Guide to New Orleans Street Performance

Small Center’s 2015 PID Summer Fellows worked with the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans (MaCCNO) to create a pocket guide to regulations for street performance in the French Quarter and the Marigny for musicians and law enforcement.

Project Dates

May 2015–August 2015


MaCCNO consistently receives complaints that a lack of clarity about the laws governing street performance (by musicians, neighborhood groups, and enforcement agencies alike) lead to misunderstandings, incorrectly issued citations, and, often, loss of income for performers. Recognizing the importance of this New Orleans tradition, Small Center and MaCCNO collaborated to develop a tool that would offer unbiased information about the laws.

Small Center Engagement

Design work began with a series of expert interviews, and was followed with group interviews of musicians representing the brass band and street musician communities. These discussions changed the work from an overarching examination of the noise ordinance to a deeper dive into the regulations and key aspects of street performance in downtown New Orleans. The design team took to the streets of the French Quarter, spending several nights conducting interviews with street musicians and establishing that a lack of knowledge about regulations on space and volume was a significant problem.

After an initial round of research and design, MaCCNO and key participants from the initial interviews were brought in to review a draft of a pocket-size graphic guide. Another review with representatives from the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Economy brought clarification of several pending changes. A final charrette at an area venue drew musicians, performers, activists and attorneys for additional feedback.

In supporting MaCCNO’s advocacy work through this project, Small Center’s role was to create an accurate, accessible tool that was neutral in content and tone to reach multiple audiences. The design team’s fresh perspective and graphic representation helped to highlight critical issues to clarify and resulted in a visual tool that challenged perceptions of lawlessness through an examination of the many regulations in effect.

Partner Organization

The Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans (MaCCNO) emerged as a grassroots collective out of a meeting called by trumpeter and venue owner Kermit Ruffins to address a series of crackdowns on small music venues. Over several years, the group emerged as a significant player in local policy circles, working to monitor transparency and cultural interests in the development of a city-wide noise ordinance and comprehensive zoning ordinance as well as advocating for individual venues and a right to the city for street musicians.


One of the key challenges for MaCCNO was a broad perception that there was no regulation currently in place, and confusion as to which regulations applied where and to whom. The Guide has been useful in reframing the conversations with the Department of Health and others around a need for greater clarity of regulations and more equitable enforcement. Thousands of copies have been made available to musicians and other interested citizens at local venues as a pocket reference. We were pleased to learn that the digital copy was loaded to the iPads of the French Quarter Task Force as a reference tool to understand the regulations for better enforcement. To view the finished brochure, please click here.



  • Ethan Ellestad
  • Hannah Kreiger-Benson

Team Members

Project Lead

  • Sue Mobley

2015 Summer PID Fellows

  • Lindsay Girardeau
  • Ashley Ricketson
  • Gustavo Rodas
  • JD Scott
  • Lauren Taylor


  • John Coyle
  • Maggie Hansen
  • Nick Jenisch
  • Donn Peabody
  • Emilie Taylor Welty

Special Thanks

  • Kyle Gancayco
  • Allison Gavrell
  • Tara Kennedy
  • Asante Salaam
  • Nakita Shavers
  • Bob Simms
  • Juliette Tworsey


  • Surdna Foundation

Press and Awards

New Orleans Street Performer Guide Looks to Protect Musicians, Clarify Law | The Times-Picayune