Apply for a busking permit

Chatswood Mall - Busking - Joseph Zarb web.jpg

Busking and street performances are an integral part of cultural and artistic expression within the Willoughby local government area. These guidelines aim to ensure a safe and enjoyable environment for performers, residents, and visitors. This permit is for students, adult buskers and large bands.

Permits are issued for 12 months for $48 or 3 months for $12 from date of payment.

Council may extend public liability coverage to non-professional, students and unincorporated buskers and performers who do not hold an ABN and are not professional performers.
Professional performers will need to supply their own public liability certificate of currency.

Steps to apply

  1. Read the busking guidelines and conditions

    Busking guidelines and conditions

    The following guidelines and conditions have been established to regulate busking activities within the Willoughby Local Government Area.

    These guidelines aim to provide a framework that ensures a safe and enjoyable environment for the community while supporting artistic expression. Buskers are required to comply with the following:

    Willoughby City Council regulates busking in accordance with Section 68, Part D of the NSW Local Government Act 1993 which identifies a range of activities that can be carried out on ‘community land’ with the prior approval of Council.

    1. Permits   

    a. All buskers must apply for a permit with Willoughby City Council (WCC) before commencing their performances.

    b. Permits are valid for a duration of 12 months.

    c. Buskers can use their permit as often as they wish during the 12-month period, provided they are not in breach of these guidelines and conditions.

    d. There will be no discount in fees for buskers applying for a single performance date.  

    e. The application form and supporting documentation must be received at least three weeks prior to the proposed commencement date.

    f. Buskers are required to provide personal identification and accurate contact details during the application process.

    g. Approvals and other correspondence will be issued via the email address provided in the application process.

    h. Permits will only be issued for performances in accordance with Appendix A – Permitted and non-permitted activities.

    i. Willoughby City Council has the right to refuse a busking permit on any grounds.

    j. Buskers must display their permit, issued by WCC, at all times during their performances. The permit must be produced upon the request of a Council Officer.

    k. Any organisation or group applying for a busking permit must nominate a permit holder. The permit holder must be onsite at all times during the performance.

    l. A group is generally limited to a maximum of five members. In special circumstances, groups with more than five members may be approved, subject to application.

    m. In the event of an unsuccessful application WCC may, at its discretion, provide feedback to assist future submissions.

    n. Buskers under the age of 16 require adult supervision and applications for permits need to be made by a parent or guardian.

    o. Fines may be issued and the permit may be suspended or revoked for any non-compliance with the conditions of approval.

    2. Performance locations

    a. Busking is permitted in any public space owned by Council within the Willoughby LGA with the exception of those locations in Appendix B –No-go’ zones.

    b. Buskers must ensure there is enough open space to conduct their performance, plus a further two metres for pedestrian flow on at least two sides of the performance space.

    c. Buskers must not obstruct pedestrian traffic, impede access to businesses or residences, or interfere with the flow of public transport.

    d. It is prohibited to perform within 100 metres of another busker without prior agreement.

    e. Busking at a Council-approved special event or festival location is not permitted unless by prior arrangement or invitation. Refer to our website for event dates and locations.

    3. Performance times and duration

    a. Performances must not exceed 2 hours in any one location.

    b. Busking is only permitted during specified hours:

    • 9am to 7pm - Sunday to Wednesday
    • 9am to 9pm - Thursday to Saturday
    • 9am to 9pm - on the eve of Public Holidays.

    4. Noise levels

    a. Buskers must be considerate with the volume of their performance. It is an expectation that all buskers will be willing to negotiate over volume levels to ensure minimal disturbance to residents and businesses.

    b. Buskers must ensure their performance cannot be heard from a maximum of 50 metres in either direction.

    c. Amplification must be used responsibly and must not exceed 75dB.

    d. Only battery powered amplification is permitted.

    5. Safety

    a. Buskers are responsible for ensuring the safety of their audience and passers-by during performances.

    b. Performances involving sharp objects or other dangerous instruments including knives, swords, chainsaws, fireworks, stock whips, fire, flammable liquids and other hazardous material or equipment that may create a hazard to public safety are strictly prohibited.

    c. Performers must not impede pedestrian or vehicular traffic flow while setting up, performing, or packing up their equipment.

    d. Equipment and props must be arranged in a manner that minimizes the risk of injury to performers, audience, and passers-by.

    6. Conduct and content

    a. Buskers must conduct themselves in a professional manner and treat the public, other performers, Council staff and other authorised officers with respect.

    b. Performances must be family-friendly and not contain offensive or inappropriate content, including but not limited to explicit language, discriminatory material, or explicit imagery.

    7. Financial transactions

    a. Buskers are permitted to accept voluntary contributions from the public during performances.

    b. Buskers may sell their own original music, video, artwork or merchandise but these sales must be secondary to the performance and cannot be made by someone else on the busker’s behalf.

    c. Engaging in aggressive or coercive tactics to solicit donations is strictly prohibited.

    d. Exchange of money or goods must not obstruct pedestrian movement or create safety hazards.

    8. Waste management and environment

    a. Buskers are responsible for maintaining cleanliness around their performance area.

    b. All waste generated during performances must be removed and properly disposed of offsite.

    c. Buskers are encouraged to use environmentally friendly materials and practices during their performances.

    d. Single use plastics and balloons are prohibited.

    9. Compliance with laws and regulations

    a. Buskers must adhere to all relevant laws, including those pertaining to public performance, copyright, and intellectual property rights.

    b. The OneMusic Council licence scheme covers any public performances of music as long as the street performers or buskers hold a permit with Council.

    10. Insurance 

    a. Professional buskers are required to provide evidence of current public liability insurance with a minimum cover of $10,000,000.

    b. Current public liability insurance must be maintained for the duration of the permit or whenever the busker is using their permit.

    c. The insurance policy must list Willoughby City Council an interested party.

    d. Council may extend public liability cover to non-professional, student and unincorporated buskers and performers who do not hold an ABN and are not professional performers.

    11. Monitoring and enforcement

    a. Willoughby City Council Officers reserve the right to monitor and enforce these guidelines and conditions.

    b. Non-compliance with these guidelines and conditions may result in warnings, fines, temporary suspension, or permanent cancellation of a busking permit.

    12. Complaints

    a. Complaints about a busking performance or busker will be assessed by WCC given the provisions in these guidelines and conditions.

    b. Reasons for any Council action will be provided to the busker. If there has been a complaint, the busker has the right to appeal any decision of Council such as revoking a busking permit or suspending a busker from performing.

    c. Appeals should be submitted as a complaint. These will be handled in line with Council’s complaints procedure. 

    13. Review and amendments

    a. These guidelines and conditions may be reviewed periodically and amended as necessary by Willoughby City Council.

    b. Buskers will be notified of any changes through the contact information provided during the permit application process.

    Appendix A - Permitted and non-permitted activities

    Permitted busking and performances

    • Performing with an instrument or multiple instruments.
    • Performing a song, dance routine, mime, clowning, juggling, puppetry, comedy, magic or a living statue act.
    • Actively working in an artistic medium including drawing any message, picture or representation on a pavement (non-permanent only, for example chalk art), paper or canvas surface.
    • Spoken art with intrinsic entertainment value which is not of a political or religious nature.

    Public activities not permitted

    • Vendors of any kind unless it is the busker’s own original material being sold as a supplement to the performance.
    • Handing out flyers or promoting a company, event or charity even if this involves an element of performance.
    • Touting or spruiking.
    • Political rallying.
    • Religious spruiking.
    • Tarot card reading, palmistry and fortune telling.
    • Massage, chiropractic treatment or any other physical manipulation.
    • Face or body painting.
    • Temporary tattoo applications.
    • Performances using an animal, reptile or bird.

    Appendix B – ‘No Go’ zones

    The following locations are designated ‘No-Go’ zones where busking is not permitted.

    • Within five (5) metres of any intersection, pedestrian crossing, traffic signal or public telephone booth unless otherwise designated.
    • Directly in front of entrances, exits or steps at train stations.
    • Parks, gardens and sporting ovals unless by special arrangement.
    • Outside accommodation hotels, motels and residential buildings (silent acts such as pavement artists or living statues will be considered on a case-by-case basis).
    • Outside, adjacent to, or on the grounds of places of worship, religious and memorial sites.
    • The Concourse upper podium, lower podium or grass area unless by special arrangement.
    • Chatswood Mall on Thursdays and Fridays during the Chatswood Mall Markets unless by special arrangement.
  2. Prepare your supporting information:
    • Audio file or video link of your performance.
    • Professionals - Evidence of current public liability insurance with a minimum cover of $10,000,000.
    • Proof of identity – for example, current drivers license or passport.
    • A recent close-up photograph clearly showing your face, passport style.
  3. Complete the application form.
  4. We will contact you via email within two weeks if your application has been successful.
  5. Register an account on Council’s eBooking system (remember your username and password). 
  6. You will receive an invoice via email. Login to your account on Council’s eBooking system and pay for your permit.
  7. Once paid, you will receive the digital permit via email.
  8. Start entertaining!
For large or professional bands that want to reserve a spot in Chatswood Mall or The Concourse, want access to power or busk longer than 2 hours, they must:
  1. Follow the steps to obtain a busking permit.
  2. Book a spot under 'Event space, flyers or promotion' via eBookings.

This reservation is reviewed by the Willoughby City Council events team and approved if available.

For further information contact the Willoughby Council Events Team