Wednesday, May 3, 2006

A Short History of Street Performing in Santa Cruz

The History of Street Performing in America

Santa Cruz, California, 1978-on

Adapted from article by Stephen Baird

Tom Noddy sent me these emails and documents about his recent civil disobedience act of being arrested for juggling on the streets of Santa Cruz on June 26, 2003. Please read all the documents for complete understanding of the issues. The short outline is:

  • 1978-1980, 1990 -- Tom Noddy, Jan Luby and others organize Santa Cruz street artists and develope Voluntary Guidelines. Guidelines revised after 1989 earthquake. See: Santa Cruz Street Performance Voluntary Guidelines

  • 1978 -- Tom Scibner, a IWW labor organizer and saw player street performer, has sculpture commissioned and erected on the streets of Santa Cruz. See:

  • July, 24, 2002 -- City Council passes new regulations. City Attorney states at the meeting the regulations will not ban juggling. See City Codes below click here

  • 2003 -- City threatens to arrest jugglers and other perfomers. Tom Noddy begins letter writing campaign. The city attorney reverses opinion and now states new regulations bans juggling.

  • June 26, 2003, Tom Noddy is arrested for juggling and spends 13 hours in jail. Click here.

  • June 27, 2003, Tom Noddy writes Flying Karamazov Brothers and other artists who started on the streets of Santa Cruz and begins plans for a protest and benefit concert for protracted legal battle scheduled for September 5th and 6th. Click here

  • July 9, 2003 City Council pass Emergency Resolution clarifying juggling is legal. Click here.

  • There are other restrictions in the new regulations including a 10 foot rule and 1 hour rotation that make it difficult for street artists.

  • October 2004 -- Street Performer Weekly Gig with SAFE. SAFE (Society for Artistic Freedom and Expression) will have regular weekly Sing Outs on the Sidewalk in front of New Leaf Market 6pm every Wednesday evening. SAFE calls for the restoration of the Voluntary Street Performers Guidelines and the end to onerous restrictions on peformers downtown. One local Downtown Ordinance dictates the 10' forbidden zones limiting performers to less than 20% of downtown sidewalks. Another literally excludes them from narrower sidewalks in other business districts. Another is the "Move Along Law" which mandates criminal penalties for not "moving along" every hour. Contact: Joe Williams 866-385-9120 resist (at)


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