Busking

Busking

Busking restrictions and physical distancing rules for managing crowds

We only encourage certain types of busking while physical distancing is in place.

We welcome acts by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and performances that don’t encourage people to dwell.

Other types of busking such as circle acts and group performances aren’t encouraged.

We’re not carrying out high impact assessments for new busking applications or issuing new permits during this time.

Your responsibilities

If you’re still busking, it’s your responsibility to manage your crowds in line with NSW Health restrictions.

You must:

  • remind your audiences to keep 1.5m from other people
  • keep 1.5m from others and practice good hand hygiene.

If you’ve travelled overseas or come into contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19, you must self-isolate for 14 days.

City rangers will monitor busking performances and advise about these restrictions as needed.

 

Busking information

Sydney is a great busking city and we welcome the positive contribution that buskers make to our city.

This section provides key information about busking in Sydney and surrounding suburbs.

This information does not apply to land managed by other agencies, including:

  • Centennial Parklands
  • Circular Quay, Darling Harbour and The Rocks (Property NSW)
  • Sydney Opera House
  • The Royal Botanic Garden (includes The Domain)
  • UrbanGrowth NSW Development Corporation.

You’ll need to contact these agencies for details about their busking policies.

The busking application process

When applying for approval you’ll need to provide:

  • a completed application form
  • proof of identity
  • proof of a high impact assessment (if applicable).

We'll take a photo of you for your permit (except under special circumstances) and permits will be issued over the counter the same day you apply.

Permit costs

Busking permits are available for 3 months (quarterly) or for 12 months (yearly). The 3 month permit is $13. The 12 month permit is $47.

Permit types

There are 3 types of busking permit: low impact, high impact and extended duration. Before applying, buskers are asked to self-assess the category that best suits their act using the criteria in the table below.

High impact assessments

If your act falls in the high impact category, or you are on probation following a breach of the policy or Sydney busking code, you may need to attend a high impact assessment before you can renew or gain a busking permit (see busking permit application table below for further details).

High impact assessments are scheduled for the 3rd Tuesday of each month. To make an appointment, email busking@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au by the Friday before the review takes place.

Areas where buskers can perform

Buskers can perform in permitted areas provided they adhere to the City of Sydney Busking and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural practice policy and the Sydney busking code.

Special busking sites have additional conditions (refer to the Sydney busking code).

Hyde Park north

  • Archibald Fountain
  • St James station entrance, corner Elizabeth and Market streets
  • intersection of Park and Elizabeth streets.

Martin Place

  • intersection of Pitt Street and Martin Place, east of the Lloyd Rees Fountain
  • other Martin Place busking locations are currently effected by road and building works.

Pitt Street Mall

  • north (near King Street intersection)
  • central (near MidCity Centre)
  • south (near Market Street intersection).

QVB forecourt

  • southern forecourt only.

Busking permit application

Busking permit categories, their criteria and conditions are listed in the following table:

Low impactHigh impactExtended duration

A small footprint in public space with sound that is easily managed.

A large footprint in public space and/or have sound that is harder to manage and/or use materials that pose a greater risk.

Minimal impact on nearby people or places but need a long period of time to be performed.

Criteria:

  • under 2m² performance space
  • encourages an audience to gather, wait and watch
  • amplified instruments that can have their volume adjusted
  • non-amplified instruments that can be played at lower volume.

Criteria:

  • over 2m² performance space
  • encourages an audience to gather, wait and watch
  • uses higher risk equipment or materials
  • incorporates instruments that are naturally loud even without amplification.

Criteria:

  • artwork that is made continuously over a long time
  • quiet, non-musical and non-amplified.

Examples:

  • solo performers or small groups of 4 or less, musicians, magicians, puppeteers.

Examples:

  • groups of 5 or more, acrobats, circus acts.

Examples:

  • pavements artists, durational performance artists, human statues.

Conditions:

  • max 2 hours per location per day.

Conditions:

  • max 1 hours per location per day
  • fire acts are not permitted.

Conditions:

  • maximum 8 hours per location per day.

Act assessment:

  • does not require assessment
  • repeated issues with an act may result in an assessment to see if the act should be re-classified as high impact.

Act assessment:

  • requires assessment*
  • other acts may require an assessment based on a case-by-case basis – acts may be deemed low impact at assessment if a busker with a naturally loud instrument can demonstrate they can play at a considered volume.

Act assessment:

  • does not require assessment.
Areas not covered by the City of Sydney
Property NSW
The Royal Botanic Gardens (including The Domain)
Sydney Opera House Site
UrbanGrowth NSW Development Corporation
Centennial Parklands

Busking etiquette

You can read tips for good busking and learn more about what is expected of buskers in the city by downloading or picking up the Sydney busking code.

When performing in public places buskers must make sure their act:

  • does not obstruct pedestrian or vehicle traffic and entrances to shops or buildings
  • is not excessively loud
  • does not include animals
  • does not vilify or abuse any member of the community
  • complies with the conditions of special busking sites, as outlined in the Sydney busking code.

Non-compliance can be reported to the City any day, anytime. Our staff will investigate each complaint received and take appropriate action.

Last updated: Wednesday, 1 July 2020