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Music plan proposed to keep street arts alive in Santa Barbara during COVID-19 rules

Street musicians
John Palminteri
Some street musicians and members of the arts community are proposing a plan to keep entertainment alive during the tight COVID 19 rules against live performances. (Photo: John Palminteri)
Street musicians
John Palminteri
Some street musicians and members of the arts community are proposing a plan to keep entertainment alive during the tight COVID 19 rules against live performances. (Photo: John Palminteri)
Street musicians
John Palminteri
Some street musicians and members of the arts community are proposing a plan to keep entertainment alive during the tight COVID 19 rules against live performances. (Photo: John Palminteri)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Musicians in Santa Barbara are trying to get a break during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to closures and limited number of people allowed indoors, musicians in Santa Barbara are struggling to make a living during the pandemic.

These "there's nothing else available" musicians, who are on the streets performing, have asked for a meeting with the City of Santa Barbara to talk about loosening up rules on outside live performances.

The ban is part of the County of Santa Barbara Health Order during the coronavirus.

Musician and Realtor Steve Epstein is one of the organizers.

He sees how vital the work is for performers. For some it's their income.

"Most of the guys I play with count on that money to supplement their income or it is their income. If they're not sneaking around doing off the grid private events they are really out of luck," said Epstein.

He suggests a local plan than follows models used in Boulder, Colorado and Santa Monica on the Third Street Promenade.

It would include components such as:

  • A modest city permitting fee for approved acts.
  • A warning/fine structure for performers who do not adhere to the published policies.
  • A limited sound level/DB that Ambassadors could monitor.
  • Performer/performance/anti-crowd congregation protocols, as approved by County Health officials.
  • Virtual audition of all acts/performers/street artists/for quality and their commitment to the cultural experience they want to create.

"Restaurants have brought food and water and stools out to musicians and they been great. Natural Cafe, Joe's Cafe- those guys have all been super supportive," said Epstein.

Many of the musicians have had little or no work during the pandemic. Most lost financially significant work during festivals and the wedding season.

"They need and want to play.  It is a cultural thing.  If you are a musician that's baked into you," said Epstein.

A variety of performances would be considered if the plan clears the early hurdles.

Many members of the arts community have joined in to help craft the plan and will be meeting later this month to discuss the implementation.

Recent coverage : Street musicians Amped up over health order

Coronavirus / Entertainment / Events / Health / Local Politics / Safety / Santa Barbara- S County

John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3 and KCOY 12 Central Coast News.