Street Performers

Street performers of Cambridge.

Covid-19 update

Dear Cambridge Street Performer Participants & Partners,

The Cambridge Street Performer Program has been temporarily suspended since April 30, 2020 in light of the social distancing requirements designed to prevent the community spread of COVID-19. That suspension remains in place for the time being, though we hope to be able to restart the program in the near future. The City's policy on issuing permits is being evaluated on a weekly basis and aligns with the decisions made by the MA Governor's office around reopening phases. When we are able to safely meet and gather again, we will be able to issue permits to all interested performers and enjoy your creative expression in our public spaces throughout the city. We will update the Street Performer email list when we are able to restart the Street Performer Program.

in the meantime, if you are in need of assistance, please check out the City of Cambridge and Cambridge Arts resources information posted to the City’s website, which is updated on a daily basis with new opportunities for aid:

If you need help navigating any of these resources or accessing information, please get in touch with us directly at 617/349-4380 or In the meantime, we hope that you are staying safe and healthy during this very challenging time.

Best wishes,

Jason Weeks

Executive Director
Cambridge Arts

Updated July 9, 2020; Program remains suspended due to coronavius pandemic as of March 2021

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.

Cambridge Arts is thrilled to announce changes to the City of Cambridge’s Street Performance Ordinance (review a pdf of the ordinance here). Beginning January 2019, there will no longer be a fee to obtain a permit to be a Street Performer in Cambridge. Additional changes include the expansion of allowable spaces to perform, inclusion of performative visual arts as an option, and the possibility of rotating, dedicated performance areas for larger performances.

New FREE permits for 2019 will be available as of January 2, 2019.

Getting A Permit

Performers interested in obtaining a permit should visit the Cambridge Arts office at 344 Broadway, second floor, Cambridge, during normal business hours to complete an application. Individual performers as well as those playing in groups must obtain permits. It takes about 5 minutes and you walk out with a permit in hand.

No auditions required. All are welcome and encouraged to apply. We look forward to serving you and having your creativity enliven public spaces of Cambridge.

Download the Street Performer Application

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, please contact the After-Hours Street Performer Program Hotline or 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.