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NYC getting an official ‘Nighttime Ambassador’ advocate for music and nightlife

NYC Gay Pride March 2016
Mayor Bill de Blasio at the 2016 Pride March, photo by Amanda Hatfield

As proposed by NYC council member Rafael Espinal, NYC is joining cities like Berlin, Amsterdam, London, and Paris in establishing an office dedicated to nightlife. The Nighttime Ambassador, or “Night Mayor,” will serve as “an advocate for the music and nightlife community” and “a central point for coordination between venues, local authorities, and communities.” This announcement is part of New York Works, a ten-year economic plan from Mayor Bill de Blasio aimed at creating well paying jobs and investing in new industries. Read the full text of the initiative regarding the Nightlife Ambassador below.

Another music related initiative detailed in New York Works regards the creation of affordable workspace for artists. Along with spaces at Brooklyn Army Terminal and at a former Army warehouse on Governors Island, the city is supporting organizations like Spaceworks, with whom they partnered to provide free rehearsal space for NYC musicians this month as part of New York Music Month, aka June.

Perhaps the creation of a Nightlife Ambassador will have some effect on the ongoing struggle to repeal NYC’s Cabaret Law. On that front, Resident Advisor reports that the New York City Council will meet on Monday, June 19 at City Hall to discuss the enforcement of the Cabaret Law. Activist groups, including the Dance Liberation Network and NYC Artist Coalition, are encouraging people to attend and share their stories. Earlier this week, the city passed legislation making drinking in public, and public urination civil offenses, not criminal ones, so the city seems to be loosening up just a bit.

All of this follows the first major economic impact study on the music industry in NYC that was commissioned by the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and published back in March. Among other things, that study found that 20% of NYC’s smaller music venues have closed in the last 15 years. Since the study’s publication, Shea Stadium lost its lease and has to look for a new location, even after successfully funding their kickstarter. Suburbia was raided by police a week ago, and remains shut down.

Initiative 22: Create an advocate position within MOME for music and nightlife

New York’s culture and nightlife are part of the city’s brand, attracting the best talent and defining neighborhood character. However, over the past 15 years, more than 20 percent of the city’s smaller music venues have closed. In addition to high rents, venues also face challenges navigating the City’s permit and licensing systems. New York City is at risk of losing the perception of its brand as an incubator of arts and culture.
In February 2016, the portfolio of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment was expanded to include music, with a mandate to keep New York a capital for the industry. In June 2016, MOME brought together over 75 music companies and organizations for the first New York Music Industry Convening. Having just issued its first-ever Music Industry Economic Impact Study, which addresses music jobs, wages, and economic output, MOME is committed to ensuring the continued success of the New York music industry.
The City will designate a Nightlife Ambassador to serve as an advocate for the music and nightlife community at MOME, who will serve as a central point for coordination between venues, local authorities, and communities. The role will be supported by an advisory board that will include representatives from each of these entities. The advocate will provide support with licensing and permits and may, over time, provide financial support for legal services, architectural services, and safety improvements.
Other cities like London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Berlin have a similar office, often called the “night mayor,” and have seen reductions in noise complaints and retention in an industry that provides significant jobs and economic impact.

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