After- H(ours) – Access Equity and Opportunity in a 24-Hour Economy

By Adrian Tonon, Jabari Jefferson and Andre Reed

Photo Lil Monsterr


In many cases over the last several months, there have been numerous public servants who have partnered with businesses and residents to assist in creating best practices in a pandemic. Meet four leaders from the public sector who are championing a sustainable, equitable and responsible night time economy.


Denise Fair / Chief Public Health Officer / City of Detroit  


The Detroit Health Department prioritizes the health and safety of residents through education, communication, surveillance, and emergency preparedness. We do this by working in partnership with key stakeholders including the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Our primary mission is to build healthy communities where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. By providing businesses with guidelines that are straightforward and predictable, and through enforcement of those guidelines, this Department provides a pathway to success and achievement of revenue targeted to all businesses, including those that make up the night time economy.


Public health is front and center when it comes to communicable disease outbreaks and pandemics like COVID-19. We are counting on every business owner to follow orders issued by this Department to help keep patrons and the community safe. We want to see the night time economy flourish without risking the spread of COVID-19. The Detroit Health Department is working closely with other city agencies including CRIO (Civil Rights Inclusion & Opportunity), Detroit Police, Detroit Fire Department, Detroit Public Works, and the Building Safety Engineering & Environmental Department to support this goal. We have seen tremendous cooperation and coordination among City departments throughout the pandemic, as well as cooperation from local businesses, community groups and nonprofits. Overall, success means businesses can continue to operate, as long as they are in compliance with the order and guidelines issued from the Detroit Health Department.


Rochelle Riley / Director Arts, Culture and Entrepreneurship / City of Detroit


As Director of Arts and Culture for the City, I run an office called Arts, Culture and Entrepreneurship. It is that last word that ties my job specifically to our night-time creative economy. We have thousands of artists, gig musicians and others who work in an entire economy that functions at night. They are a vital part of our total economy, and their work is not a hobby. As the person charged with overseeing our investment in the arts, it means finding opportunities and support for all sectors of our artistic community. And the job grows as I grow and as I meet and work with more of our creatives every week, every month, every chance I get. The job also gets harder as we find the way forward from the pandemic. But it also means promoting and shining a spotlight on our best and brightest to help them attain national and global success. We are still Motown, a star-making city. We’re just Motown, 21st Century edition. The city’s job, in all aspects of our economy, is to find ways to provide opportunities for different groups of people to make successful livings. That includes people who work at night, whose work depends on what happens at night. It also means working overtime to ensure that our night-time economy is operating in a safe environment.



Xavier Cuevas ‘Barley Hispanic’ /  Media Services / City of Detroit 


As a visual artist I’m in the business of storytelling. Communicating messages, telling visual histories, and documenting the people and communities around us is the foundation of our work in Media Services. Amplifying the voices of those who normally do not have a platform to share their part is an inseparable part of everything we do. Equity and opportunity in our work is centered around visual content, which is one of the main means by which businesses, artists, and everyday people communicate. Therefore being deliberate about who we work with allows us to ensure we are amplifying the voices of those who need it most, while also providing them a quality product and telling their stories. It’s all about intention when selecting partners, clients, and collaborators.


Captain Jevon Johnson / Detroit Police Department 


The Detroit Police Department is tasked with public safety around the clock. We proactively meet with night time business owners, promoters, public officials and other stakeholders to flesh out strategy in order to keep the environment safe and responsible. Vibrant nightlife areas are proven to see a decline in crime when municipalities, communities, businesses and promoters work together for the common purpose of practicing good habits. One way DPD can create equity is by means of transparency amongst the community and by actively engaging. This creates space to build trust and opportunity to spark change.


Public spaces and venues are the convener of people. How can we curate spaces to not only entertain and inspire visually, but also serve as a catalyst or a pathway to mental health, jobs and other resources that will have the potential to uplift communities. Join us for the fourth series to hear from leaders who are working from the non profit and social work sector to champion awareness and tangible opportunity at the party.



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