New York’s Music Venues Vital to City, Says Report

A study of the musical nightlife of New York shows these spaces are an integral part of the city’s urban landscape.
October 26, 2018, 5am PDT | Camille Fink
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A report released in September called Creative Footprint NYC takes a closer look at music venues in the city, their role in fostering community, and ways to ensure that they do not disappear.

In addition to locating the venues, the study considered the type of music the venues made available, reports Feargus O’Sullivan:

Crucially, the report doesn’t only measure venue size and location; it also develops metrics that help to assess the cultural and community value of each site. It does this by creating an “experimental output” metric that appraises the extent to which a venue provides non-mainstream alternatives to commercial offerings, and thus to what extent it broadens the city’s cultural possibilities.

Most venues are in Manhattan, but the bulk of experimental venues are in Brooklyn and Queens, according to the report. Gentrification and rising rents in these areas can threaten these alternative venues, and the consequences can run deep, O’Sullivan points out:

And when less commercial venues are forced to close, a focal point for part of the local community is lost, as is a place where some social divides are bridged. When these venues are cultural beacons for minority communities, which themselves face the threat of displacement, the potential damage to community cohesion and neighborhood identity is even greater.  

Part of remedying this, says Sullivan, is understanding the value and contribution of these music venues. In addition, policies can support music venues, such as developer incentives, rent control, and easier permitting processes. “Something needs to be done to protect and nurture the city’s vitality, to prevent it from becoming a mere dormitory for the better off. That something could—indeed should—involve a more positive attitude to nightlife,” argues Sullivan.

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Published on Thursday, October 18, 2018 in CityLab
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