Nighttime economy task force

Buskers: Changing Nightlife in Montgomery County

The Montgomery County Nighttime Economy Task Force worked to identify opportunities to reinvigorate nightlife in Montgomery County, from livening it up with live music to adding cultural experiences that many can partake in. Their vision is “to develop creative placemaking opportunities and sensible policies that encourage an increased nighttime social life for residents, employees, and visitors of all ages and cultural backgrounds.” They wish to “enhance the sense of community” and provide experiences that an array of people will enjoy. Their four main goals are to enhance the nighttime economy with vibrant new features, provide many options from which residents can choose, attract businesses, employers, families, and individuals to activities, and call forth people from other districts to consider and enjoy all that Montgomery County nightlife has to offer. By stimulating the economy and creating an exciting environment, both the residents of the county and the government will benefit from all that the task force has to offer.

One of the latest additions to nightlife in Silver Spring and Bethesda are buskers: live street performers that provide entertainment for individuals in public spaces for money. The goal in mind is that the buskers will be lively, family-friendly, and supportive of a large audience. In large town centers with restaurants and shops, where many people gather, street performers such as buskers will be a fun addition to nightlife and will provide another option for participation.

Buskers deviate from the normal sounds of sirens, honking horns, and bustling traffic. They are an enjoyable way to bring Montgomery County together. They will attract pedestrians and bystanders from a large space. Buskers are commonly found in cities such as Baltimore, but bringing them to Montgomery County would be a nice change of pace from everyday life. They will raise the mood of the block and kick off nightlife. The Innovation program is currently working on designing a pilot and would like your feedback.

Would you be interested in buskers performing in MoCo? Let us know below!

Nightlife in Montgomery County

For the past six months, Montgomery County’s Nighttime Economy Task Force has been holding public meetings and discussions regarding nightlife in Montgomery County and how it can be improved. Residents gave their input on what they would like to see and experience to liven up nightlife and gain more County revenue from it. On October 28th, 2013, these recommendations were sent to the County Executive. The recommendations were categorized by department and improvements that involve each department.

Department of Economic Development:

-Develop a plan for marketing and attracting new companies

-Promote venues that pay musicians to perform

-Promote positive customer service

Department of Environmental Protection

-Establish Urban Noise Areas surrounding town centers to allow musicians to play for a larger audience

Department of Housing and Community Affairs

-More housing options

Department of Liquor Control

-Develop an educational Patron Responsibility Program.

-Extend hours alcohol sellers on Fridays and Saturdays to 3AM, and 2AM on Sunday-Thursday

-Modify the alcohol to food ratio under Class B licenses from 50/50 to 60/40

-Create a study with the Office of Legislative Oversight to improve the Department of Liquor Control’s services

Department of Permitting Services

-Make it easier to create an arts/entertainment venue or production

Department of Transportation

-Food trucks can operate after 10PM

-More taxis and parking

-Better late-night transit services

-Pedestrian and bicycle access

Office of Management and Budget

-Better public safety resources

Parks Department

-Allow public space to have multiple uses and attract people with design elements

Planning Department

-Incentives for allowing open space for arts groups or performers

-New zoning standards so public/open space requirements are easier to meet

-More density of people in popular nighttime areas

Police Department

-Decrease crime by using Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) techniques.

-Decrease drunk driving by extending “Safe Ride” all weekend long

Urban Districts

-Increase funding

-Maintain public spaces

-Dedicated revenue to events

The task force was made up of residents and business leaders and was staffed by representatives from the Department of Liqour Control, the Mid-County Regional Services Center, the Department of Recreation and the Chief Innovation Officer. Now that the recommendations are finalized, the task force will disband and the focus will be on implementing the recommendations. For more information on the task force and more detail on the recommendations, click here.