Busking

Busking

Busking information

Sydney is a great busking city and we welcome the positive contribution which 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)
  • Royal Botanic Gardens and The Domain Trust
  • Sydney Opera House
  • Urban Growth 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 will 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 three types of busking permit: low impact, high impact and extended duration. Before applying, buskers are asked to self-assess which category best suits their act using the criteria in the table below.

High impact assessments

If your acts 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 prior to renewing or gaining a busking permit (see Busking permit application table for further details).

High impact assessments are scheduled for the 3rd Tuesday of each month. Appointments are made by emailing 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 local approvals policy for busking and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural practice and 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 Mid City 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 impact High impact Extended 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
  • 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, musicians, magicians, puppeteers

Examples:

  • Dance groups of 5 or more, acrobats, circus acts*, drummers, bagpipes, brass instruments

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:

  • Max 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
Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority
Royal Botanic Gardens and The Domain Trust
Sydney Opera House Site
Urban Growth NSW Development Corporation
Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust
Centennial Park & Moore Park Trust and NSW Roads and Maritime Services

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, unless genuine assistance 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: Friday, 30 August 2019