Archive for April, 2010

BIG NEWS for NEW YORK artists: NYCLU rejects Park rules proposal

April 27, 2010


Breaking News: NYCLU (New York Civil Liberties Union) Rejects Proposed Park Rules for Artists

Destinations Examiner reporter Leslie Koch just broke the news that the NYCLU has come out very strongly against the proposed Park rules for artists. Her just published article is below this press release from the NYCLU. If you go to the site above you can download the NYCLU press release and related materials. Needless to say, when the #1 advocacy group for First Amendment rights comes out against the Parks Department and for our side, it is a very good development!

NYCLU to Parks Department: Withdraw Proposed Vendor Restrictions Until Questions Answered

April 23, 2010 — The New York Civil Liberties Union today urged the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to reconsider its proposal to restrict the number and location of vendors at several city parks on the grounds that the City has not made enough information public to allow for a determination of if the proposed rules run afoul of the First Amendment. Questions also remain as to whether the first-come, first-served approach to vending locations will result in a fair allocation of space, and if the proposed limits are truly appropriate in all of the impacted neighborhoods.

“Parks have historically been recognized as vitally important for social, artistic and political expression,” said NYCLU Legal Director Arthur Eisenberg. “The Parks Department should make every effort to accommodate our city’s artists, poets and authors. It must withdraw its proposal until it can publicly demonstrate it is meeting its First Amendment obligations.”

In a letter sent Friday afternoon to Alessandro G. Olivieri, general counsel to the Department of Parks & Recreation, Eisenberg and NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman outlined three concerns regarding the proposed vendor restrictions:

* That the Parks Department has “failed utterly” to make public data demonstrating that its proposal is reasonable and leaves open ample alternatives;

* That a first-come, first-served system for getting vendor space runs the risk that a few vendors and their agents will obtain more than their fair share of sites for more than their fair share of time;

* And that any restrictions placed should be tailored to their communities as the residents of Greenwich Village, where Union Square Park is located, “can tolerate a level of disorder and energy” that residents near Central Park may object to.

According to press reports, the Parks Department’s proposal will reduce by 75 percent the number of people engaging in the vending of expressive materials.

“The Parks Department has failed utterly to provide the public with the census information and utilization necessary to reach a fair judgment as to whether the limitations contemplated by this proposal are ‘reasonable time, place and manner’ measures sufficient to satisfy the City’s constitutional obligations under the First Amendment,” the letter states.

“So severe a reduction in the number of expressive opportunities will be treated with considerable skepticism by the vendors and by the fair-minded public. To overcome such skepticism, the Parks Department will need to come forward with powerful evidence and persuasive data to demonstrate the reasonableness of this measure. It has not done so to date.”

The NYCLU urged the Parks Department to withdraw its proposed regulation until it makes public the data necessary to assess the reasonableness of the limits. It also requested that the Parks Department re-evaluate its methodology for awarding locations and that it reconsider the differences in the aesthetics of each park as it makes restrictions.

“Our artists are part of why New York City is the best city in the world,” Lieberman said. “We must be certain that any restrictions we place on them allows our community to retain its vibrant culture.”

New York Civil Liberties Union | 125 Broad Street, New York, NY
10004 | Phone 212-607-3300

NYCLU urges Parks Department: Withdraw proposed restrictions on art vendors
April 27, 5:11 PMNY Destinations ExaminerLeslie Koch

The Parks Department should withdraw its proposal to limit expressive matter vendors in city parks, said the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) on Friday.

The NYCLU, a non-profit organization dedicated to defending civil liberties and civil rights, criticized the Parks Department for its “lack of transparency” in a letter addressed to Alessandro G. Olivieri, the Parks Department’s legal counsel.

Hundreds of street artists protested the Parks Department’s plan to restrict the number and location of expressive matter vendors in Manhattan parks, on Friday April 23, 2010. (Photo: Lauren Hillary)

The Parks Department proposal would eliminate roughly 75% of the vendors selling fine art and other expressive materials in four popular Manhattan parks.

Expressive matter vendors would compete for just 18 spots in Union Square, 9 in Battery Park, 5 in Central Park South and 5 on the High Line.

“So severe a reduction in the number of expressive opportunities will be treated with considerable skepticism by the vendors and by a fair-minded public.

“To overcome such skepticism, the Parks Department will need to come forward with powerful evidence and persuasive data to demonstrate the  reasonableness of this measure. It has not done so, to date,” said Eisenberg in the letter.

Street artists strongly oppose the Parks Department proposal and believe it violates their First Amendment rights.

As a result of successful lawsuits, vendors can legally sell expressive materials– including paintings, drawings, photographs, sculpture, books and writings– in New York City’s public parks and streets without obtaining vending permits.

“The Parks Department should make every effort to accommodate our city’s artists, poets and authors. It must withdraw its proposal until
it can publicly demonstrate it is meeting its First Amendment obligations,” said Eisenberg in a press release accompanying the letter.

The NYCLU’s letter details three legal concerns with the Parks Department proposal.

First, the NYCLU claims that the Parks Department “has failed utterly” to provide data to the public that quantifies the number of expressive matter vendors and competing users at the desired sites.

Second, the NYCLU questions the fairness of allocating a limited number of spots on a “first come, first served” basis.

“Such a system presents the risk that a few vendors or their agents will muscle their way into the most desirable locations and will otherwise obtain more than their fair share of sites for more than their fair share of time.”

Third, the NYCLU urges the Parks Department to consider the differences between the affected parks—Union Square, Central Park, Battery Park, and the High Line—when allocating vendor locations.

“Union Square Park is different in style and aesthetic from the southern perimeter of Central Park. On the fringe of Greenwich Village, Union Square Park can tolerate a level of disorder and energy that might be undesirable on Fifty-Ninth Street.”

On Friday, hundreds of street artists protested at the site of the Parks Department’s public hearing on the proposed restrictions.

As of press time, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe has not announced whether he will enact the proposal, either as written or with changes.

The Parks Department has not issued a press release about the proposal or the public hearing.

Media coverage, background materials, videos of the ARTIST protest

* Robert Lederman’s written testimony submitted at the Parks Department hearing on 4/23/2010. Has numerous photos as evidence of the real Parks Department agenda of privatization and concessions replacing artists

* Video of ARTIST protest by Sasha Sazanov

* Video of Protest/hearing by Susan

* Videos by Ned Otter of protest/hearing

* Miriam West’s videos of protest/hearing

* EK Buckley’s photostream (lots of good photos of the protest and hearing)

* *MANY VIDEO CLIPS OF PROTEST AND the HEARING by MIRIAM WEST (There are numerous clips)

*** Updated Major Media coverage ***

* Daily News – Artists fight public hearing on vendor restrictions in parks with freedom of expression

* NY Times 4/24/2010 (go to site for photos)

* NBC News–91921924.html

(Has good video of the protest) Seeing Red: Artists Protest Changing Park Vendor Rules


OR see the FOX video it here:

*** NY1News (fixed broken link)

(Important: Watch video and listen to Mayor Bloomberg pretend that this issue is about hot dog vendors, not artists. They must be desperate to do that much spinning!)

* WPIX Channel 11 News NY,0,1765205.story

OR, see it here:

*Newsday – Hundreds protest NYC proposal to limit art vendors

* 1010WINS Radio News

* DNAinfo

(Excellent photo slideshow)

* CURBED Hundreds Protest Plan to Limit Vendors Selling Art in Parks Updated 2 hrs ago April 23, 2010

(Has good photos from the protest)  Artists Creatively Trash Bloomberg at Rally Against Park Rules

* NY Times

April 22, 2010
Trailblazer’s Take on Limiting Vendors (This is the article about the poet on whose behalf the Written Matter Exemption was created)

Hundreds of street artists protest Parks Department plan, attend public hearing
April 24, 2010 PMNY Destinations Examiner Leslie Koch

(This article has another photo slideshow with great individual photos of many artists you know and their signs)

Check out these amazing photos by artists of Park concessions in USP, Battery Park and Central Park

As a WORD doc

As a PDF

(Note: the 2 above are identical)

* Earlier Media Coverage of This Issue
NY Times April 16, 2010 – City Seeks to Limit the Flocks of Art Vendors at Popular Sites in Parks
Daily News Editorials – Figures of speech: New York Park’s Dept. must put public above peddlers
NBC News website City Set to Give Park Art the Brush Off

NY Post April 16, 2010 Featuring Park Commissioner Adrian Benepe explaining his fundraising efforts in Parks. Robert Lederman calls in and challenges him. Benepe repeats his claim that Lederman is, ”…just making things up,” about replacing artists with concessions then admits he is putting concessions, Holiday Markets etc in the exact same Parks where artists now sell. The first few minutes deals with the Central Park tennis court bubble issue. Commissioner Benepe has a really insulting way of describing all street artists in parks as commercial vendors of junk.

Give it a listen.

You can play the radio interview here: (a 30 second ad plays first)

Or download it here: At this page, click on “click here to start download.” Ignore any pop up ads.

Or read the many comments here: Concession Money for Parks: Adrian Benepe confronted by Robert Lederman-WNYC
NY Times City Room April 5, 2010 – Artists and Vendors Bristle at Proposed Limits in Parks

NY Times City Room April 9, 2010
In Fight for Art Vendors, a Look to the Past Proof that the Parks Department ran a 160 stand art concession on Central Park South where they now claim only 5 artists can sell due to “public safety” issues.

NY1 News–new-rules-for-street-art

NY Daily News

WBAI radio 3/26/2010 Click on this link:

OR this one (a 15 second commercial precedes it)

You can also download it as a Quicktime mov. file here:

A Walk in the Park website

Contact info:
Robert Lederman, president of ARTIST
201 896-1686
ARTIST group video history

Parks Commissioner, Adrian Benepe
212 360-1305
Alessandro Olivieri, Parks legal counsel
212 360-1313
Deputy Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey, Parks Enforcement
212 360-1381

Proposed new park rules:

Robert Lederman
201 896-1686

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