Sidewalk Performer Guidelines
The City of Portsmouth welcomes performance artists who seek to share their talents and skills with residents of, and visitors to, the City of Portsmouth. In order to make your experience in Portsmouth a positive one, the City has provided recommendations and guidance regarding sidewalk and other performance opportunities.
The City does not directly regulate sidewalk performers such as magicians, musicians, dancers and mimes. Permits are not required for performances that do not require tables, chairs and other stationary props. Donations may be accepted.
Sidewalk performers are, however, subject to noise, sidewalk obstruction, vending and other ordinances in the same manner as all other persons. As a result, sidewalk performers are not permitted to use amplification or drums or to obstruct the sidewalk.
If you as are interested in setting up a table, chair or other stationary prop as part of a performance, you are required to obtain a sidewalk obstruction permit. An application for a permit may be obtained by contacting the City Clerk's office. Approval of the City Council (which meets once or twice per month) is required along with proof of insurance.
If you are interested in offering items for sale, you are required to obtain a vending permit (click here). An application for a permit may be obtained by contacting the City Clerk's office or by clicking here. Approval of the City Council (which meets once or twice per month) is required along with proof of insurance.
Other Performance Venues:
Events Organized by Pro-Portsmouth. The City Council authorizes several events throughout the year at which performances of various types are scheduled. These include Market Square Day, Pleasant Street closures, and First Night. Amplified music and drums are permitted at certain locations at these events. These events are organized by Pro Portsmouth. The organization can be reached at (603) 433-4398 or www.proportsmouth.org.
Vaughan Mall Stage. In addition, the City has a small stage at the Vaughan Mall that is available to organizations seeking to promote the arts to schedule performances. Approval by the City Council is required for use of this stage, but amplification and drums may be permitted from time to time at that location under certain conditions.
The Prescott Park. The Prescott Park Arts Festival is responsible for organizing and scheduling activities occurring on the stage in Prescott Park. That organization can be contacted at (603) 436-2848 or www.prescottpark.org.
Farmer's Market. The Seacoast Growers Association is responsible for operating the Farmer's Market held at the municipal parking lot at 1 Junkins Avenue. The Market is held on Saturday mornings from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. during the season. That organization may be contacted at P.O. Box 4401.
Choose your performance location carefully. Some of the City's downtown sidewalks are narrow and become highly congested. Consequently, they are not good locations for performing. Performers and/or bystanders will be asked to move to a different location if sidewalks are obstructed and pedestrians cannot easily pass by.
Be considerate with regard to volume. The level of noise generated by your performance may be considered by some to be a nuisance. Both local business owners and downtown residents may find that your loud performance detracts from their business opportunities and from the quality of life. For this reason, drums and amplification are generally prohibited on the sidewalks.
Respect your fellow sidewalk performer. Leave an adequate distance between you and any other sidewalk performer.
Avoid performances that might cause a danger. The City does not support the use of flame, knives, hatchets, or other potentially dangerous objects as part of any act on the City sidewalks. Such performance activities will receive close scrutiny. It is difficult to maintain the safety of pedestrians on a busy City sidewalk regardless of your skill level.
If you have questions, please contact Nancy Carmer, Portsmouth City Hall, NH, 03801. Telephone: (603) 610-7220.
Thank you for your considerate participation in the City's cultural community and for your adherence to these guidelines and City regulations.
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