The Office of Nightlife (ONL) began as a law signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio on September 19, 2017. Local Law 178 of 2017, codified in New York City Charter section 20-d, mandated that the office �assist nightlife establishments navigate city licensing requirements, permits, or other approvals,� and required the Office to �advise the Mayor and various agencies on trends the nightlife industry as well as make policy recommendations on an ongoing basis.
New York City joined a global movement that comprises more than 50 cities. Each one has recognized the contribution that restaurants, bars, dance clubs and live music venues provide to the city's local economy and culture and the need for a dedicated voice to speak for those important businesses. Similar efforts exist in major global capitals such as Amsterdam, London, Paris, and Berlin to support vibrant urban nightlife have improved industry and resident relations, and developed healthier, more productive nighttime economies.
Historically, the nightlife industry and its activities have been viewed more as a nuisance or a liability, with limited recognition or support as an economic engine of the city, a vital incubator of culture, or as a safe haven for diversity and community. As a newly established voice for nightlife, under the auspices of Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME), the inaugural ONL team has had the responsibility to reframe New York's relationship to its nightlife.
ONL is a non-enforcement liaison, a convener between city government and the nightlife ecosystem of operators, performers, workers, patrons, and residents. The Office's purpose is to help establish and coordinate systemic solutions to support the nighttime economy, culture, and quality of life. Its goal is to make nightlife fairer, safer, more equitable and accessible, and to make sure that nightlife works for all New Yorkers, and the city's millions of visitors each year.
In the three years since it was established, ONL at MOME has made major strides toward fulfilling that mission. This report serves as a record of that progress and sets forth recommendations to help secure the future of nightlife. It also includes a section on ONL's response to the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic, and the shutdowns it required, have caused incalculable economic damage to the nightlife industry. The pause the pandemic forced has created a space for reflection and reevaluation, creating an opportunity to address both the challenges the pandemic has caused and those this industry was already facing. ONL is proud to present this report as a plan that looks past the end of the pandemic, to rebuild and reorient the ways in which New York City perceives and supports our vital nightlife sector.