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Winter Park Passed Ban On Artists

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Artist Thomas Thorspecken Photo by Deanna Ferrante, Orlandoweekly.com

Last month, the Winter Park City Commission voted unanimously to ban street art after receiving complaints from merchants, who said performers were blocking the street outside their shops and blasting loud music.

In what seems like municipal overreach, however, the ordinance bans all kinds of art: “acting; singing; playing musical instruments; puppetry; miming; magic; dancing; juggling; the public display or creation of crafts, sculpture, artistry, writings, or compositions, including the application of brush, pastel, crayon, pencil, or other similar objects to paper, cardboard, canvas, cloth or other similar medium” — all are now forbidden acts in Winter Park’s Central Business district.

It’s that last part of the ordinance, about the application of brush or pencil to paper, that has “urban sketcher” Thomas Thorspecken riled.

Thorspecken has been sketching around Central Florida every day since 2009. On his blog, Analog Artist Digital World, he recently published a post titled “Winter Park welcomes dogs and bans artists,” about how he sketched a group of men drinking wine at a sidewalk table, then “slipped away like a criminal into the night.”

Thorspecken says, “The city just needed to draft an ordinance to keep loud amplified musicians off the street. Instead, they banned all artists.”

Winter Park’s official motto is “city of culture and heritage,” but in 2012, downtown Winter Park, that zone of shopping bags and sidewalk cafés, trademarked the slogan “Every day exceptional.” It seems Park Avenue takes exception to any culture that doesn’t charge an admission price.

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