Monday, May 21, 2007

News Racks and Art Vendors

In Nashville TN Metro Councilman Mike Jameson has co-sponsored legislation that would let Nashville charge publishers $50 per rack for initial permits and $10 per year after that.
The last sentence of an editorial by First Amendment Center's Gene Policinski says it all."...........the mayor’s veto racks up a win for one of our highest ideals: Under the First Amendment, government doesn’t get to play editor or publisher in the newsroom or on the street corner." At Art In The Market we say the same ....The City of St. Augustine does not have the right to designate that art vendors must display only art that is applied to canvas or paper , totally disallowing sculpture by omission. Yes, people have been charged with using the wrong media.
Rule of thumb for visual art vendors: If you see a newspaper vending machine on public property you may display and sell artwork under the same First Amendment Right. If your community officials are enlightened and respectful of the First Amendment you will not have problems. Here in St. Augustine Florida we have encountered a repeated long standing pattern of harrassment, arrests, tickets and confiscation.
As an art vendor, it is important to not block pedestrian traffic and observe reasonable time place and manner restrictions for public safety reasons. This is often used as a phony reason to have you move out. Last Sunday a Police Seargent (and published author) told an artist that his print rack at 3' wide x 1.5' deep print rack was blocking pedestrian traffic and must be moved off the 10' wide sidewalk. Photographs taken by the artist show otherwise with pedestrians easily strolling by. Interestingly,within sight, a T shirt shop had racks and racks of merchandise set up outside across the breadth of the old Woolworths. Over 1/4 of the sidewalk width was taken up with 3 for $10 T shirts. This is a daily occurance yet the police drive by a hundred times a day.. Free speech? The Federal Courts of Appeals have already determined that a T shirt printed with something like, "Pirate Girls Have Big Chests !" will not stand as Visual Art protected by The First Amendment. You can wear it as a First Amendment statement but you cannot merchandise it on public space. It has a secondary purpose.......Clothing. (Mastrovincenzo vs. Bloomberg)

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous28 May, 2007

    The police have "selective enforcement" downtown. They turn a blind eye to some things and go overboard on others.