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Street entertainment – Busking

Street Activity Policy 2011

The City of Melbourne is proud of its reputation for supporting lively street culture and greatly values the diversity of entertainment that buskers provide in the public realm.

In 2011, the Council approved the Street Activity Policy 2011, the supporting policy operating statements and the City of Melbourne’s Busking Guidelines.

Read the Street Activity Policy and minutes from the Future Melbourne Committee Meeting.

Read the media release.

What is busking?

A busker is considered to be an entertainer who is actively providing a performance in the public place in exchange for a donation.

Busking is defined as sounding or playing a musical instrument, singing, giving a recitation or performing, conjuring, juggling, puppetry, miming, dancing, entertaining or doing any of these things concurrently.

Busking also includes the activity of drawing any message, picture or representation on a pavement, paper or canvas surface.

What is not considered busking?

The activities listed below are not considered busking.
Busking permits will not be issued for any of the following activities:

  • vendors of any kind – including glow sticks, flowers, jewellery and other merchandise sellers
  • fundraising, events or promotions even if they involve any element of performance as listed previously
  • touting or spruiking
  • political rallying
  • religious spruiking
  • tarot card reading, palmistry and fortune telling
  • massage, chiropractic treatment or any other physical manipulation
  • face or body painting
  • artists selling pre-fabricated work – pavement artists must be actively engaged in producing their artistic medium and not simply selling displayed goods
  • temporary tattoo applications
  • any activity defined as street trading pursuant to City of Melbourne’s Street Activity Policy 2011
  • begging (begging is illegal under the Summary Offences Act and enforcement is the responsibility of the Victoria Police).

Busking permits will not be issued to individuals, clubs or companies wanting to promote their business or activities or fundraise on behalf of another individual, organisation or entity even if they are engaging in a public performance to do so.

Further information

Busking Fact Sheet:

Busking fact sheet 2011 (PDF, 131kb)
Busking fact sheet 2011 (Word, 26kb)

Busking Guidelines 2011:

Busking Guidelines 2011 (PDF, 311kb)
Busking Guidelines 2011 (Word, 160kb)

Busking permits

There are four categories of busking permit:

  • General area
    Applies to buskers who do not use any dangerous goods in their performance and may generally busk anywhere in the municipality except for the Bourke Street Mall, designated Circle Act sites and other restricted areas as specified. 
  • Bourke Street Mall
    Applies to professional buskers who perform in the Bourke Street Mall. 
  • Pavement art
    Applies to artists who are actively engaged in an artistic medium such as chalk art or painting. 
  • Circle act (with or without dangerous goods)
    Applies to performers who have a structured performance that requires an audience to stop, watch and participate in a performance.

Fees

  • An application fee of $20 per year will apply for all new permit applications.
  • A reapplication fee of $10 per year will apply for all permit types.
  • An application fee of $10 for short term permits for interstate/international applicants which are valid for three (3) months.
  • A fee of $50 will apply for those wishing to sell CDs, DVDs or other original merchandise while they are busking.

How to apply

Part 1: Submitting your application

Important: Please check the list of Safety, Amenity and Performance Review Dates below before applying online. Ideally you should aim to apply as close as possible to the review date that you plan to attend, as permits are prepared in advance to start from the day that you attend a review.

Part 2: Safety, amenity and performance review

Attendance at a Safety, Amenity and Performance Review is a required part of the busking permit application process.

Full permits will not be issued until an applicant has attended and passed a Safety, Amenity and Performance Review and paid any relevant fees.

Eligible applicants who apply online will receive their permit at the review they attend.

View the dates for 2015:

Busking permit renewal

Visit Busking permit renewal for details of requirements for a renewal of a City of Melbourne busking permit.

Buskers under 16 years of age

Buskers who are under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian at the safety and amenity review and while busking. A parent or adult guardian must show photo ID and provide written consent at the time of application.

Busking database – list of performers

The City of Melbourne busking database is kept strictly private and confidential. If you are looking for a performer for a gig, festival or corporate function or have any other opportunities for buskers, please call 03 9658 9658 or send through all relevant and specific details, including any flyers using our online contact form.

School and student groups visiting the city

For more information please call 03 9658 9658 or contact us online

More questions?

First, please read through the Busking Guidelines 2011. If you have further questions, please call the City of Melbourne on 03 9658 9658 or contact us online.



Woman with street performers