Proposed Street Vending Laws Offend A.R.T.I.S.T.

By: Alexa DePalma

The New York City Parks Department as well as Mayor Bloomberg, in the past year was in works to change the Park laws regarding artists and vendors to be able to sell their work in public places. A.R.T.I.S.T. or Artists’ Response to Illegal State Tactics was set up in 1993 to counter and have first amendment protection regarding the vending and sale of art on New York City streets and parks. A.R.T.I.S.T. is organized to counter and fight these types of changes. Robert Lederman, the president of A.R.T.I.S.T., was able establish the current laws giving those selling visual art, the same protections as a vendor selling a book or newspaper. These lawsuits were in response to numerous arrests occurring at the High Line Park.

The Parks Department proposed new rules to keep “expressive material vendors in line.” These rules are suggested for four main parks: Central Park, Union Square, Battery Park, and the High Line. One of the proposed rules involves “a first come, first serve rule,” which is seen as potentially dangerous due to the chance of altercations from putting artists against one another. Although Bloomberg is trying to reduce congestion, there are already existing rules to combat this that are just not properly enforced says Lederman.

Although most artists are willing to fight these new provisions, the general public has different opinions. Most want to protect the will of the artists, but are not fans of the mass produced vendors or tourist items whom happen to clog up the subway stations.

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