NYC Nightlife Unites To Provide Emergency Relief

The new fund from NYC Nightlife United will provide grants for cultural institutions and members of New York’s creative community.

The very ecosystem that makes New York City a cultural destination is at-risk, as many small businesses and artists enter their third month without their main source of income. For those whose work revolves around live entertainment, from bar staff and sound techs to promoters and performers, the coronavirus pandemic has effectively put their livelihoods on hold. In response to the growing need for relief, NYC Nightlife United—a coalition of individuals and organizations within the city’s arts community—has launched a new rapid-response fund to help those whose work has been impacted by the pandemic.

Among the members of the creative community who have joined NYC Nightlife United are Brooklyn venue Friends and Lovers and AdHoc Presents, both of whom are leading the initiative in partnership with the arts non-profit The Solo Foundation. The fund will distribute grants within two weeks of an approved application, with individuals able to apply for up to $5,000 in relief while small businesses can receive up to $20,000 in aid. The fund comes as Congress is reviewing the second coronavirus stimulus package, the first of which expanded unemployment benefits and pay protection—the federal government has yet to pass arts-specific relief measures.

“Businesses in live music need immediate aid and face challenges unique to our industry, but there were no relief programs made just for us,” AdHoc co-founder and owner Ric Leichtung said. “We’re fiercely independent people who tap into our community to make the changes we want to see happen. When there’s no road paved for us, we make the concrete.”

Priority will be given to NYC-based small businesses, venues, and individuals who work within the city’s nightlife and cultural spaces. Venues and artists were among the first to feel the financial impact of the pandemic, with large gathering bans closing entertainment venues long before stay-at-home orders were instituted across the country. In addition to providing an emergency fund, NYC Nightlife United will also be working closely with the Mayor’s Office of Nightlife in order to protect the city’s cultural community against financial instability in the future.

“New York nightlife has long been an essential part of our city’s economy, culture, and identity, and this pandemic has provided a direct and devastating blow,” Ariel Palitz, senior executive director of the Office of Nightlife said. “In order to find our way through this crisis, everyone must band together in unprecedented ways, and venues, promoters, and entertainers are coming together through important new organizations such as NYC Nightlife United to look out for each other in this time of need.”

NYC Nightlife United is the latest group to address the hardship the arts community is facing because of the pandemic, with other organizations like the Recording Academy and MusiCares launching emergency funds to help those in the arts community experiencing financial distress. In addition to funds, other organizations like the National Independent Venue Association and the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers have joined together to lobby Congress for measures like expanded unemployment and rent cancellation.

“Initiatives like NYC Nightlife United’s emergency fund give me hope that we can work together to help our venues and creative community survive this hiatus which will save New York’s nightlife culture for the future,” Kae Burke, co-founder and creative director for House of Yes said. “We just can’t do it alone.”

Applications for small business venue owners open on June 5, and other qualifying groups can apply starting July 5. For more information about the fund and how you can get involved, visit their website.