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A Coalition of Advocacy Groups Are Meeting New York's Cultural Commissioner to Talk About DIY Venue Safety

They will meet with Tom Finkelpearl of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs later this month.

Alexander Iadarola

Image courtesy of the Dance Liberation Network

A coalition of New York-based grassroots advocacy groups are meeting with local government officials this month to voice opposition to the city's archaic Cabaret Law and other regulations negatively affecting DIY venues. Interdisciplinary advocacy group NYC Artist Coalition and activist organization Dance Liberation Network will meet with Tom Finkelpearl, Commissioner for the Department of Cultural Affairs on March 30 to present policy changes and discuss potential solutions to the issues facing these spaces. The meeting is being hosted by the Commend NYC record store, founded by RVNG Intl's Matt Werth, which has strong ties to the DIY community.

The meeting follows an initial town hall organized by the Cultural Affairs department in January to talk about how to protect DIY art spaces across New York. The Cabaret Law will be at the top of the agenda of the forthcoming meeting with the commissioner. Introduced during the Prohibition Era, the regulation which is still in effect today, prevents establishments from hosting dancing-related events unless they go through a notoriously challenging—and expensive—licensing process. Opponents believe that the law strangles the city's nightlife and the Dance Liberation Network is currently campaigning to repeal it.

In response to the deadly Ghost Ship fire in Oakland, the NYC Artist Coalition was formed in January of this year to provide support and advocacy for informal community spaces in the city. One of the organization's priorities it raise at the meeting with the commissioner is the need to ensure that the creative community has access to affordable spaces. They aim to achieve this is by protecting people's ability to live in spaces that are not currently zoned by the city for residential use. The NYC Artist Coalition also wants to work with the city to create tax abatements and other incentives for affordable spaces, as well as turn underused and empty city-owned spaces into performance spaces.

Since the deadly Oakland blaze that left 36 people dead, DIY communities across the country have feared a crackdown by the authorities on their venues. THUMP is currently keeping track of such closures with a real-time map, and readers can submit anonymous tips via this form.

The meeting has a Facebook event page, and will take place at Brooklyn's Market Hotel venue from 7–8 PM EST.

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