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The Latvian capital seems busy at night, Source: Riga Municipality

Riga might get a ‘night mayor’ in the near future

Riga might get a ‘night mayor’ in the near future

The city government is busy brainstorming how to organize life in the dark hours of the day

The deputies of the Riga City Council Committee on Security, Order and Prevention of Corruption got together on 22 September to discuss how to improve the nightlife dimension of local urban life. In this case, ‘nightlife’ does not refer simply to the night entertainment industry but to an overall concept about the management of the public spaces during the dark hours.

One big decision that came out of the Committee’s meeting was the prescient need to involve the private sector and NGOs in the exchange of ideas and policymaking for night-time city life management. Another idea that has been thrown into the mix was the creation of a ‘night mayor’ position.

Cities don’t sleep at night and authorities are taking that into account

Although many of us sleep at night, that does not mean that the world ceases to be there when we close our eyes. In fact, it seems unreasonable to treat half of the day as something akin to the dark side of the Moon or a ‘twilight zone’ when it comes to city management.

"We stereotype our notions of what nightlife is all about. The city today consists of the dimensions of space, society and time. And the time dimension has not been taken into account until now, so there is this offer - to start a discussion on what we can do for the good of Riga,” explained Laima Geikina, the deputy who proposed the initiative to develop a new nightlife concept.

According to her, the four pillars of nightlife are urban design, economy, culture, sports and entertainment, and security. Geikina emphasized that Riga has a good track record in organizing various night events, such as the "Staro Riga" festival, "White Nights", "Museum Nights" and others.

In her opinion, Riga needs such a concept, because during the night the city faces various problems, such as lack of lighting, lack of various activities, noise, insufficient transport and others.

‘Night mayor’ position: too exotic?

Commenting on the issue of introducing a new ‘night mayor’ position, which has aroused widespread public interest, Geikina pointed out that the ‘night mayor’ is not an alternative to the day mayor and the term should not be understood as the creation of a new post.

It will not be an alternative and will not require additional funding. We have a long discussion ahead of us, whether this position will be localized in the city administration or, as in other cities, it will be a matter for the NGOs. It will depend on the outcome of our discussions,” she added. 

One of the first things to be done will be the organization of a study to obtain data on which to base the development of the nightlife concept, as well as discussions on the nature of the nighttime economy.

At the same time, the members of the committee, expressing their opinion on the concept of nightlife, praised the idea and noted that there are many issues to work on, mainly how to revive Riga by adapting it to the interests of residents and guests.

It has already been reported that such a nightlife concept has already been developed in Bratislava or Mannheim. Vilnius has also worked on the concept. The policy concept of nightlife, for example, already exists in New York, where nightlife is divided into several categories - bars, catering services, arts and culture, sports and leisure.

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