On Thursday, the New York City Council approved a bill that will establish an Office of Nightlife and a Nightlife Advisory Board. Brooklyn Councilman Rafael Espinal spearheaded the measure, which is in direct response to the rapid closure of beloved clubs and music venues across his borough in recent years. The new law goes into effect in 60 days, by which time Mayor Bill de Blasio is required to appoint a director to oversee the new office (a Night King or Queen, if you will). The advisory board will consist of 12 members, eight of whom will be appointed by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, with the other four appointments coming from the mayor.
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In the past few years, a rush of music venues in booming neighborhoods like Williamsburg and the East Village have been forced to close their doors. Earlier this month, the beloved Webster Hall closed for the foreseeable future. In March, Brooklyn DIY venue Shea Stadium also shuttered as it lacked the necessary permits required by the city. Espinal's new law aims to help curb this trend.
The new Office of Nightlife and Advisory Board will, in theory, help less-than-legal venues skirt (or more efficiently adhere to) some city regulations that might force them to close. Neither body will have any lawmaking power but will (among other things) “serve as a liaison to nightlife establishments in relation to city policies and procedures affecting the nightlife industry,” according to the bill.
On the surface, the new law is great news for struggling music venue operators across the city. What impact it will have remains to be seen, but with a local music industry that generates $21 billion in annual economic output, it's about time for lawmakers to take steps to keep it from falling apart.