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Busking and Street Performance

Buskers bring excitement, vibrancy and cultural enrichment to Darwin for the benefit and enjoyment of residents, tourists, visitors and businesses alike.

City of Darwin encourages creativity and innovation in busking and street performing and welcomes the diverse cultural expression of a wide range of buskers and street performers from across the country and beyond to creatively contribute to our unique tropical city.

‘Busking’ and ‘Street Performing’ can mean performing music, dance, street theatre or art in a public space for the purpose of receiving contributions from members of the public. Buskers are not paid or hired directly for their performance but rely on passers-by appreciating their work and choosing to make a monetary contribution to the performer.

We all share the streets and public spaces of Darwin and people often have different ideas about how space should and can be used. City of Darwin’s busking guidelines aim to reduce the potential for conflict and support a community-minded culture. Because of this potential buskers need to secure approval through submitting an application form for a permit to the City of Darwin.

Permits costs start from as little as $5 and we will issue a maximum of 100 permits at any given time.

Busking and street performing can be done in all council owned public spaces and commercial areas including malls, footpaths and parks throughout Darwin (with some exceptions, including restricted areas in the Mall) between 9.00am - 10.00pm Sunday to Thursday and 9.00am - 12.00am (midnight) Friday and Saturday.

2018 pilot busking guidelines

From October 2018 we are trialling new busking guidelines. These guidelines will be reviewed annually with progress monitored throughout the year. In late 2019 a stakeholder meeting of interested parties will be held to review the effectiveness and implementation of the busking guidelines and operations.

Adjustments and amendments will be made in 2019 but you are welcome to send your thoughts and suggestions to arts@darwin.nt.gov.au at any time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is busking or street performing?

‘Busking’ and ‘Street Performing’ can mean performing music, dance, street theatre or art in a public space for the purpose of receiving contributions from members of the public. Buskers are not paid or hired directly for their performance but rely on passers-by appreciating their work and choosing to make a monetary contribution to the performer.

City of Darwin encourages creativity and innovation in busking and street performing. Some ideas for busking are: human statues, poetry recitation, juggling, magic tricks, and chalk art.

How do I get permission to perform?

You will need to apply for approval from the City of Darwin to busk. Busking permits are issued subject to you agreeing to uphold the permit guidelines. Busking and street performing permits are issued at the Civic Centre on Harry Chan Avenue during business hours. When applying for approval you will need to provide:

If you are approved to busk you will be issued a permit.

What does a busking permit cost?

Busking and street performing permits are issued by the City of Darwin Customer Service Team for a fee, in accordance with City of Darwin’s Fees and Charges.

The charges are:

  • One Week Permit: $5
  • Four Month Permit: $20
  • One Year Permit: $30
When can I perform?

Permits are valid for the approved dates as written on your permit. You can busk on these days from 9.00am - 10.00pm Sunday to Thursday and 9.00am - 12.00am (midnight) Friday and Saturday.

Where can I perform?

Busking is permitted in all council owned public spaces and commercial areas including malls, footpaths and parks throughout Darwin. However, Buskers are not permitted to perform on or in the immediate area surrounding any war memorial including the Cenotaph in Bicentennial Park.

Buskers can perform in permitted areas provided they adhere to the City's busking guidelines as outlined on the Permit Application Form.

The Mall is a zoned area with designated busking locations and extra busking conditions apply. The Mall busking map outlines restricted areas in the mall and the Permit Application Form identifies extra busking conditions regarding amplification in Raintree Park.

Areas that are not governed by the City of Darwin Council are excluded these include Darwin Waterfront, Northern Territory Government land, Commonwealth land, neighbouring council’s land and private property. Contact the relevant authority for details about their busking policies.

Is there a limit to how many people can busk in Darwin?

City of Darwin will issue a maximum of 100 permits at any given time. These permits are divided as follows:

  • 20 x One Week Permits
  • 30 x Four Month Permits
  • 50 x One Year Permits
Why does there need to be guidelines?

We all share the streets and public spaces of Darwin and people often have different ideas about how space should and can be used. Between all the people that live, work, recreate and trade in the city there is the potential for conflict but any potential challenges can usually be dealt with if buskers, local businesses, council rangers and members of the public communicate constructively and take actions to compromise and cooperate. We know that most complaints about busking apply to a small number of performers and usually relate to noise levels, repetitive performances or obstruction. City of Darwin’s busking guidelines aim to reduce the potential for conflict and support a community culture where creativity on the street is enjoyable and celebrated broadly through encouraging mutual consideration and respect.

To support creative people in our community to thrive and be able to contribute their skills to the city through public performance we have created guidelines because we know that most complaints about busking only apply to a small number of performers and usually arise from misunderstandings related to noise levels, repetitive performances or obstruction of thoroughfares.

In most cases a formal complaint will not be needed and enforcement processes will only be required as a last resort if there are persistent issues.

What is unacceptable busking activity?
  • Excessively loud performances. Amplification is not permitted in any area except Raintree Park. The City of Darwin Customer Service Team must be notified on the day prior to performing.
  • Acts that involve animals.
  • Selling or offering for sale any articles, commodities or services with the exception of the busker’s own original CDs and DVDs.
  • Fundraising, events or promotions even if they involve any element of performance as listed previously. This includes advertising or spruiking for political, religious or for any other reason.
  • Vilification of any community members, including but not limited to racial, sexual, gender or disability discrimination.
  • Dangerous performances or performances using dangerous goods including but not limited to fire twirling, firecrackers, large props, knives, snakes etc. are currently prohibited.

Our staff will investigate each complaint received and take appropriate action. City of Darwin reserves the right to revoke or limit permits at any time if I fail to comply with these conditions.

These Busking Guidelines are supported by City of Darwin’s Arts Plan and Arts and Cultural Development Policy 007. They are consistent with strategy 4.2.1 Encourage the growth and development of the arts in the City of Darwin’s Evolving Darwin Towards 2020: Strategic Plan.

More Information

For more information on current opportunities contact the Arts and Cultural Development Coordinator

arts@darwin.nt.gov.au

Last modified 
12 Oct 2018

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