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Cambridge Street Musicians Must Now Acquire Licenses

By Leah M. Rosenfield

The Cambridge City Council voted Monday night in favor of a regulation requiring street performers to pay a $2 license fee if they want to play in the Square area.

Performers' status under previous regulations was extremely unclear, because they were not considered separately from other people who solicit money on the streets.

City Councilor David Clem said yesterday that until the new regulations--which went into effect immediately after the council's eight to one vote--passed, the police department dealt with street performers arbitrarily.

Clem said he favored the new regulations because street performers "are providing an exciting service" and because he believes "the license will serve as a protective device." The license fees will go toward additional police protection.

Walter L. Sullivan, Cambridge city councilor, said yesterday the new license fee will help to keep the performers under control. Hell, we can't have everyone's brother out there."

Supporters of the new regulation base their argument on a state statute that prohibits the city from allowing individuals to solicit or collect money unless they buy licenses.

The council's decision evoked mixed reactions from street performers yesterday.

An accordionist said yesterday the license will protect performers from the "hassle of policemen forcing them to move and relocate," but others argued that they should not have to pay the license fee because they perform a service to the city.

"We are sharing our joy and talent with the world," one guitarist said.

Other performers in the streets yesterday said they believe the $2 annual fee is too high, and said they may protest the council decision.

One male member of the Class of '76 said yesterday he will be happy to pay the fee because he makes more money as a guitarist in Harvard Square than he did when he worked for a computer company.

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