Confirmed victory

Don't let Indianapolis Mayor Ballard and the City-County Council ban music from our streets!


On December 9th the City-County Council will vote on passage of Prop 143.  This ordinance was misrepresented to the public and the language is problematic as it labels musicians, street performers and charities as 'panhandlers'.  Spearheading opposition to Prop 143 is The Indianapolis Acoustic Music Meetup (producers of Playing for Change Day Indianapolis and sole music producers for Art Squared).  We ask everyone who loves music and performance art to join us in petitioning Mayor Ballard and the City-County Council to send Prop 143 back to committee and to eliminate all language which would restrict street performance.

Letter to
Councilman JEFF MILLER
and 21 others
Councilman JOSE M EVANS
Councilman MONROE GRAY, JR.
Councilman WILL GOODEN
Councilwoman MAGGIE A. LEWIS
Mayor Mayor Greg Ballard
On December 9th the Indianapolis Marion County City-County Council will vote on passage of City-County Council Prop 143, portrayed to the public as a solution to what many perceive as a panhandling problem. While there may be a need to manage panhandling in our city, the language of Prop 143 goes far beyond that issue, and is very problematic. In an attempt to restrict panhandling, the proposal will do an injustice to musicians, performing artists, charity groups and others. I am writing today to express my opposition to the proposal, and to urge you to support returning it to committee, where it can be crafted so as not to infringe on the rights of performers and charities.

According to this proposal, certain places in town will be off limits. It seems to me arts organizations, street performers and musicians have as much right to downtown sidewalks and streets as anyone else. Does the City County Council really intend to declare that artists are less deserving to use the downtown, which we all pay taxes for, than other people? Is this not deliberate discrimination?

The language of the proposal defines musicians, street performers and charity organizations as “panhandlers.” Does the City County Council really believe Indianapolis’ performers are “panhandlers,” and thereby not entitled to free speech? The proposal declares music and performance to be of no monetary value. What reasonable person believes this? According to this language a now-famous subway-busking performance by Indianapolis native and internationally renowned violinist, Joshua Bell, was of “no monetary value.” Does our City County Council believe that to be true? Performers of all sorts, along with charities, will be gagged and left silent by this ordinance. All would have their rights restricted. Does the City County Council really want government officials silencing citizens on the street?

Prop 143 creates an exclusive prohibited zone around major public projects like Lucas Oil Stadium, yet we all will be paying for Lucas Oil Stadium for decades. Prop 143 clearly discriminates by placing a huge public investment off limits to a segment of the population specifically selected for unequal treatment. The ordinance contains a curfew which is very intrusive on individual rights. Street performers are among the most colorful additions to the evenings of 1st Fridays, yet Prop 143 paternalistically orders adults off the street early each 1st Friday. Does the City County Council believe it has the right to place a curfew on only certain citizens?

Our downtown, which everyone pays for, is off limits to performers and charities, while in other retail districts, Prop 143 prohibits performers at specified distances from so many places it effectively bans charities and performers. There is not a commercial/retail area anywhere in the city in which a fundraising charity or performer can be located without violating Prop 143. There are atm’s, banks, sidewalk cafes and crosswalks everywhere. Retail districts have public entrances every few feet, and parking pay stations located between crosswalks. If passed, Prop 143 will mean a street performer can only locate where there are no stores and no pedestrian traffic.

According to Prop 143, a musical duo is now defined as a group of panhandlers, and prohibited from appearing in our city anywhere. It is in clear violation of a person’s right to free association. This governmental overreach has been bundled in a proposal presented to the public as a panhandling ordinance, despite the fact most of the proposal prohibits and restricts free expression by our city’s performers. The only reasonable solution to the harmful governmental overreach of Prop 143 is to send it back to committee to be fixed. I strongly urge you to consider the unintended consequences of this proposal, and vote to send it back to committee. Please stop Prop 143 from becoming law in Indianapolis.

Indianapolis Acoustic Music Meetup started this petition with a single signature, and won with 1,517 supporters. Start a petition to change something you care about.