Paris street artists furious over tripled rent

Thu Oct 1, 2009 3:07pm EDT
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By Sunaina Karkarey

PARIS (Reuters Life!) - The dozens of painters who sell portraits, street views and skylines in the colorful Montmartre district of Paris are furious about the city's plans to triple the cost of renting their patches.

The rent for a square meter patch on the Place du Tertre in Montmartre, a square bristling with painters vying fiercely to sell passing tourists quick-sketch portraits or luridly colored views of Paris, is set to rise to 554 euros ($807.2) from 160 euros.

Infuriated, the artists say it's only thanks to them that swarms of tourists flock to the area every year.

"The 18th district and Montmartre became famous because there were some great names of painting that worked here," said Vladimir, a local artist who declined to give his last name.

"We are the inheritors of this reputation, which we must maintain with our work, our presence, our behavior and the way we greet people from all over the world," he added.

Adding insult to injury, in the course of making their complaints, artists have discovered that the city council classifies them as "hawkers" rather than "artists."

"The question is that the town hall just doesn't respect us," Midani M'Barki, president of a local artists' association, told Reuters Television.

"It's treating us like chestnut or cake sellers. But we are artists. The entire world comes here because there are artists."   Continued...