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West Chester Outlaws Singing, Dancing and Pantomime

WEST CHESTER, PENNSYLVANIA — The West Chester Borough Council illegally enacted an unconstitutional law that restricts:
acting, singing, playing musical instruments, pantomime, juggling, magic, dancing, reading, puppetry, sidewalk art, and reciting.

In July, September and August of 2016, Borough Council held public hearings to discuss a proposed busking ordinance.

After much discussion and debate, the Borough’s legal council stated many changes had been made, including:

  • The removal of sidewalk chalk, reading and pantomime from the list of restricted activities
  • Busking would only apply to performers soliciting money
  • The ordinance would not apply to private property

However, the new ordinance was not advertised and was incorporated into Borough Code without incorporating the voted upon changes.
Read the West Chester Busking Ordinance (pdf)

The ordinance completely bans performance art without a permit. For instance, if you allow a 5-year-old to color with chalk on the sidewalk without a license, you both will be breaking the law. If you obtain a license to perform music and kids start dancing, they will be breaking the law. If you write music without a license and kids start dancing, you all will be breaking the law. Should you and your friends attend a peace rally or sporting event and sing the “Star Spangled Banner”, you will be breaking the law. You are not allowed to read the busking ordinance without a permit.

Many performances are even banned if you have a permit. Under no circumstances can you read within a 100 feet of a library. Choirs are banned from singing within 100 feet of a church. No pantomime or magic is allowed near a hospital.

Two businesses (Penn’s Table Restaurant and Malena’s Vintage Boutique) along with the West Chester Business Improvement District (BID) appear to be behind the illegal passing of the unconstitutional law. Concerned citizens are boycotting these establishments.

On March 27, 2017, Borough Manager Michael Cotter stated, “The correct version is in the process of being posted.”

Related Articles:
West Chester Borough Busking Ordinance
Saturday, July 9th, 2016

West Chester Busking Ordinance Borough Council
Saturday, July 16th, 2016

West Chester Borough Petition Against Busking Ordinance
Saturday, July 16th, 2016

West Chester Busking Public Hearing
Monday, July 25th, 2016

West Chester Busking Ordinance
Monday, September 19th, 2016

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