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for, by, and about street theatre performers in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
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You want to perform on the streets of Amsterdam?

In this section you can read what we think you need to know if you want to perform your street theatre show in Amsterdam yourself; the legal stuff, as well as the practical stuff.

STREET MUSICIANS:
Everything in this section is meant for street theatre performers with a socalled circle show. Legally and practically things are different for busking musicians, so check out this page.

NON-EU PERFORMERS:
To us performers, we are all equal. But legally, things are not the same for European and non-European performers. However, non-EU performers can perform in Amsterdam. Read on.

This page has three sections you can jump to:
License-free performing
License-free performing using voice amplification
Licensed performing

 

License-free performing

Since the change of the Amsterdam by-law, one does NOT need a license to perform street theatre in the streets of Amsterdam. This is regardless whether the performer is a EU citizen or not; anybody can perform freely.

However, this is the basic situation, appying only to a very basic show. Without a license, you may perform
A maximum of one show per day on the same spot,
A maximum of 30 minutes for that show,
You may NOT use any kind of percussion instruments or amplification (except for voice amplification, see below),
You may not use any dangerous props, like fire torches, machetes, chainsaws, etc.,
You may not perform in the evening after 23.00.

 

License-free performing using voice amplification

Formally, any kind of amplification is not allowed without a license. However, after the try-out during 2008 and 2009, some amplification is allowed also without a license, within certain boundaries. This is done through a socalled 'gedoogbrief' (letter of allowance) of the Mayor.

The restrictions are:
Only amplification of the performer's voice is allowed; music or singing remains forbidden,
The sound level does not exceed 74 dB(A) at 8 meter from the speaker,
The sound level should not exceed the surrounding noise on the spot,
Amplification is allowed only as long as this is part of a street theatre performance,
Allowance only applies to the center of Amsterdam, except what is marked purple on the map with forbidden streets (PDF, 1.9MB).

The police and the socalled 'Handhaving' should know about this and cause no trouble. However, in reality trouble still occurs now and then. So, performers without a license who want to use voice amplification are advised to carry a printout of this 'gedoogbrief' when performing.

This 'gedoogbrief' can be downloaded here (PDF, 492 kB). The file should open in a new separate window or tab - if not, go back with the browser's back-button to return to this site.

NOTE: It took two years of try-out before the policy was prolonged for undefined time. Apparently there were some complaints in 2008 and also in 2009 the partial city council had doubts and reluctancies. Nevertheless, the 'gedoogbrief' has been extended for undefined time anyway.

But: "undefined time" does not automatically mean "forever". The allowance can be withdrawn at any time. Just like before, all performers are strongly requested to avoid ANY complaints. If there are no complaints, there is no reason for the city council to withdraw the 'gedoogbrief' policy.

Let's all be professional!

 

Licensed performing

Nowadays, most performers need some kind of socalled 'special allowances', like using fire torches, juggling machetes, etc.. Also, circle shows typically need more time per show and since those circle shows can be performed only on the two main spots in town, you might want the possibility to perform twice per day on the same spot. For these situations one still needs a license.

Due to national laws, only a EU-performer can obtain such a license. With a EU-performer we mean anybody with a European Union passport, or with a residency or working permit.

In short, this is what you need:

EU passport or NL residency/work permit
Passport photograph
Maestro debet card (credit cards are NOT accepted)
Filled-out license application form (PDF, 68 kB).
Additional license motivation letter (on-line generator).

To obtain a license:

You will need to apply with an application form and an additional motivation letter. The best is to fill out both before you go and apply:
The application form:
   1. Fill out your name, date/place of birth, address, phone number and email address.
   2. At 'Soort straatartiest', check the checkbox 'Cirkelshowartiest'.
   3. At 'Toelichting', write 'Zie bijlage' (to refer to the additional letter).
   4. At 'Locatie', write 'Amsterdam Centrum'.
   5. At 'Van datum' write 'Geheel 2017' (or whatever year it is).
   6. At 'Ondertekening', sign the form and fill out once again your name and today's date.
   See the sample.
The additional motivation letter:
   1. Fill out the on-line form.
   2. Generate the letter and print it.
   3. Sign it.
Make a photocopy of both forms.
Get your EU passport or residency permit, a passport photograph, and a Maestro debet card to pay the appliction fee by 'PIN'. Note: unfortunately it is only possible to pay by 'PIN'. Cash and credit cards are NOT accepted. If you don't have such a bank card, ask a local friend or fellow performer to come with you to do the payment. The application fee is 111.45 (2016).
Go to the town hall, right next to the famous Waterloo Square flee market, on weekdays (Mon-Fri) between 8:00 and 18:00. Follow the signs to 'Stadsloket'. In this hall, go to the desk for appointments ('Afsprakenbalie') and mention you want to apply for a street performing license. They will give you a follow-up number for counter 30-31, which are at the back of the hall. This is where you actually apply for the license.
At the counter, mention you want to apply for a license for a street theatre circle show. Mention and show the additional motivation letter.
You can ask them to stamp and sign your photocopies as a proof of receipt.
You can get the license sent to you, or pick it up in person. From what we understood, it may be possible that the license is made on the spot and you can wait for it.

Further note this:

You may not just perform everywhere (with or without license). Leidseplein and Dam Square are no problem though. If you want to play other, smaller pitches around town, pick any spot which is NOT marked purple on the map with forbidden streets (PDF, 1.9MB).
Fire spitting or fire chain swinging is not allowed. If you use other fire sources, make sure the pavement is clean of any kind of fuel after the show.
For amplification the maximum sound level is 74dB(A) at 8 meters distance. Voice amplication can be used throughout the show.
You may not perform in the evening after 23.00.
Liability insurance is not mandatory. But, at all times, the performer remains liable for any damages he causes during the show, to inviduals or the environment. Guarantee the safety of your audience and participants at all times!

 

On the pitch

The shared pitches are further regulated by the performers themselves. Be social and professional, and things will be fine. If you want to perform on those pitches, look and ask around how things are done practically. Some of it we have written here.


 

 
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straattheater, amsterdam, street theater, holland, street performing, the netherlands, busking, performing, license, vergunning, permit, ontheffing, sas, show, straatartiesten, streettheater, street artist, mime, clown, juggler, magician, living statue, unicyclist, acrobat, straatartiest, jongleur, levend standbeeld, acrobaat, performance, fire