Street Performers

Street performers of Cambridge.

In accordance with the City of Cambridge Street Performer Ordinance, performer permits are issued by the Cambridge Arts Council located at 344 Broadway, 2nd floor.

The permit fee is $40.00 (cash only) and all permits remain active from the date of issue until the end of the current calendar year on December 31st. Cambridge Arts staff will work with individuals interested in securing a permit to determine whether or not the intended performance meets the definition for performance contained in the Ordinance and to provide advice on strategies for successful interactions with residents, local businesses and fellow performers.

Download the Street Performer Application

Getting A Permit

Performers that have received a non-criminal citation within the last year must settle any outstanding fines prior to applying for a new permit. All fines of this type should be paid in the City Clerk's office located in the Cambridge City Hall at 795 Massachusetts Avenue. Following payment, a receipt must be presented to CAC staff in order to apply for and obtain a new permit.

Performer permits issued: Mondays: 9 A.M. - 8 P.M.
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays: 9 A.M. - 5 P.M.
Friday: 9 A.M. - 12 P.M.

A performer does not have to be a Cambridge resident in order to obtain a performance permit.


Street Performer Monitors & Performer Complaint Procedure

On a seasonal basis, CAC hires street performance monitors to check permits, compliance with the ordinance and maintain a balance between the interests of the performers, businesspeople, and residents. In case of concerns regarding street performers, you may contact the Cambridge Arts Council at (617) 349-4380. If there is a disturbance after CAC office hours, contact the Cambridge City Police Department at 349-3300. Ask for the Dispatch Desk and report the problem.

Cambridge Arts: Street Performer Program Hotline - (617) 349-9475, where business owners and managers can provide:

  • Name
  • Contact Information
  • Location/Address of Performance
  • Nature of Concern/Complaint

History of Street Performance in Cambridge

Stephen H. Baird, Founder and Executive Director of the Street Arts & Busker Advocates, wrote "The History and Cultural Impact of Street Performing in America; Revival of Street Performances in Cambridge 1966-2003." Learn more about the history of Cambridge's street performing scene.

For more detail, you can view the Cambridge Street Performer Ordinance online or obtain a copy from the Office of the City Clerk.

Need a Map to help you get to our office? Click here.

Now Seeking Street Performer Monitors

The Cambridge Arts Council (Cambridge Arts) seeks applicants for three (3) part-time positions as Street Performer Monitors in the City of Cambridge. The Street Performer Monitor(s) will work under the direction of and report to the Director of Community Arts to carry out to the following:
  • Enforce the articles of the City of Cambridge Street Performer Ordinance (Ord. No. 1176) as outlined in the Sidewalk Use Ordinance (Chapter 12.16, Section 12.16.170)
  • Ensure that all performers active on public property have and display valid city-issued Performer Permits
  • Manage sound levels of performers through the use of a calibrated decibel reader and take care of said decibel reader while the equipment is in your possession
  • Respond to program-related complaints as necessary and at the request of the Director of Community Arts and Cambridge Arts staff
  • Submit weekly reports on performer/monitor activity to the Director of Community Arts
  • Act as the official liaison between the Cambridge Arts Council and performers, residents and members of the business community in matters pertaining to the Street Performer Program

For more information please see the official job posting listed on the City of Cambridge Job Board