I don’t think so, yet some people I encounter seem to consider busking/street performing to be the same as begging. Once while I was all painted and dressed up in my garb I had a cop say to me “you can’t panhandle here.” Another beggar once referred me as “us panhandlers.” I told him I don’t consider myself a panhandler.
I think of a beggar or a panhandler as someone who doesn’t do anything except ask for money. A performer is actually doing something. That’s the difference.
If I am a beggar then so is Wikipedia and all the non-profits in the world. How does Wikipedia raise money? Well instead of putting a can out there to collect tips they ask. It’s not any different really. Both a performer and Wikipedia provide a service and then ask for money. Wikipedia provides an information service and performers such as statues, mimes, puppeteers and musicians provide an entertainment service.
There are people out there though that think of it like that. So if you are planning on performing on the street and putting a can to collect tips you’ll encounter that at some time. To some people it’s considered pretty low on the totem pole of status and they’ll look down on you for doing so. But I think it’s pretty cool to see people doing that at least when you like what they are doing. The bottom line is people appreciate art. So continue to make art and who cares if some snobs think it’s begging.