New legislation has been introduced in New York to appoint a “Night Mayor” for the city, with a look to creating better operating conditions for the nightlife industries.
Gothamist reports that, “[Councilman] Rafael Espinal is currently drafting legislation to create an Office Of Nightlife, overseen by a "night mayor" who would serve both as an advocate for independent art spaces and a liaison between City Hall and New York's $10 billion nightlife industry.”
"What I imagine the office doing is finding ways we can be helpful in creating a business friendly environment that supports nightlife," Espinal told Gothamist. "And I want to make sure that we're not a city where artists' ability to express themselves is hindered by bureaucracy."
The city is looking to follow in the footsteps of Amsterdam, which created the position—currently held by Mirik Milan—in 2014, and has reported both compelling economic and cultural benefits from the appointment. Milan’s position is funded by both the private and public sector, meaning that he can represent the interests of the businesses and the public equally, whilst mediating the often difficult conversations between the two sectors.
A big part of the proposed Night Mayor role in New York City is to cut some of the excessive red tape that binds small club and music venues. New York, like many other major cities, has seen the number of small, independent venues decline as rent prices rise and the strenuous conditions to operate become increasingly bureaucratic, unrealistic and hostile.
"I feel like these venues are facing a whole array of issues, getting up to code, and also dealing with pressures of real estate market here in New York," the councilman said. "We've gotten to the point where the only venues who are able to survive in this city are the high end nightclubs in the Meatpacking district, or places with similar business models."
Manhattan has endured a period of relative sterilization in the last two decades, as its once world-beating club scene receded, eventually resurfacing in Brooklyn neighborhoods Williamsburg and Bushwick. Clubs like Sound Factory, Twilo, and The Roxy all defined a golden era of Manhattan clubbing, spearheaded by a culture of all-night-long residencies from NYC house luminaries like Danny Tenaglia and Jonathan Peters. Today, rent in Manhattan has made it hostile towards experimental art and music, but this move from Councilman Espinal shows that there’s clear an appetite to rebuild aspects of New York that made it the cultural and party capital of the world.