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Expansion sought for 'Acoustic on Main' to help boost main streets districts

December 1, 2016

City Council

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City Council

The proposal from Mayor Martin J. Walsh and City Council president Michelle Wu also aims to showcase local talent.

BOSTON - Mayor Martin J. Walsh and City Council President Michelle Wu today announced a proposal to expand the successful "Acoustic on Main" pilot program to allow small businesses in designated business districts to host acoustic performers without obtaining a live entertainment license from the City of Boston. Filed by President Wu, the ordinance aims to increase foot traffic to neighborhoods, bolster small businesses and further support the vibrant arts community in Boston.

"Promoting our talented artists while bolstering our small businesses here in Boston is a win-win," said Mayor Walsh. "With performances in bakeries and restaurants, local shops and nonprofits, the best of Boston is showcased when artists and local businesses come together in our communities. The City is taking steps today to create more opportunities for residents and visitors to support and enjoy Boston's thriving neighborhoods."

"This ordinance empowers Boston's small business owners to enliven our business districts and showcase our arts and culture talent," said President Wu. "By eliminating red tape for acoustic performances in our small businesses, we hope to give neighborhood retailers another tool to entice customers to shop local."

The proposed ordinance would go into effect on January 1, 2017 and requires businesses to be registered and licensed, limits performances to the hours of 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., only allows for one microphone to be used and no more than five acoustic performers or musicians at a single venue at one time. Small businesses located in residential districts would still be required to obtain a live entertainment license when hosting acoustic performers.

"With the positive experience we had from the pilot last year, I am excited to hear about this extension," said Tom Devlin of Devlin's Restaurant in Brighton. "There was no downside to it at all. It brought a sense of vibrancy to places and more opportunities for residents to chill out and enjoy talented musicians. It's a nice break from the every day."

"This extended program is an exciting opportunity for our young musicians. By providing a low risk way for businesses to hire entertainment, we are encouraging them, and their customers, to become champions for our up-and-coming talent," said J. Curtis Warner Jr., Associate Vice President of Community & Government Relations at Berklee College of Music. "Working together in this way can really highlight Boston's strong music scene and business community."

"Acoustic on Main" was originally launched as a one-time event to highlight National Small Business Week and to help support small businesses after a challenging winter in 2015. Overall, the City has hosted three "Acoustic on Main" events, which led to approximately 150 participating businesses, 250 registered musicians and hundreds of performances in neighborhoods across Boston.