Times Square Alliance Says 'Intimidating' Costumed Panhandlers are to Blame for Low Broadway Ticket Sales

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Times Square Alliance Says 'Intimidating' Costumed Panhandlers are to Blame for Low Broadway Ticket Sales

According to the Times Square Alliance, Broadway's latest ticket slump may be at the hands of the area's notorious costumed panhandlers.

At a meeting held yesterday at the Marriott Hotel, the trade group representing the district shared their findings after recently speaking to a swath of tourists and New York-area locals, the Wall Street Journal has confirmed.

"We are actually seeing a decline in local theatergoers and they tell us that it's because they are accosted, they are overwhelmed," Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of the Broadway League, said at the meeting, specifically pointing out the individuals known for dressing up as some of pop culture's most well-known characters and offering to take photos in exchange for money.

The City Council is currently considering legislation which would crack down on the panhandlers, including a stipulation which would require those in costume to carry an identification card.

"We need to balance the constitutional rights of individuals in the context of personal speech verses what is in many cases...garden-variety harassment," City Councilman Dan Garodnick told the publication.

Per the Wall Street Journal: "Surveys by the Broadway League showed that the proportion of theatergoers who attended a show who were from the New York suburbs had fallen from 21% in 2009-10 to 17% in 2012-13, Ms. St. Martin said."

"What I hear more than anything else is it's just so intimidating to walk through Times Square," St. Martin said.

For the Wall Street Journal's entire report, click here.

The Times Square Alliance, founded in 1992, works to improve and promote Times Square - cultivating the creativity, energy and edge that have made the area an icon of entertainment, culture and urban life for over a century.

In addition to providing core neighborhood services with its Public Safety Officers and Sanitation Associates, the Alliance promotes local businesses; encourages economic development and public improvements; co-coordinates numerous major events in Times Square (including the annual New Year's Eve and Solstice in Times Squarecelebrations); manages the Times Square Museum and Visitor Center; and advocates on behalf of its constituents with respect to a host of public policy, planning and quality-of-life issues. The Alliance's district covers most of the territory from 40th Street to 53rd Street between 6th and 8th Avenues, as well as Restaurant Row (46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue).

The Alliance is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, accepts tax-deductible contributions, and is governed by a large, voluntary Board of Directors.

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