If you’ve taken a stroll through central Prague streets surrounding Old Town and Wenceslas Squares in recent years, you’ve probably come across buskers in giant inflatable suits representing polar bears, teddy bears, and panda bears.
The bears have little to do with Prague or the Czech Republic – despite the country’s recent attempts to acquire an actual polar bear – but have become city central mainstays that happily take pictures with crowds of tourists in front of Prague landmarks… in exchange for a little pocket cash, of course.
The busking inflatable bears, however, may soon become an endangered species.
While the bears weren’t an issue for the city’s previous representatives, new Prague 1 officials have them in their crosshairs. A new amendment to Prague 1’s busking decree, which regulates the types of acts that can be performed on the city’s streets, is currently being discussed, reports iDnes.cz.
It’s purpose is to better define what types of performances fall under the decree. The current busking laws prevent loud performances, such as those using amplifiers or instruments like bagpipes, and the new amendment would limit acts to those with artistic merit.
“The decree should be changed so that busking is really something that is at least a little artistic, not a stupid attraction that only pollutes the public space,” comments Prague 1 Mayor Pavel Čižinský.
Of course, defining what is and isn’t art can be subjective, which Čižinský concedes – – though the Mayor doesn’t forecast that it will prevent the city from adopting a new amendment.
“It will not be easy to define clearly what is and is not art, but I do not doubt that it will happen,” he said.
The push for a new buisking amendment has support with other Prague officials.
“Bears standing in Old Town Square and Na Příkopě street are collecting money, but they do not represent any artistic endeavor,” according to Hana Třeštíková, Prague’s Councilor for Culture.
The bears are among a few street artists that have questionable merit. Other examples are “magically” floating genies, non-moving statues, and that annoying baby in a pram.
If passed, Prague’s new busking amendment should theoretically prohibit these types of performances, as well.
Prague officials aren’t the only ones who have taken umbrage with these types of acts. Fellow buskers have also raised objections.
“Busking is not a substitute for begging, and at the same time it should respect the surroundings,” Jan Gregar, director of the Prague Busking Festival, told iDnes.cz.
“The relationship with residents, and the fact that people work and live in the locality, should be considered by every artist who goes into a public space.”