Natasha Ishak

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There’s a reason why New York is considered “the city that never sleeps.” A recent report put out by the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) shows that reputation is paying off big toward the city’s economy. The report evaluated the economic performance of 25,000 establishments across the boroughs that fit within the definition of having “activity occurring between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. in five key subsectors—food service, bars, arts and culture, venues, and sports and recreation.”

According to the report, New York City’s nightlife generated $35.1 billion in total economic output in 2016. With that, the city’s nightlife industry also helped support 299,000 jobs with $13.1 billion in employee wages and $697 million in tax revenue.

The report also shows that Brooklyn, specifically, is experiencing a big growth in the nightlife sector—the largest compared to the other four boroughs. As of 2016, Brooklyn boasts 5,500 nightlife establishments with an annual increase rate of 5 percent. There were 31,100 direct nightlife jobs supporting $608 million in wages, with growth rates of 10 and 15 percent annually, which is double the citywide rate. Total liquor licenses have also grown at an annual rate of 4 percent since 2000. There were 2,586 active licenses in Brooklyn last year.

However, there are still questions whether these establishments are sustainable in the long-run, particularly those that fall into the DIY venue category. There have been four reported closures in Brooklyn in less than a year—three of them, Silent Barn, The Gateway and The Spectrum (also known as the Dreamhouse,) were based in Bushwick.

The Spectrum, a DIY space for the LGBTQIA+ community, has launched a GoFundMe to raise $33,333 for its relocation; this is the second time the DIY space has been forced to relocate.

The Spectrum/Dreamhouse preparing to leave their past venue space. 

“We are currently facing eviction and losing our home and have been grateful for the immense response,” Gaga of the Boone, one of The Spectrum owners, wrote on the GoFundMe page. “We have had a few different possibilities open up, and while our immediate future is uncertain we are putting this fundraiser together to support our move out process and legal fees as well as to make sure we can still create events for you in other spaces.”

In the city’s nightlife report, 24 percent of establishment owners and operators said that they have seen decreased revenue over the last three years, but nearly twice that number—47 percent—have seen a decrease in their profits over the same period. That means that a substantial portion of these businesses are seeing their bottom lines decline even though they are bringing in more revenue.

The biggest driver of that could likely be rent, with 87 percent of owners surveyed in the report indicating that the rise of commercial rent is a challenge. New York University’s Furman Center, which collects demographics and quality of life data for each borough, does not have numbers on commercial rent. But their 2017 report did show that median property sale prices have increased more sharply in Brooklyn than in any other borough, a trend that would likely correspond with increasing commercial rent as well.

Brooklyn’s growing nightlife may also reflect other demographic trends within the borough. The Furman Center reported that, between 2000 and 2016, median incomes have increased more in Brooklyn than in any other borough (15 percent in Brooklyn followed by 12 percent in Manhattan, with flat or declining income rates in the other three boroughs).

In an email to Bushwick Daily, Ariel Palitz, senior executive director of the Office of Nightlife (nicknamed as the “nightlife mayor”), stated: “The Office of Nightlife recognizes that New York City can be a challenging place for small businesses and that there are unique challenges in operating at night. We are working on several initiatives to help ease these challenges including convening an interagency task force to work with our sister agencies and find ways to streamline red tape and regulations to reduce the cost of doing business where we can.”

All images courtesy of The Spectrum.

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