Artists camp outside City Hall for Jackson Square permits


Posted on February 11, 2014 at 11:14 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 11 at 11:21 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans artists were camped Tuesday night outside City Hall, braving both the rain and cold. They are hoping to secure a handful of coveted Jackson Square artists permits.

This year's permitting process has been criticized by some after the deadline was pushed back due to weather closures and alleged miscommunication from City officials.

"It's not exactly a palace. It's cold. There's actually water. It rained really hard in here. My sleeping bag is wet," said Maria Kramer, who was one of dozens of artists camped outside City Hall.

She has sold her artwork in Pirate's Alley for two years now, but hopes to snag a 2014 permit to set up shop in Jackson Square.

"There's a limited amount of spots on Jackson Square. Only a few are available each year when people don't renew. It's an opportunity for us to get more viewers and hopefully more income," said Kramer.

Only 200 permits are issued a year. Most are renewed by artists making what's left a hot commodity. This year the city confirms a total of 21 permits are available.

"They are our basic, meat and gravy," said Alexander Flores.

The artist has been waiting camped out for days. He, like others, is frustrated by the permit deadline being pushed back this year. Flores had a permit a few years ago but gave it up.

"We're the sort that would want to go through whatever needs to get done to get ourselves into Jackson Square as an artist with a permit," said Flores.

For these artists armed with blankets, tents and determination, their makeshift camp isn't just about their craft. They say it's about their basic economic survival.

"We want to be recognized as a viable, economic opportunity for New Orleans and get that respect from City Hall," said Kramer. The New Orleans Bureau of Revenue will start accepting artist applications at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning on a first-come, first-serve basis.