Today I wrote to the Longview Parks and Recreation Dept...
My name is Richard Yates and I am a working on my Humanities degree at Washington State University, Vancouver.
I am planning a "mail art" exhibition and was wondering what types of permits I might need to set up a display of this art at Lake Sacajawea, hopefully near Martin's Dock. Not a permanent structure, just a quickly erected display consisting of badminton poles, twine, sheets, and art work pinned to the sheets. The choice of an outside, public location is intentional, my hope being that I will be showing art to people that might not be interested in going to an actual museum, but who might find this particular type of art fun and exciting. I would not be charging admission to the exhibition, would not be selling any of the art work, but I would like to hand out printed brochures explaining what "mail art" is and listing some web sites where people can find out more information on the subject.
The lightness of the display materials is primarily so the exhibit can be mobile, so I should ask if I would need a separate or different type of permit if I wanted to move the exhibit to a different part of the lake or to some other public area. And, would I need more than one permit if I wanted to show the exhibit periodically throughout the summer, as weather allows?
I'm assuming that I would NOT be able to show my exhibit on a day when some other event is taking place (if I will be allowed to show it at all). Is this be true? Or, can I get some special type of permit that allows me to show my exhibit right along with (or relatively near, but not as part of) the other events taking place. I'm thinking specifically here of the Fourth of July festivities and the summer concerts at the lake.
And, if I can get a permit to display my exhibit, are there any problems with or restrictions on advertising the event(s). A mail art exhibit, by its very nature, involves lots of people from a variety of places, and I would like to know if there are any regulations against advertising an event on public land, hopefully drawing some of the people who contribute art and are within traveling distance to come see their work on display.
I think these are the only issues I needed information on (permits, locations, conflicts with other events, advertising), but if you know of anything else that might be a problem, or some other steps or regulations that I will need to negotiate, I would appreciate being made aware of them before I try to stage my exhibition and run into legal trouble.
I sent this email this morning before 10:am and as of 10:32pm I haven't heard back from anyone yet... When I do (if I'm feeling naughty and they give me bad news) I'll post their response... Knowing Longview like I do, I'm expecting that there will be ISSUES... Perhaps even PROBLEMS...
The HORROR that I am dreading is that they will say something like, "You'll have to apply for a permit and that will cost XXX dollars, but also, the City Council would like to SEE the art work before we allow you to show it in public..." Suddenly it will be a first ammendment issue and I'll end up getting REALLY upset and deciding that I'm NOT going to pay for a permit and I'm going to show everything anyway and then I'll get a ticket or thrown in jail or all of the art work will get confiscated and destroyed... But then I'll be able to write all about it and it will go to court and I'll be on CNN... and I REALLY don't want to be on CNN... Most probably, they will just say, "No. You can't show art work on city owned property..." Then I'll just do the show right in my front lawn (I'm two blocks away from Lake Sacajawea in Longview, Washington, and every year during the INDEPENDENCE DAY festivities hundreds of people wander past my house on the way to the flee market, concerts, demonstrations, and fireworks that go one at the lake. Even if I just set up my exhibit in my own front lawn facing the sidewalk, I'll still have a parade of viewers going by all day on the 3rd and 4th and a few people on the 2nd and 5th as well... Without even having to pay for a permit or being worried that I'm going to get clubbed by a cop... Sounds like a good plan to me!!!)