Getting Past the Stigma
By Shannon Murphy
It’s Time to Invest Meaningfully in Nightlife
As institutions across Santa Fe work to keep young professionals in the community, it’s worth taking the time to articulate something that is mostly self-evident to the younger generation: Nightlife is important.
Young people need more than just good jobs to be happy: They need fun things to do and places to meet friends and romantic partners. Nightlife is where the majority of younger people turn to fulfill these needs. But for many, after-hours activities carry a stigma: Nightlife equals alcohol consumption, and nobody who follows the local news needs to be reminded of the tragic consequences of drunk driving.
How can Santa Fe support young people in developing the social fabric their community needs without creating other social problems? The answer is to enrich after-hours arts and music programming to make our nightlife more about culture and less about getting drunk.
An increasing number of young, motivated entrepreneurs and not-for-profit organizations work tirelessly to put on after-hours events that connect the dots between young artists and young audiences. These organizations are in need of support: not only from audiences, but also from government and philanthropic funding sources.
Rather than stigmatizing nightlife, Santa Fe needs to lead other cities in supporting it, while directing concerns about drinking and driving toward a serious effort to provide safe, reliable, and affordable late-night public transportation.
Shannon Murphy is the coordinator for the Santa Fe After Hours Alliance. For more information or to learn how to support AHA, email afterhoursalliance [at] gmail.com.