Cologne, Cologne… Huge but beautiful city. I will always have sentiment to this place. First performances, first real money and first disappointments. Amazing atmosphere and, what’s more important – people! From dusk to dawn, from dawn to dusk people are here. In different parts of the city you can easily perform at any time of the day and you will have audience. Not always the one you wished for but if you start your act at 4am next to the strip club don’t expect sophisticated people.
Anyway, people here do appreciate street artists. During the day you can encounter huge amount of musicians, statues, painters and more in front of the Dom cathedral. The atmosphere among artists is also relatively nice which go with the rule ‘If it’s enough for one, it’s enough for two but the better one will have more’ and they usually don’t mind other artists.
Oficially you need to apply for a permit from the town council. It allows you to perform on the squares surrounding the cathedral. It is said it’s not expensive, however I had no occasion to check it.
Not-so-officially it is very easy to perform here. It’s easy to negotiate with the Police, or with Ordnungsamt. It’s important to do it as always – politely and with a smile. You know, show them you’re willing to cooperate. You are nice – they are nice. Sometimes they ask about permit and if you have none you may be asked to leave. Watch out for being caught the second time as they may fine you.
Moneywise you can be amazed, both how incredibly high the income may be and how shitty money you earned with your polished, sophisticated and exhausting performance. People sometimes pay generously and sometimes not. Also, since competition is high you have to be fast and better than anyone.
As for pitches, the cathedral is usually no. 1. Other places to perform are Schildergasse, which is the main shopping street in Cologne and the park by Rhein river. Of course, there are other places you could give it a shot, like Ebertplatz, Technopark and Deutz. Generally, there are lots of places, you just have to search. ;)
Recently the amplifier problem appeared. It turns out that it is officially forbidden to use any amplifying system within the city centre. Sometimes you can be stopped and asked to end your show but mostly it is just a verbal warning. However, I do not advise to go on with the show in the same place the same day after that as second offence will not be tolerated so nicely. Ironically, Fireshows are tolerated everywhere as long as you don’t cause direct threat.
I recommend Cologne if you can prepare yourself both for great earnings and for disappointment. No expecations are the best ones.