The other day we received an email from a man whose wife tried to sell her artwork in Brooklyn Bridge Park during the DUMBO Arts Festival. Upon arriving they were met by Park President Regina Myer, who told them they did not have the proper vendor permits and therefore had to move; the resulting confrontation was posted on the couple’s site:
[Artist E.K.] Buckley presented her certificate of authority to collect sales tax and explained her right to sell expressive matter in the park to Myer, thinking this would clear it up. Myer was not interested, and told Buckley that her rights didn’t apply in this particular park. I started taking video.
The video and BBP’s statement after the jump.
We contacted BBP, and Ellen Ryan, VP of Strategic Partnerships, emailed me their statement.
Brooklyn Bridge Park operates under a set of rules and regulations that were recently adopted by its board of directors on September 22nd. These rules are adapted from NYC Department of Parks & Recreation and also include provisions in place at the Hudson River Park, specifically those that concern waterfront use. Brooklyn Bridge Park rules include all NYC Department of Parks and Recreation Rules.
Brooklyn Bridge Park rules, posted on the park’s website in their entirety, have the following provisions as they relate to sale of commercial vending:
7B. Unlawful Vending: It is illegal for any person to sell, offer for sale, hire, lease or let anything whatsoever within the park, except under and within the terms of a Permit for such activity issued by BBPC.
On Saturday, September 25, two artists set up a table and display to sell artwork at Pier 1. Citing Brooklyn Bridge Park rules, the artists were asked to dismantle their display. Further consultation with Parks Enforcement Patrol clarified the overriding rules on the sale of expressive matter, which is protected by the Constitution’s First Amendment. In accordance with new NYC Department of Parks & Recreation rules (see below), the artists were then asked to relocate their display away from the main entryway of Pier 1 and the adjacent park furnishings to ensure reasonable entry and enjoyment by all park visitors. The vendors complied and made work available for sale for the remaining part of the day.
As of July 19, 2010 new rules were issued by the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation concerning the sale of “expressive matter,” including art, photography, reading material and sculpture in City parks. Brooklyn Bridge Park will comply with these new rules. It is the intent of Brooklyn Bridge Park to create and maintain a democratic public space in which the fully protected rights of expression of the individual are balanced with the park’s mission to provide a welcome respite for all park visitors.
So what do you think? Was BBP unduly harsh? Does “free speech” still come into play when it comes to selling rather than just displaying artwork? Or was this a large misunderstanding about sales tax certificates vs. park permits? Comment below.