This story was originally published in Architectural Lighting.

The growing list of municipalities employing advocates or advisers for their nighttime economies just increased by one major player: New York City. On August 24, the New York City Council passed a bill—championed by District 37 council member Rafael Espinal—that establishes a new advisory board, as well as an official Office of Nightlife to evaluate laws and policies relating to the nightlife industry and makes recommendations based on its findings. Mayor Bill de Blasio will select a director—or “night mayor”— to lead the office.

“NYC’s nightlife culture is an integral part of its identity, yet bureaucratic red tape, rising rents, and lack of community planning has made it increasingly difficult for venues that contribute to our iconic nightlife to stay in business,” Espinal said in a press release. “From local communities who deserve a decent quality of life, to businesses who are trying to do the right thing but are struggling to navigate government processes and are subject to hefty fines, this office and advisory board will be there for you. It is time New York City dedicate resources to this sector of our economy that produces not only financial capital, but also, cultural capital for our city.”

The Office of Nightlife director will serve as an intermediary between city officials and nighttime establishments relating to enforcement, permitting, and city planning policies and procedures to, “promote an economically and culturally vibrant nightlife industry, while accounting for the best interests of the city and its residents,” according to the bill. The Office of Nightlife will be up and running within 60 days of signing the bill, which was enacted on Sept. 19. The mayor’s office plans to have the director position filled by the end of 2017. “People are applying and interviews are taking place,” a city official tells Architectural Lighting.

The advisory council will comprise 12 total members: eight appointed by the City Council and four by the mayor’s office. The bill requires that the council make recommendations within 18 months of the official bill date and on an as-needed basis following the council’s initial report.

While this announcement is a promising step forward for American cities to join their European counterparts in proactively connecting and empowering nighttime economies by introducting official night mayor roles, external forces such as politics may complicate the efficacy of such an office. Some skeptics are already questioning if an official employed by the government can truly advocate for external businesses and entities. In a Sept. 26 article entitled "How to Be a Good 'Night Mayor,'" Citylab writer Feargus O'Sullivan cites the appointment of Amy Lamé as London's "night czar" as a potential cautionary tale: "From the outset, [Lamé] has been a proxy target for political attacks on [Mayor Sadiq Khan] himself, and thus her future and those of policy recommendations she makes, might be too closely linked to Khan’s political future to outlive his tenure." O'Sullivan also questions if New York's Office of Nightlife will be reduced to a "mere lobbying operation for local bars and clubs."

Despite these concerns, the possible impact of of such an office to support nighttime industries and local communities is significant. “Nightlife is a place where creative people meet. It’s a place where innovation takes place,” said Amsterdam's night mayor Mirik Milan in an interview with Architectural Lighting earlier this year. “And having a vibrant nightlife makes sure the city benefits from social, cultural, and economic perspectives.”

To learn more about night mayors in other cities read "Advocacy After Dark: Cities around the world are appointing and electing “night mayors” to promote their nighttime economies," from Jan/Feb 2018 issue of Architectural Lighting.

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