Prague is cracking down on people dressing up in giant panda and other costumes in the city center while placing more restrictions on other street performers in an effort to preserve the city’s historic atmosphere.
A new rule that took effect in October bans giant costumes, bubble makers and “living statues” and limits where musicians and other buskers can perform to raise money from tourists in popular sites such as the Old Town Square.
A previous attempt at grappling with the increase of street performers in 2016 primarily targeted’ noise complaints while the updated rules focus on keeping the historic feel of the centre where where performers had plied their trades.
“It is prohibited to perform any kind of public street art act in a way that it could disrupt the aesthetic look of the city, particularly performances in costumes of animals, movie characters, TV shows or computer games characters, and any act in costumes of a larger size than an adult is not allowed,” according to the new rules approved in September.
City officials also restricted when buskers can perform at certain locations such as playgrounds, areas around churches and other religious sites, schools, hospitals, public transport stops. They also included a number of squares around the city such as Letenske Square and I.P. Pavlova Square.
Street performers opposed to the restrictions say it is much easier to perform in other countries and that tourists often enjoy the music, juggling and other street art.
“Prague has already been very strict and unwelcoming to street performers before, it is difficult to find a good location” said Emilse, a member of “Estupida Compania”, a group of street performing artists from Argentina that visited Prague in August 2019.
“It is much easier to perform in Italy or Spain.”
The new rules mainly targeted the people wearing giant costumes or bubble makers who officials argued brought no cultural value to their performances.
While banning those performers, the new rules also allow musicians to play some instruments — such as saxophones — without mutes but bans bagpipes because they are too loud.
The new rules are posted in Czech on the official Web site of Prague 1, which can make it confusing for many of the street performers who do not speak the local language.
The clampdown in Prague has sent many of the giant costume wearing performers to other popular tourist cities such as Cesky Krumlov, a UNESCO World Heritage site located 160 km from Prague, according to lidovky.cz
But officials there say the Pandas and other street performers may not be dancing for long on the historic streets as the city is expected to soon follow Prague’s lead and issue its own ban.
“Besides taking pictures with tourists [the Pandas] do not produce any art, sometimes they demand to be paid. It has nothing to do with street performance,” the city’s mayor Dalibor Carda told lidovky.cz
By Kristyna Jandova