NYC Nightlife United Announces New Grant Recipients, Distributed Funds Pass $100,000

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– Bushwig
Drag queen Nina West performs at Brooklyn’s Bushwig drag festival on Sept. 7, 2019. The event is one of several to recently receive relief funds from NYC Nightlife United.

NYC Nightlife United, the emergency fund formed to benefit organizations and individuals across New York City’s nightlife scene in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, announced additional grant recipients Tuesday.

The fund provided $1,000 grants to several individuals, including DJ and producer Gavilán Rayna Russom, The Bunker New York DJ Mike Servito, Sustain-Release festival organizer Aurora Halal, venue EMT Danny Hertz, security professional Robert Fils-Aimé, burlesque performer Chanel Stone and lighting designer Kip Davis.

“Production crews have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, with the end not yet in sight,” said Davis in a statement. “This grant will be shared with my team for whatever urgent needs they might have.”

NYC Nightlife United recently announced the distribution of $30,000 in funds to drag and music festival Bushwig, electronic collective and talent agency Discwoman, producer Major Stage, theater production house New Heritage Theatre Group, bar and nightclub Now and Then and bar and community space Ode To Babel.

Funds distributed by NYC Nightlife United have now surpassed $100,000.

The latest round of grants come as venue operators continue to wait for the Small Business Association to open the application process for the Shuttered Venue Operator Grants stipulated by the Save Our Stages Act, passed by Congress as part of the broader coronavirus relief package in December.

While several states – both before and after the legislation’s passage – have provided state-level relief funding for arts venues impacted by the pandemic, New York has not.

“Other states and localities are more responsive to the needs of independent arts and culture venues and show a greater understanding of the specific struggles of our industry’s situation,” said Jen Lyon, co-chair of the New York Independent Venue Association (NYIVA), told Pollstar in December.

Ric Leichtung, co-founder of NYC Nightlife United and founder of AdHoc Presents, echoed the sentiment in a statement accompanying Tuesday’s funding update.

“New York hasn’t implemented any relief initiatives to save live music while local administrations across America have stepped up with programs like the $7.5M Colorado Arts Relief Grant, $7M Iowa Arts & Cultural Recovery Program, or Sacramento’s $6.9M Creative Economy Grant among many others,” he said. “New York City nightlife needs immediate support and emergency grants are essential in preserving its culture.”

“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,” said Ariel Palitz, senior executive director of the Office of Nightlife at the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, when NYC Nightlife United was announced last May.

According to municipal data published by the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment in 2017, the city’s live music venues support 25,500 jobs, $722.8 million in wages, $2.2 billion in economic output and $400 to $500 million in tourism dollars.