We’re in a unique cultural position here, Santa Fe. Our City Council recently passed Resolution No. 2014-16, a five-page document sponsored by Councilor Peter Ives and former Councilor Rebecca Wurzburger that identifies issues and potential solutions for the boring nature of Santa Fe and provides a $5,000 stimulus aimed to spice up our nightlife.
The amount of money is admittedly small, but the opportunity to apply for funds and add to the nightlife/music landscape is, for lack of a better term, ripe for those interested.
The resolution states that our local labor force is growing smaller all the time, particularly for young people. It goes on to say that 1,000 residents will turn 65 every year for the next 25 years, and one of the main contributors to the dilemma is the lack of sustainable, exciting nighttime activities to entice and/or keep the youth in town.
Additionally, it says, the cost of real estate and musical and artistic expression outlets, alongside other basic economic issues (everybody is poor around here, and minimal job opportunities in Santa Fe ain’t helping) prove major obstacles to any sort of quantifiable change. To put it bluntly, everyone is jumping ship because the elderly, along with the greedy landlords and businessmen—not to mention a fundamentally flawed system of liquor licensing—is making it impossible for anyone to do much beyond get up and work at their shitty job and then go home and watch Netflix until it’s time to die. This isn’t news to anyone by any means, but the ideas outlined in the resolution will finally provide a weapon against the artistic doldrums.
The first step is to create the Nighttime Economy Task Force. Their role would be to sift through proposals in order to identify promising ideas.
These would then be presented to the Economic Development Review Committee, a board appointed by the mayor that makes recommendations to officials. A list of usual suspects for the task force has been suggested to the committee by the acting director for the Housing and Community Development Department, Kate Noble, who also works with the networking organization MIX. These names are not yet public, but Noble says that the best people for the job might also be the people who will apply for access to the stimulus.
“The task force is not selecting the projects; EDRC is,” Noble says. “It’s an advantage, and the experiences and learning of and from the selected projects are fed directly into the task force and inform their work.”
OK, these are great first steps, but how can $5,000 make that much of an impact? According to Meow Wolf’s Vince Kadlubek, “It is important to look at the $5,000 as a test stimulus meant to gather data for future, long-term investment strategies…the $5,000 was by no means allocated as a ‘fix-all’ solution.”
Kadlubek has expressed interest in both applying for some of the money and working as a member of the task force.
“In the short term, documenting the economic impact of a successful music show will give this trial run of stimulus the evidence needed to continue investing in a nighttime economy,” he says. “Even $500 is relevant to a promoter. It is the difference between accepting an agent’s offer and not.”
After Hours Alliance’s Shannon Murphy is in a similar position and says that diverse perspectives will likely play a vital role in keeping everyone involved—the community at large included—on point.
“Everything seems to be depressed and suppressed, and when people try to work on participation, it’s like swimming upstream,” Murphy tells SFR. “The task force working on these issues will hopefully foster an environment that will create an infrastructure that takes root.”
The ultimate question, however, remains the same. Though Kadlubek has a valid point about the money being a stepping stone, does throwing five grand at the issue really even begin tackle the multitude of issues that make up the bulk of the problem? Murphy brought up participation, which as any local promoter can tell you, is never guaranteed in Santa Fe, even when you do exactly what the people seem to want.
“On a larger scale, it’s nice to have [the money] but it’s a show; it’s only going to help a couple people do a couple things,” says soon-to-be Santa Fe expat Red Cell.
“It’s good that this kind of step is being taken, but we need infrastructure, not a couple of people doing a couple of things,” he continues.
There’s that word again—infrastructure. It’s not very sexy, but it is an area that will require focus in the coming months and years if this town is ever to get back on track. At the risk of beating a dead horse, clubs come and go, and 5K or not, people simply don’t have the same kind of money they once did to go out at night.
Murphy brings up the idea of kiosks dedicated to artistic promotional materials to be peppered throughout town, and its great. I would urge those who are cooking up proposals, as well as the task force itself , to think long term. Will it be worth it to blow all the money on a handful of shows that will surely be forgotten, or will you use this stimulus to slowly chip away at the overarching problem?