New York’s nightlife community now has an official presence at City Hall.
The mayor’s office announced Wednesday that it has chosen Ariel Palitz as its first nightlife mayor. Palitz, a lifelong Manhattanite who has worked at clubs such as Club Mars and Sutra, will lead the city’s newly-created nightlife committee and work with elected officials on policies to help establishments big and small and the communities they operate in.
“I intend to listen to all voices, identify problems, find common ground, and implement realistic solutions,” Palitz, 47, who served on Manhattan’s Community Board 3, said in a statement. “The Office of Nightlife will be a place for operators, employees, creators, patrons, and residents alike.”
The New York Times first reported the announcement Wednesday afternoon.
City Councilman Rafael Espinal, who created the law that established the Office of Nightlife, said he was not involved in the city’s decision to choose Palitz, but he had very productive meetings with her during her interview process.
“I think she is a well-rounded person and has experience not only running a bar but also being on a community board.” he said.
Espinal spearheaded efforts to create a nightlife mayor following years of concerns from artists in the outer boroughs who said they were being unfairly inhibited by the city’s cabaret laws. Dating from 1926, the laws required bars to have a special permit from the city to legally allow dancing. They were eliminated in November.
Olympia Kazi, an organizer with the NYC Artist Coalition, a nonprofit group that worked to change the nightlife laws, said she was happy with Palitz’s selection and was confident she would be receptive to community concerns.
“She seems to be very reasonable and open minded. That seems to be a good first step,” Kazi said.
The NYC Hospitality Alliance, the non-profit group that advocates for the city’s restaurants, bars and hotels, had been advocating for a nightlight mayor for 20 years and also commended the city for picking Palitz.
“Ariel’s passion for New York culture, combined with her hands on experience running nightlife venues, and participation in community affairs make her uniquely qualified to step into the vital role of director of the Office of Nightlife,” Andrew Rigie, the group’s executive director, said in a statement.
The Office of Nightlife will operate under the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and will be under the oversight of the City Council’s Committee on Consumer Affairs.
Espinal said the City Council will choose eight members and the mayor will choose four to serve on the advisory board that will work under Palitz.
Palitz will conduct town hall meet-and-greets throughout the city over the next year and present a comprehensive policy report to the City Council and mayor, according to Espinal.
“I made it clear what drove me to create the legislation and this office is to create a voice for those who are under-represented,” Espinal said.
Kazi said the biggest issue facing the community is the protection of DIY spaces. Rising rents and costly permits have hurt hundreds of venues, especially those in the outer boroughs, she said.
“We need to do something more to protect small spaces,” she said.