouser Robert Lederman in the lead.
Inside the hearing decorum reigned, with speakers allowed three minutes each. City Councilman Dan Garodnick, whose district covers the eastern side of Central Park, sent a spokesperson and registered his approval of the proposals, but made note that the plan to limit the numbers of artists by using a first-come-first-serve rule would be unworkable and could lead to artistic altercations. Others spoke in general approval of the rules, yearning for parks where people can stroll and play and not trip over vendors' tables.
Finally it was the artists' turn, and Lederman rose and testified that it wasn't artists who were causing crowds in Union Square, but rather the Parks-sanctioned Greenmarket and Holiday Market Fair that take up huge swaths of the park and block paths and subway entrances. The artists in the room cheered. It's all a bit of kabuki theater, New York style, but as for how it will turn out: TBD.
· Parks Department Trying to Get Tough With Artists [Curbed]