July 2021: Cambridge Arts is excited to announce that we’re once again issuing permits for street performers as the City reopens from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Getting A Permit
Performers interested in obtaining a permit to perform in public should visit the Cambridge Arts office at 344 Broadway, second floor, Cambridge, during normal business hours to complete an application. The permit is free. 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. A performer does not have to be a Cambridge resident in order to obtain a performance permit. We look forward to serving you and having your creativity enliven public spaces of Cambridge.
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.
Performers who 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 Ave. Following payment, a receipt must be presented to Cambridge Arts staff in order to apply for and obtain a new 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:
- 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
Beginning January 2019, the fee to obtain a permit to be a Street Performer in Cambridge was eliminated. Additional changes at that time included 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..
Cambridge’s Street Performer program was suspended from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020 until July 2021 to prevent its spread.
City of Cambridge Street Performance Ordinance