The defunct Williamsburg venue Death by Audio. (Tod Seelie / Gothamist)
Four months have passed since the city got its first ever Night Mayor, and while we haven’t heard much from Ariel Palitz since then, that’s presumably because she’s busy solving all of the city’s pressing Night Problems—repealing the vestiges of prohibition, keeping out nocturnal intruders, reviving our tragically departed watering holes—that sort of thing.
To help her with that important work, the city has announced a 14-member board that will advise the city’s lawmakers on matters pertaining to the nightlife industry. Those names include hip-hop pioneer Kurtis Blow, as well as thirteen other stakeholders whose titles range from community board manager to resident DJ (full list below). Four were appointed by the mayor, and ten were appointed by the City Council.
“New York City’s nightlife is second to none. It attracts visitors from around the world and is an economic engine across the five boroughs,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “The new Nightlife Advisory Board reflects the diversity that makes our city and our nightlife great. Working together, we will ensure the industry continues to thrive.”
“For so long the nightlife industry has not had anyone advocating on its behalf, leaving too many businesses and residents left in the bureaucratic shadows,” added Council member Rafael Espinal, who represents parts of Bushwick, East New York, Brownsville and Cypress Hills.
When he first introduced the bill last year, Espinal told Gothamist that one of the night mayor’s duties would be ensuring the survival of DIY spaces and smaller venues, and fighting back against arbitrary crackdowns from cops and landlords.
While that ambition hasn’t made it into any of the official press releases, the new Nightlife Advisory Board does include at least one outspoken DIY advocate: Olympia Kazi, a member of the NYC Artists Coalition, and one of the City Council’s appointees. One of her first priorities, she said, will be reining in M.A.R.C.H. (Multi-Agency Response to Community Hotspots), the law enforcement arm known to conduct “gotcha” raids on venues and bars.
“We’re all advocating for safety, and we need to make sure that enforcement is designed in a way that serves everybody, and not in a way that just closes businesses down without any real reason,” Kazi told Gothamist. “We believe the cultural vibrancy of the city is at stake, and we need to do something about that.”
The full list of nightlife advisors can be found below:
José Francisco Ávila, founder and managing member of Garufina Afro-Latina Entertainment, LLC. and Chairman of the Board of The Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc.
Kurtis Blow, rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, DJ and Chairman of the Universal Hip Hop Museum who has released 15 albums over the course of his career
DJ Tikka Masala composes and produces music for the Obie and Bessie award winning Brooklyn based feminist acrobatic dance company, LAVA, and is resident DJ at Henrietta Hudson
Susan Stetzer, district manager for Community Board 3, Manhattan, where she has served for the past 14 years
Luisa F. Torres, owner of Mojitos Restaurant Bar and community activist
City Council Appointees
Robert Bookman, regulatory and liquor licensing attorney, partner Pesetsky and Bookman
Marti Gould Cummings, drag artist, LGBTQ advocate
Alvester Garnett, drummer, percussionist, arts educator and advocate
Pedro Goico, representative at New York Supermarket Association
Olympia Kazi, architect, arts advocate and urban design critic. Member of the NYC Artists Coalition
Andrew Praschak, environmental attorney
Andrew Rigie, Executive Director of the New York City Hospitality Allianc
Susan Xenarios, director and founder, Crime Victims Treatment Center, Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospitals