Co-blogger Branko has a Dutch saying when he hears a bad street musician: “Net zo irritant als een straatmuzikant” (Just as irritating as a street musician). Of course, there are good ones and I sometimes give them money, but summer has a nasty way of attracting bad street musicians as well as gypsy children forced to play in order to earn money for some conspicuous adults. It’s basically child labour, but then with an accordion. I saw a gypsy child playing the accordion once in Den Bosch and saw her on the news the exact same evening with a man taking her earnings away. According to the Dutch children protection agency, the kids are 10 to 14 years old and earn money for their family. They are allowed to play within the EU and so it’s not illegal somehow.
The wealthy city of Haarlem claims it is being invaded by “untalented Eastern European musicians” and next year, it plans to audition them so they can get a permit. City council believes in musicians on the street, but not so many bad ones, or “beggars with an instrument”. This would make Haarlem the first Dutch city ever to impose permits on street musicians.
My guess is the musicians will just play elsewhere… like Amsterdam.