City could limit Plaza performances

    City of Ashland officials are considering a new policy that would put limits on how many times a performer can use the downtown Plaza each month.

    A performer also could be barred from booking the Plaza for the same day of the week over and over, and the time of the booking could be limited to two or three hours instead of six.

    The goal isn't to limit performances, but to ensure that more performers have a chance to use the Plaza and that no one is monopolizing the space, said city of Ashland Management Analyst Ann Seltzer.

    "We don't want people to think they can schedule it every Friday for six months," she said.

    Proposed Plaza use policy changes could come before the City Council for a decision as soon as Aug. 21.

    Some of the performers who use the Plaza are there so often they have become Ashland traditions.

    A group of fire dancers, for example, uses the Plaza four to five times per month, usually on Friday nights.

    Councilor Carol Voisin said the city should take a cautious approach when it comes to putting restrictions on Plaza performers.

    She said the fire dancing has become a social event for young people. Some college- and high-school age residents have learned how to do fire dancing themselves.

    "I'd hate for us to pre-empt an event that our youth love," Voisin said.

    Councilor Dennis Slattery suggested that performers be allowed to book the same day of the week more than once if no one else has reserved a spot on the desired day.

    Seltzer said city staff members currently work with performers to let them know which days are open. She said staff members don't track how many performers are turned away because there are no available openings for the days they want to perform.

    Under existing rules, performers who book the Plaza must leave enough space so that pedestrians and others can continue to walk through, said Ashland City Administrator Dave Kanner.

    That rule is unlikely to change.

    Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or

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