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Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS, La. -- French Quarter Festival isn't just drawing throngs of music lovers this year, artists are flocking to Jackson Square hoping to cash-in on the crowds.

However, some artists say despite paying for permits, the City of New Orleans isn't holding up its end of the bargain.

'It is very chaotic and it does make it dangerous because we have to come out earlier and earlier and stay here with our stuff,' said artist Holly Sarre.

When the sun sets, Jackson Square artists aren't willing to budge, for fear of losing prime real estate, because year after year events like French Quarter Festival, are the real money-makers.

For 14 years now, Sarre has displayed artwork in the Square. She says lack of police presence overnight and too many permits being issued by the City is creating a free-for-all. Sarre adds the City isn't enforcing its own rules.

'Maybe if there were less licenses we could come out at a reasonable hour like after the sun comes up,' said Sarre.

Every year the City of New Orleans issues 200 permits to artists, and they are only about 88 spaces available in Jackson Square, making finding one extremely competitive.

'There are a lot of artists out here. We need to be respected for what we do. We're a vital part of the Square,' said artist Kenneth Cook.

He first set up his artwork at the Square back in 1972 when displays were more about 'original works of art'. Cook says mass prints are now fueling a wave of bargain hunters. Coupled with too many artists and not enough space, Cook says it's getting hard to make a living.

'Too many permits for the number of spaces. We have battles on the weekend for space. People coming up two, three in the morning,' said Cook.

'I don't see hostilities. I see tidiness. I don't see tents. I don't see what I saw two years ago,' said artist Elaine Adel Cummins.

Eyewitness News interviewed Cummins two years ago, upset by the permitting process and tents being erected by artists in the Square.

Now the New Orleans artist says things have actually improved, though she and others are still having to stake out spots at the Square before sunrise.

'For the same reasons the tents went up two days ago in Jackson Square; its prudent to get in position so there isn't a lot of traffic menace in the morning and evening,' said Cummins.

A spokesman for the Landrieu Administration says New Orleans Bureau of Revenue field agents, NOPD officers and the French Market Corporation will be monitoring artist activity and performing inspections in Jackson Square through the duration of French Quarter Festival.

The City says staying overnight in the Square is strictly prohibited, although artists can start setting up as early as 5:00 a.m.

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