NEW ORLEANS — You may remember during the pandemic when outdoor entertainment and outdoor dining were the only options we had. It's because the city relaxed its permitting process, giving venues of this type a lifeline. The question now is if the city allows outdoor entertainment to continue.
Nile Ashton, entertainment manager at the Rabbit Hole, said that booking outdoor events is expensive and that the permitting process needs to be addressed.
“Right now for me to have outdoor music, I need to file a special event permit request and the cost associated with that is a little bit prohibitive," Ashton said.
He said it costs him upwards of $200 every time he books an event.
“About $250 per event...I need to do an event that’s big enough that’s worth that. If I want to do an acoustic guitar player or a happy hour event, it's not worth it," Ashton said.
Andrew Tuozzolo, chief of staff for Helena Moreno, said that the ordinance will be location and time specific, with neighborhoods determining how many days a week and how late outdoor performances could go.
"Operating under a lot of COVID rules. So because of the COVID rules, there’s an issuance of special sort of permits for places to do outdoor entertainment,” Tuozzolo said. “Create these permanent outdoor opportunities, which is a neighborhood engagement process. Which will create a predictable set and times live entertainment will happen.”
“What this would do is allow some of those business places to continue hosting outdoor music in the future and would create neighborhood regulations to ensure they were neighborhood friendly," said Ethan Ellestad of the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans
Glade Bilby, President of the French Quarter Citizens, said the line isn’t clear, because right now residents hear music well into the morning.
“Music is important, we need that for our tourists to come because by and large the tourists are the ones who support the musicians, but we also need to respect the needs of the neighborhood and the residents of the neighborhood,” Bilby said.
“Maybe it's time and location-based, which will stop the music at a certain time, rather than brass bands coming on at 2 a.m. in the morning… everybody enjoys the music, but not at 2 a.m..”
Both sides of the argument said they do want outdoor entertainment and outdoor music. For them, it is just about coming to an agreement and understanding what that looks like.
The deadline for the council to decide is August 4, but the decision could come as early as next week at the council's regular meeting on July 21.