Subject: home affairs, arts and cultural development

Street performance activities in Hong Kong

Street performance permit schemes in Taipei and Melbourne

Permit conditions


  • Regarding the enforcement of the street performance permit scheme, DOCA in Taipei has set up a dedicated task force to conduct inspections of street performance activities and handle complaints. DOCA has also implemented a penalty point system under which a street performer's permit will be revoked if he or she has repeatedly breached the permit conditions and accumulated a specific number of penalty points. The police and the management authorities of the designated locations will also be responsible for enforcing the relevant legislation and reporting any breaches of permit conditions or legislative provisions to DOCA.  
  • In Melbourne, self-regulation of busking activities is encouraged. Street performers are expected to work cooperatively, take responsibility for managing the performance spaces, and resolve disputes and complaints with local residents and/or businesses amicably. In case a complaint or a report of a breach of permit conditions/any requirements under the busking handbook is lodged with the local authority, the responsible enforcement officers will visit the site concerned and seek rectification if a breach is identified. The local authority may issue a warning or an infringement notice, or suspend or cancel a street performer's permit in accordance with the enforcement protocol. Nonetheless, it was reported that the enforcement officers had emphasized cooperation and education rather than confrontation and punishment in their enforcement approach, and the street performers had generally complied when requested to rectify the breach of conditions such as lowering their sound level.16Legend symbol denoting See McNamara, L. and Quilter, J. (2015).

Issues and recent developments

Concluding remarks

  • In Hong Kong, while there are no laws prohibiting street arts performance, there appears a lack of coordinated and facilitative arrangements that help promote such cultural development on one hand and maintain public amenity on the other. Both Taipei and Melbourne have recognized street performance as a part of the cultural life of the city and managed its development under a clearly spelt out regulatory framework and a related permit scheme which aim at minimizing nuisances that street performance may cause to the local communities without stifling the opportunities for street performers to showcase their talents. In Melbourne, the issuance of detailed busking guidelines also aims to help stakeholders understand the regulatory framework and the permit conditions, and facilitate self-regulation of street performers.
  • Regulation of street performance through a permit scheme may take different approaches which vary in terms of the types of permit issued, criteria adopted for assessing permit applicants, and designation of public spaces for street performance. Taipei features a uniform permit scheme for all types of street performance, imposing quality assessment criteria on all applicants, and designating certain number of locations for street performance. On the other hand, Melbourne has introduced three types of permit to govern different types of street performance and imposed more stringent assessment criteria and control on permit holders undertaking performances with higher public safety risk or performing in premium busking locations. Except for designated premium busking locations and certain "no-go zones", general area busking permit holders who have passed a review are allowed to perform in different parts of the city.

Prepared by Ivy CHENG
Research Office
Information Services Division
Legislative Council Secretariat
22 May 2019


1.The Transport Department introduced MKPP on a trial basis in 2000 for improving road safety and the overall pedestrian environment in light of the rising pedestrian flow. The Government had reduced the implementation hours of MKPP in 2010, 2012 and 2014 respectively to address issues about noise nuisance and street obstruction in the area. In light of the persistence of the issues, the Government abolished MKPP from 4 August 2018 in response to a motion passed by the Yau Tsim Mong District Council on 24 May 2018 requesting the Government to study the termination of the MKPP pilot scheme.

2.See GovHK (2013) and Home Affairs Bureau (2014).

3.The noise level of street performance is governed by the Noise Control Ordinance (Cap. 400). However, the acceptable noise level or noise measurement procedures to be used in assessing the acceptability of the noise are not specified in the Ordinance.

4.Pursuant to the Summary Offences Ordinance (Cap. 228), street performers playing any musical instrument in public street or road are required to apply for a one-off permit from the Commissioner of Police.

5.See香港01 (2018) and Home Affairs Bureau (2019).

6.The "Open Stage" scheme was introduced in 2010 as a pilot scheme designating three places for street arts performers to stage their performance. In 2012, two sites under the scheme were excluded due to the relatively low level of patronage. At present, the scheme only covers a designated outdoor area of Sha Tin Town Hall, allowing performers who pass an audition to perform at the area. Between 2013 and 2017, only 62 applications for staging performance under the scheme were received by LCSD and 32 applicants had passed the audition to become eligible performers. See GovHK (2018). 

7.Under the Street Performance Scheme which was launched in 2015, street performers are required to apply for a one-year permit from WKCDA before they are allowed to stage their performance at designated areas in WKCD. Applicants are required to demonstrate their performance for not less than five minutes to determine if the proposed performance is as stated in the application form. Street performers are also required to comply with the Guidelines for Street Performance set by WKCDA. As at January 2019, over 500 permits have been issued under the Scheme since its establishment, of which 124 are currently valid. See Home Affairs Bureau (2019).

8.See香港電台網站(2018) and東網(2018).

9.See 2016至2019年度油尖旺區議會第十六次會議記錄(2018) and 香港01 (2018).

10.See GovHK (2018).

11.Under the revamped permit scheme, the scope of street performance is tightened to include mainly activities that are entertaining and engaging. Certain activities such as bubble blowing, balloon twisting and portrait art are no longer covered under the revamped scheme.

12.In Melbourne, busking is not permitted in parks and gardens; outside memorial/religious sites, hospitals and residential areas; and in other designated areas. Amplified busking is not allowed outside hotels, motels, residential buildings and in other designated areas.

13.Currently, premium permit locations include five musical sites and one non-musical site in Bourke Street Mall. The local authority has considered adding new premium busking sites under the permit scheme.

14.Each applicant has to demonstrate their act or performance to a review panel for assessing the safety and amenity aspects of the performance, and ensuring that the performance meets the criteria of busking. The review process also enables the local authority and the performers to identify and resolve any noise or risk management issues if there are any before a permit is granted.

15.Under the busking guidelines in Melbourne, specific sound level standards are set for different types of permit. In case the noise output has generated complaints and is determined to be intrusive, the responsible officer may request the street performer to lower the sound level or cease the performance. Repeated excessive noise caused by a performance may result in cancellation of a busking permit.  

16.See McNamara, L. and Quilter, J. (2015).

17.See The News Lens (2017).

18.See City of Melbourne (2017).

19.See McNamara, L. and Quilter, J. (2016).

20.Sound level standard measured in terms of "LAeq" (A-weighted equivalent continuous sound level measured over a stated period of time) has replaced the previous "L10" level (measuring the sound level exceeding for 10% of the time of the measurement period) which is sensitive to short-term noise events. The new measurement can also be easily measured using a mobile application and facilitate noise control by the street performers.


Hong Kong

1.Communications and Public Relations Office, Chinese University of Hong Kong. (2015) First-ever Census of Hong Kong Street Performers: Existing policy fails to empower full-time performers may cause overcrowding in some districts.

2.GovHK. (2013) Press Releases: LCQ10 – Street performance activities.

3.GovHK. (2017) Press Releases: LCQ8 – Management of the Mong Kok Pedestrian Precinct.

4.GovHK. (2018) Press Releases: LCQ3 – Regulation and promotion of street performances.

5.Home Affairs Bureau. (2014) Government's Policy on Street Arts Performance. LC Paper No. CB(2)1442/13-14(07).

6.Home Affairs Bureau. (2019) Replies to initial written questions raised by Finance Committee Members in examining the Estimates of Expenditure 2019-20.

7.Legislative Council Secretariat. (2014) Background brief on Government's Policy and Measures on Street Performance. LC Paper No. CB(2)1442/13-14(08).

8.Leisure and Cultural Services Department. (2019) Use and Management of Public Open Space Managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. LC Paper No. CB(2)1269/18-19(04).

9.Minutes of Meeting of the Panel on Home Affairs of the Legislative Council. (2014) 12 May. LC Paper No. CB(2)2389/13-14. 

10.West Kowloon Cultural District. (2019) Street Performance Scheme.


12.《行人專用區:街頭表演可領許可證 警方數據揭申請數字極低》,《香港01》,2018年8月3日。

13.《探射燈:許可證多掣肘 街頭藝人卻步》,《東網》,2018年10月20日。

14.《「開放舞台」計劃反應欠佳 參加者冀減少限制》,《香港電台網站》,2018年5月1日。

15.賈菁華等:《香港街頭表演 政策建議報告》,2014年。


16.City of Melbourne. (2011a) Busking - Street Activity Policy 2011.

17.City of Melbourne. (2011b) Street Activity Policy 2011 – Busking Guidelines.

18.City of Melbourne. (2017) Report to the Future Melbourne (Prosperous City) Committee – Busking Guidelines Review.

19.City of Melbourne. (2019a) Busking and street entertainment.

20.City of Melbourne. (2019b) Melbourne Busking Handbook 2019.

21.Department of Culture Affairs, Taipei City Government. (2015) Street Performer - Street Entertainers in Taipei.

22.McNamara, L. and Quilter, J. (2015) 'Long May the Buskers Carry On Busking': Street Music and the Law in Melbourne and Sydney. Melbourne University Law Review, vol. 39, pp. 539-591.

23.McNamara, L. and Quilter, J. (2016) Street Music and the Law in Australia: Busker Perspectives on the Impact of Local Council Rules and Regulations. Journal of Musicological Research, vol. 35, no. 2, pp. 113-127.

24.Taipei Times. (2012) Buskers seek space as street art booms.  

25.The Busking Project. (2017) Research on Busking Licenses in 34 Cities Worldwide.

26.The News Lens. (2017) Street Performers Juggle Regulations in Taiwan.


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