City Council considers nixing permits for acoustic performances


By Globe Staff 

They say the show must go on, and it seems it will under a new City Council proposal.

City Council President Michelle Wu wants to preserve a pilot program that allows stores to host acoustic performances any day of the week without a permit — an effort to encourage entertainment and boost foot traffic in businesses. A hearing is slated for Friday.


The council approved the measure last year, following a short-term test in 2015, but the approval came with a one-year “sunset clause” that calls for the ordinance to be reexamined after a year. Wu told councilors at a recent hearing that there have been no complaints.

Under the law, storeowners could host up to five entertainers at one time, and artists can use a single microphone, though any performances must be acoustic. Performers could take the stage between the hours of 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. An establishment cannot serve food or drink unless it is already permitted to do so.

Wu said the ordinance simply removes the “red tape” for local stores that want to host performances, on Mondays as well as Saturdays, as long as those performances do not spoil the neighborhood. Previously, businesses would be required to apply for a live entertainment permit, a cumbersome process that includes a fee and a hearing at City Hall, for an event as low-key as a poetry slam with a microphone.

“We’re trying to celebrate and encourage our arts community; we’re trying to support small businesses,” she said recently.

Nicole Caravella, a spokeswoman for Mayor Martin J. Walsh, said in a statement that the mayor supports the measure and will work with the council, “with the aim to increase foot traffic to neighborhoods, bolster small businesses and further support the vibrant arts community in Boston.”

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