COVID Recovery ∙ Economy
Culture, Society, and Nightlife
At its best, New York City is the most exciting City in the world. But 2020 was a tough year, and New Yorkers took our responsibility to keep each other safe during the pandemic seriously. Once we’ve gotten the vaccine distributed and the virus under control, no city will do more to start living life to its fullest again.
Before the pandemic, New York City’s nightlife contributed 299,000 jobs, $13.1 billion in employee compensation, and $35.1 billion in economic output. Our rich cultural sector is what makes New York the city that never sleeps. That’s why it’s crucial we invest in bringing back our restaurants, bars, music venues, museums and theaters. These venues are where New Yorkers come to create and socialize, where tourists come to experience New York, and where community thrives.
New York City needs to be the first major City to reopen, and that means reopening everything that makes us who we are. Our restaurants, our playhouses, our parks, our events—we’ve sacrificed for the common good, and we deserve to make New York City fun again.
Invest in the technology needed to make people feel safe at events.
Reopening our indoor spaces - our restaurants and bars; our concert halls and theaters; our sports arenas; our nightclubs - requires getting New York vaccinated, but it also requires being able to know who has received a vaccine. While this will contribute to public safety at larger events and indoor spaces, it will also make people confident as they start to live their lives again.
There are numerous technological solutions to track who has and hasn’t received a vaccination, and for individuals to show their vaccination status. A Yang administration would prioritize implementing a safe and secure standard ASAP so that individuals can feel safe going out and enjoying City life again.
Host the biggest Post-Covid Celebration in the world.
New Yorkers are tired of staying in. We’ve missed experiencing cultural life with one another, and there is nowhere more social and fun than New York. That’s why, once the state of emergency is officially over and our health experts tell us it’s once again safe to congregate, a Yang administration would host outdoor celebrations in each borough to celebrate the end of the deadly pandemic and look toward a brighter future. In 2019, thousands gathered for a ticker tape parade to celebrate the US Women’s National Team World Cup victory. Imagine the excitement of that event in every borough celebrating the end to Covid-19 while remembering those we lost.
Make outdoor dining a part of New York City.
Over 10,000 restaurants participated in outdoor dining, which the city estimated has saved almost 100,000 jobs. In September, the Mayor announced the program would be extended permanently and year round. We support this move and will propose ways to make it easier for businesses to comply with outdoor dining regulations and to update city code to ensure this measure is a permanent fixture in our cityscape.
Make to-go cocktails a permanent fixture.
During the pandemic, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order relaxing the state’s restrictions on carry-out or delivered alcohol. This was a lifeline for struggling establishments, many of whom rely on alcohol sales for their revenue. It was also widely appreciated by New Yorkers who found the initiative to be fun during an otherwise very rough period. We should continue this policy by working with leaders in Albany to permanently ease restrictions. We don’t need to make NYC the next Bourbon Street to make NYC living more fun. Our administration will continue to enforce existing rules around safety and quality of life while loosening onerous restrictions on small businesses.
Drive Outdoor Performances with the Parks Department.
Before the pandemic, outdoor movie screenings, concerts and performances in parks were a major source of entertainment. We should build on legislation recently passed by the City Council that establishes an “Open Culture” program, which temporarily allows eligible cultural and art institutions and venues to use approved open public street space for cultural events. A Yang administration would look to make this program permanent and would promote performances through our NYC App so all New Yorkers are aware of the happenings in our city.
We also propose a new program: Broadway to the People, working with Broadway producers to show Broadway theater in public parks at reduced fees. This will allow more New Yorkers to partake in the magic of Broadway and provide financial support to theaters as they begin turning the lights back on.
Dedicate City Hall to enhancing NYC’s nightlife and culture.
In 2017, the City Council passed landmark legislation creating the city’s first-ever Office of Nightlife. This agency positions New York City as a global leader joining in a growing movement of cities around the world that have offices dedicated to establishing safe and thriving nightlife economies. We propose creating a Deputy Mayor of Entertainment, Nightlife and Culture dedicated to coordinating with the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment, Cultural Affairs, the Office of Nightlife and the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit. The Deputy Mayor will focus on rebuilding these essential industries to recover from the pandemic while also building a “more fun” future for New York. Now, more than ever, we must invest city resources in efforts that will help bring struggling nightlife establishments back to life and support the creation of new businesses.
Above all, we must work with nightlife leaders to augment a post-Covid recovery plan so that people are confident they can gather safely with an emphasis on small businesses and LGBTQ-owned bars, which are quickly disappearing from the city's nightlife options.
Advocate for the legalization of marijuana.
We’ve already largely decriminalized marijuana in New York City. It only makes sense to follow that logic through to the next step, allowing for recreational marijuana use - while continuing to free those from jail convicted of marijuana charges and expunging these charges from anyone’s record.
Bring NYC to the forefront of new cultural touchstones.
New York City is home to some of the most famed and celebrated cultural institutions, but we cannot forget about our local artists who create artwork through all mediums right here in New York. That is why our administration will partner with larger institutions to help subsidize rent for resident artists in buildings. These up-and-coming creators deserve a place to cultivate their craft and the city has a role to play in supporting their dreams.
Similarly, our administration would also work to attract content creator collectives, such as TikTok Hype Houses, where young artists collaborate. We need to help create similar artist collectives that utilize new technologies.
Finally, New York City has some of the most beautiful and iconic landscapes in the world. We should turn our bridges, monuments and buildings into works of art by hosting vivid projection mapping displays. Imagine the arch in Washington Square Park, the New York Public Library, or the Flatiron Building come alive with a projection mapping display. When it’s safe, we want to get New Yorkers excited again; this is one of many ways we plan to make NYC more fun and vibrant than ever before.
The current pandemic is stressful, and it’s taken a toll on all of us. But it’s important to remember who we are, and what we live for. Let’s not forget to rebuild the parts of New York that brought tourists from around the world and enriched our own souls.