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New York Convenes First Industry Council to Address Challenges Facing Live Performances

New York has launched a new council aimed at addressing challenges to the city’s live entertainment industry.

On Monday, Mayor Eric Adams convened the inaugural meeting of the first-ever Live Performance Industry Council, which features a mix of leaders representing the theater, music and dance industries from the city’s arenas, cultural institutions, unions, nonprofit sector and city government.

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“Live performance has long been the heart and soul of this city,” said Adams in a statement. “By bringing together leaders from across the industry and city government, we are not only supporting the individuals who make the live performance industry great, but also ensuring that New York City will always be a global creative capital.”

The council, which is co-chaired by Ken Sunshine, founder of Sunshine Sachs, and Coco Killingsworth, vice president of social impact at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, is focused on developing measures to support and drive growth within the city’s creative economy as it continues to return to — and aims to expand beyond — pre-pandemic levels.

“This is truly a unique moment and the beginning of an important conversation about the vital ecosystem of the live performing arts sector — the live beating heart of New York City,” said Killingsworth in a statement. “We are why people come to New York City and, more importantly, we are why they stay, and this council will help us address some of the very real challenges but, also, enable us to think big about the next chapter for New York City.”

“I commend Mayor Adams for convening one of the most distinguished meetings of leaders in live entertainment ever gathered together,” added Sunshine. “We look forward to both big and practical solutions to the challenges we all face in producing live shows in our great city.”

Various city departments were present at the Gracie Manor meeting, including MOME’s newly announced commissioner Pat Swinney Kaufman, and other leaders from housing, economic development and workforce and cultural affairs.

Among the 52 members of the council are representatives from venues like The Public Theater, The Apollo, Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall; producers from Disney Theatrical, the Nederlander Organization and the Shubert Organization; sports and entertainment complexes like Citi Field, the New York Yankees, Madison Square Garden Entertainment, Barclay Center and Lincoln Center; guilds, unions and trade associations, including IASTE, Actor’s Equity, Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, The Broadway League and Off-Broadway League; alliances including Times Square Alliance, Asian American Arts Alliance and Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York; funds such as The Entertainment Community Fund and Theatre Development Fund; as well as various nonprofits like Bric Arts and the Black Theater Coalition.

The council comes four years after the New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment commissioned a cultural and economic impact study, a report that found nearly 750 venues and organizations generate $1.3 billion in economic output, over 8,400 full-time jobs and $512 million in wages.

The live performance group follows a growing series of councils created to address issues around and support the city’s entertainment community. That includes councils for TV, film and digital games, the Broadway Musicians Equity Partnership, an extension of the NYC Women’s Fund in Media, Music and Theatre and more.

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