Reader Question: Busking at the Saturday Market


If you have any questions about your rights as a street musician, run into problems while busking or anything related to the city of Portland and music, please contact us! We’d love to hear from you and post your comments and questions online!

Matt writes: “I am curious about the Saturday market. What are the busking rules for there? Is there a permit system or something similar?  I would like to busk there with my guitar and  harmonica, but am not sure of the situation.”

We have all been to the Saturday Market at one time or the other, even if it is just to shake our head and hurry by to avoid the throngs of people, and the smell of elephant ears and hot dogs invading our nostrils. We have seen the regular buskers there. The ones that have been there for veritable years. This morning, I did a little research into the inner workings of the Saturday Market, contacting the administrative office directly.

The staff member I spoke with said simply; “The street musicians are under the City’s jurisdiction.” Saturday Market does not regulate any busking. However, this is where the loophole of the Street Musician Partnership Agreement kicks in again. The Saturday Market recently moved to their new location, which puts them on Tom McCall Waterfront Park, thereby putting them under the jurisdiction of Portland Parks & Rec. There is currently no busking allowed on Tom McCall Waterfront Park because the Portland Downtown Business Alliance refuses to issue the permits that the Partnership Agreement holds them to.

It is unclear if the Portland Police Bureau and the PPR Security will ask you to leave if you are within in the confines of the market, but the official word is that if you are on the park property, you can play, but can not be soliciting funds.

If you are going to busk down at the Saturday Market, please remember that they do have amplified stage music there, and that it can be quite noisy. Suggestions include being close enough to foot traffic, but far enough so that you can still be heard, with considerations of the Parks & Rec Department’s solicitation restrictions on Waterfront Park.


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