Busking in the neo-liberal city: A critical inventory of a selection of street art ordinances in Austria | Intellect Skip to content
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Buskers: Community, Culture, Commodity
  • ISSN: 1752-6299
  • E-ISSN: 1752-6302

Abstract

The conditions under which buskers pursue their art have never been easy, but their situation has become even more complicated recently, as public spaces worldwide have been transformed under rampant neo-liberal conditions. Street music today often takes place against the backdrop of globally oriented urban planning, which is frequently shaped by neo-liberal considerations that ascribe specific qualities and functions to public outdoor places and spaces. By subjecting these spaces, which remain central for street music activities even in the digital age, to increasing official control and regulation, street musicians are often exposed to a regulatory frenzy – enacted by local politics and executed by local authorities – that makes it difficult or even impossible for many of them to perform in public in a manner of their choosing. Moreover, under such conditions the creative potential of street music is not allowed to unfold in its breadth and heterogeneity, but only in a limited manner. An analysis of the street art ordinances of the cities of Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck exemplifies the status quo in Austria in this regard and demonstrates how different the political strategies for dealing with street music are in this self-proclaimed country of music. Rather than being seen as a nuisance to be controlled, it is argued that a rich and diverse street music landscape has a significant democratic potential, which would flourish under a more sensitive approach to public spaces on the part of politics and city planning.

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2023-09-11
2024-02-29
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