On any given day, performance art and music echoes throughout Asheville’s vibrant downtown. But with it has come challenges at times, especially regarding pedestrian safety as impromptu audiences that spill into streets, block downtown business entries or access to sidewalks.
To enhance safety and place-making downtown, City staff continues to work with community stakeholders and City Council’s Public Safety Committee to develop a multifaceted approach to address public space management, including management of sidewalk street performances.
Dialog has produced a meaningful exchange of ideas, and led to the launch of a pilot program that began in September 2016 for designated “high impact” street performance areas downtown. In December 2016, the City collaborated with the Asheville Buskers Collective to produce a brochure titled “Street Performers,” which provides information about relevant policies, the pilot program, and serves as a guide for the creative community taking it to the street with their music and art.
The two locations included in the pilot program are:
- Woolworth Walk sidewalk in the vicinity of the intersection of Haywood Street and Battery Park Avenue;
- The sidewalk adjacent to the Flat Iron Sculpture at the intersection of Wall Street and Battery Park Avenue.
Staff worked with a local artist to develop a symbol to designate each center point of the two high-impact areas and a footprint next to the center points indicating 6-foot passable space for pedestrians. At these two locations, only one audible performance may occur between the marked center point and a 120-foot radius.
The Asheville Buskers Collective has helped spread the safety message, urging street performers to assist in keeping the minimum sidewalk area clear for pedestrian traffic and to remind pedestrians not to gather or walk in the street due to the street performance.
The initiative continues with quarterly check-ins and updates to the City’s Public Safety Committee to include feedback from businesses, residents, street performers and Asheville Police.
Checking in with the public
As part of the pilot program evaluation and overall feedback, the City is launching a survey on Open City Hall Asheville to learn more about how street performances impact the downtown experience. From now until Sept. 24, log on to Open City Hall Asheville to take this survey. While not necessary to participate, registration on Open City Hall Asheville is quick and easy: three fields to fill out and you are done. No information is shared with a third party.
Please participate! Your input will add valued insight into how we’re doing and how we can improve going forward.