A national placemaking project that advocates for public performance as a means to enliven city streets and to keep them safe. Endorsed by City of Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, and by former City of Pittsburgh Councilman Dan Gilman and current Councilman Corey O'Conor, the effort deploys street performance activity through various Pittsburgh communities. We also launched Street Stages thanks to Awesome Pittsburgh. The stages are stamps that are installed on the ground, around Pittsburgh to indicate where street performers can play in a safe environment . Busking, or street performing, is a centuries-old tradition of entertainers performing for tips in public areas.

Buskers attract the public into an area and encourage them to browse from performer to store to restaurant and back to performer. This creates a mutually beneficial commercial environment for the stores, performers and the public. Public performance enlivens city streets, makes urban areas safer because of the activity, and provides an alternative venue to those who traditionally perform indoors. As a way to encourage street performance in Pittsburgh, Busk Street Stages created a safe outdoor area in which diverse performers have the freedom to perform on city streets legally. The first stage was installed at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Squirrel Hill.

Awesome Pittsburgh trustee Pete Maher said, “Awesome Pittsburgh is proud to support Busk Street Stage and its efforts to preserve the centuries-old tradition of street performance. Buskers play an important role in vitalizing the streets of Pittsburgh, and we hope that our grant will help support local performers, provide a meaningful source of public entertainment, and draw audiences to local business districts.”

Busker Street Union also worked with the Millvale Borough to craft an ordinance to make street performance legal in their community. This historic legislation provides some transparency and clarity for street performers to play in a safe environment and provides residents some acceptance knowing the local government endorsed such an effort. This is the first ordinance of its kind to endorse public performance in any city, municipality or borough in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Mayor Peduto interprets street performance as protected under the First Amendment. Additional Street Stages are planned for Squirrel Hill, Downtown, Bloomfield, and in Millvale to accompany their legislation.

More than 500 performers from around the world use Busker Street Union as an avenue to get connected to communities in our region. Busker Street Union representatives have consulted on numerous street performance efforts all over the world and a sister Union is planned in Seattle, WA. Project Website: buskerstreet.org Project Impact: The communities that host a Street Stage have reactivated empty streets with lively performance and activity. The streets are safe because of the activity. The program also provides a safe venue and platform for artists to express themselves. The legislation is rare and one-of-a-kind ordinance that may set the precedence for other communities to adopt and embrace street performance.