It seems as if now more than ever, those within the local music scene are actively pursuing city help for the bolstering of local arts and culture in Santa Fe—more specifically a long-overdue look at the state of nightlife and music or lack thereof. With that in mind, it seemed at least a little important to check in with our three mayoral candidates to see what their thoughts on these issues might be.
City councilor Bill Dimas, a former member of rock/R&B act The Sprints, says that in order to address music and nightlife in Santa Fe we must look at factors such as DWI laws and public transportation.
"There is no simple solution or quick fix, but it would certainly be great to see more venues and more music," Dimas says. "The bar scene has changed in the last 20 years and the casinos have kind of taken over a lot of the entertainment." A lifelong resident of Santa Fe, Dimas does posit that many of the challenges facing local music have always been a factor.
"Many of these issues are the same as they were in the '60s," he says. "Ultimately, the city needs to make it easier for businesses to open and to operate and contribute to the nightlife, but this needs to be a joint effort between the population and the city to identify the areas that need improvement and face them."
Javier Gonzales has taken a more hands-on approach through a series of forum-like house parties. Gonzales estimates that by hosting around 40 events during 2013, over 1,000 unique guests of all age groups have been given a chance to discuss what they feel are local issues, and music and nightlife geared toward a younger generation are absolutely a priority.
"It's an issue that came up again and again, and we have so much opportunity to showcase the incredible arts and music and creativity of the 20- to 30-somethings," Gonzales tells SFR. "But in order to get there we need to figure out what it is that makes these people want to be here [and] I'd like to be working to create better jobs or access to affordable housing or even just an enjoyable social atmosphere in order to facilitate this growth."
Gonzales plans to look into utilizing existing locations such the Railyard or El Museo Cultural as places where live music can or should be thriving. Additionally, he is developing a plan for micro housing in prime locales as a way to encourage millennials to live in proximity to the places where they might practice their craft. "I have children who are 9 and 14," Gonzales says. "So I am very personally invested in doing what I can to make Santa Fe more inviting for young people and creating reasons for them to stay."
Longtime public servant Patti Bushee says she can easily recall a more vibrant Santa Fe as recently as the late '90s. "It used to be clubs like The Paramount and Alegria and Club West were providing lots of music but, in recent years Santa Fe has been an aging population much to the dismay of the younger generation…but some of the infrastructure I've been working on has been to draw a different type of visitor, a different generation of visitor," Bushee says. "I've been trying to draw these people in by working on things like biking trails and outdoor activities that have the potential to attract a certain cross-section of people into town who might be spending their money in different ways than just buying a few T-shirts."
Bushee believes (and rightly so) that even when there are clubs working toward the diversification of local nightlife, a population that wishes to utilize such venues is necessary and that avenues outside of, "if you build it they will come" thinking are pivotal to future success. In other words, we can't all just wish a great music scene into being without looking at the bigger picture and/or multiple ways to create a worthwhile environment for younger generations. Bushee also hopes to expand bus and Rail Runner service hours so as to make experiencing Santa Fe nightlife a safer and more accessible reality.