Leaders in Conway hope to bring touch of culture downtown with street performers

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Leaders in Conway say they're paving the way in the Grand Strand in hopes to bring a new touch of culture to the downtown area. The city will now allow people called "buskers" to perform. Busking is also known as a person who performs in public areas, accepts donations from the public, and has obtained a permit pursuant to the ordinance. In simple terms, they are street performers.

Right now, there are six locations throughout Downtown Conway that will allow street performers: Kingston Park, the vacant City property at the corner of Laurel and 2nd Avenue (former City Police Department site), the Garden Walk between Scarborough Alley and 3rd Avenue, the large section of the Riverwalk in front of the Lower River Warehouse, the stage at Riverfront Park, and the Robert Mills Garden.

With this new ordinance, also comes with a whole set of rules and fees. Right now, the permit costs $15 a year for a solo performer or a group of up to three.  They can only perform from the hours of 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., and can't play for more than 90 minutes in one location.  They also aren't allowed to perform within 50 feet of one another.

"Our ordinance was modeled after a couple cities that have gone through downtown revitalization efforts like Wilmington, Asheville and Greenville... and so we were looking at them. We saw it worked well for them and we're hoping it will work well for us as well," said Taylor Newell, City of Conway spokesperson.

The City said the Downtown Conway Alive organization presented this idea to council to go along with the cultural feel and the city's revitalization project.
So far, they said they have heard nothing but good things about this ordinance so far.

"Council wants more people out and about in downtown Conway. We really believe that having buskers or street performers out on the corners will help to give that cultural feeling that we want in downtown Conway. So that's kind of the goal. We have had a couple of musicians say that they are interested," said Newell.

Conway leaders also said they have talked with Coastal Carolina University's cultural arts department in hopes to have some of their musicians take advantage of this new opportunity.

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