Street Performers

Snow, Living Statue, performs on Massachusetts Avenue during the 2019 Cambridge Arts River Festival.

Getting A Permit

Performers interested in obtaining a free permit to perform in public in the City of Cambridge should turn in a completed Street Performer Application (link below)

• at the reception desk at the Cambridge City Hall Annex at 344 Broadway, Cambridge, 02139, (preferred for covid safety) or
• at Cambridge Arts' office on the second floor during normal business hours or
• by mailing the completed form and a reproduction of a current photo ID to that address or
• by emailing the completed form and a reproduction of a current photo ID to

The permit is free. Individual performers as well as those playing in groups must obtain permits.

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 performers of Cambridge.

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.

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

Peter Paradoxx juggles during the 2019 Cambridge Arts River Festival.