City hunting snipes during Spoleto?

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It occurred to the Lowbrow recently to wonder how the City of Charleston will respond to the inevitable deluge of flyers, posters, and promotional handbills that – if past Spoletos are any measure – will soon be covering the peninsula. Ordinarily, you might expect they’d welcome the colorful, creative notices as a visual testament to the city’s willing surrender to the twin festivals. But last fall, city officials and police put on the steel-toed jackboots and cracked down on a longstanding regulation prohibiting snipes – otherwise known as promotional posters and flyers. They slapped any club or local performance group who’d had the temerity to put up a sign announcing their show with a $1,087 fine. That included unmounted handbills that made their way outside retail locations and onto the street, as handbills are wont to do. The reasoning went that snipes are visual eyesores akin to litter and grafitti (another urban guerilla practice they announced all-out war against just this past Monday) and can be neither tolerated nor excused.

But the 700 or so artists participating in Piccolo are unlikely all to be aware of the new anti-snipe crackdown. If artists are an official part of Piccolo, the City Office of Cultural Affairs includes them in published marketing and promotional materials, and they’re free to buy ads in the program guide. But many cash-strapped acts can’t afford ads. In the past, OCA has encouraged them to hit the streets and promote their shows on their own. Will the city this year be enforcing the anti-snipe law as agressively as they did last fall? It remains to be seen. Next on the city’s critical to-do list: a regulation against babies gurgling in public.

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