MANHATTAN (CN) – Eight artists claim New York City illegally restricts the number of artists who can sell paintings and photos in city parks. Artists United claims the rules that restrict artists to certain spots in parks on a first-come first-served basis are not applied to vendors of food or sunglasses. The new rules took effect July 19.
If there is a dispute over which artist arrived at the vending spot first, all of the artists may be forced to leave, according to the complaint in New York County Court.
The artists sell their wares in Battery Park, Union Square Park, High Line Park, and Central Park in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Parks Commissioner Adrien Benepe are named as defendants, along with the city and its parks department.
The artists say the city is violating the First Amendment and equal protections of the Constitution. They say that such restrictions are not placed on vendors of food, drinks, T-shirts and sunglasses.
The artists also claim that the “first-come, first-served” rule is too vague.
“May an expressive matter vendor leave his or her display to address personal needs or eat meals without risking that his or her departure shall be deemed an abandonment? If so, for how long?” the plaintiffs ask.
They claim the scramble for vending spots has created a “survival of the fittest” atmosphere that discriminates against women, the elderly and physically infirm.
The artists want the rules enjoined as unconstitutional. They are represented by John Schuyler Brooks with Philips Nizer.