Stars of the sidewalk

Updated: 2015-10-06 08:30

By Li Xueqing in Shanghai(China Daily)

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Stars of the sidewalk

A magician's performance attracts pedestrians on the square in front of Jing'an Kerry Center in downtown Shanghai in October 2014. Photo by Lai Xinlin / For China Daily

Street performers say licenses provide a place to show off their talentsand some much-needed social recognition, reports Li Xueqing in Shanghai.

One Friday afternoon in September, Xing Zhenhua opened his guitar case and began singing in front of a shopping mall in Shanghai's Changning district. As soon as he started, several urban patrol officers arrived on the scene.

Little under a year ago, musicians like Xing would have had to evade these officers, known as chengguan, like "a mouse escaping a cat" because they had no legitimate right to give street performances.

This time, though, he stood his ground safe in the knowledge that in his guitar case was a license issued by the Shanghai Performance Trade Association that permitted him to play his music in the street.

The 26-year-old was among 14 street performers who were granted licenses on Sept 16. The permit, which has been available since late last year, allows them to perform in certain spots and at certain times.

Xing's first two performances were from 3:30 pm to 6 pm on a Thursday and Friday. He said he earned about 100 yuan ($15), less than those who had later spots.

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