With expansion to music and more, Julie Menin brings new era to MOME

With expansion to music and more, Julie Menin brings new era to MOME

With expansion to music and more, Julie Menin brings new era to MOME
December 19, 2016

In her first year as commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, Julie Menin has been responsible for guiding the agency into a new era, with an expanded portfolio of industries to cover. One of those new industries is music, and it did not take long for Menin, who assumed her post in February, to broadcast a clear signal of her office’s revamped mission, and bold new ambition. In November, reports surfaced that the city was engaged in advanced negotiations to bring the Grammys back to New York after a 15-year hiatus. The ceremony figures to generate an economic benefit of around $200 million for the host city. And then there’s the buzz attendant to producing one of the most watched television events in the world.

It’s important “to show New York’s primacy as the music capital of the world,” Menin told City & State.

Menin has many new fans in the industry. “Julie has done wonders,” said Jim Claffey, the president of Local 1 Stagehands Union. “We have hundreds of members who will benefit from her hard work if the Grammys come back to New York. Our members will benefit and New York’s whole economy will benefit greatly.”

“Julie has been working on this for a while, and when she asked me to help I had to say yes,” said Kathy Wylde, the president of the Partnership for New York City, a powerful business advocacy group. “The Grammys are something many of our members care about a lot and bringing it back to New York will promote New York’s global cultural leadership.”  

With the addition of music, as well as advertising, publishing, digital content and real estate (related to the creative services industry) to a portfolio that already included TV, film and theater, MOME now represents industries that account for 385,000 jobs in the city – more than the financial and insurance industries combined.Not surprisingly, Menin has had to rethink how the office can fulfill its mission, implementing strategies that capitalize on synergies between the city’s creative sectors. At the same time, she’s helped champion Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ethos of inclusion and access into new spheres. Menin has spearheaded five initiatives targeting the underrepresentation of women in media fields, including a $5 million fund for film and theater projects by and about women. By offering hundreds of free movie screenings and theater performances throughout the city, Menin has sought to increase access to the arts in all five boroughs. She has also unveiled the Made in NY Writers Room mentorship program geared toward young writers of diverse backgrounds, an initiative aimed at diversifying the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, and a $1 million grant to The City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism to support training for the city’s 350 community and ethnic media outlets.

“We want to make sure that those outlets have the best possible tools to compete in a tough media environment,” said Menin, who prior to working in government created and hosted an interview program (“Give and Take”) on NBC.

Last month, MOME rolled out NYC Film Green, a voluntary certification program for productions that meet a set of sustainability criteria.

With both the women’s initiative and the environmental initiative, we are the first government agency in the country to do programming of that nature,” Menin said.

Prior to joining MOME, Menin, a lawyer by trade, served as commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, where she carried out a number of high-profile initiatives, including the paid sick leave law, an earned income tax credit outreach campaign (which returned $260 million to low-income New Yorkers), and a pilot program, unveiled last month, designed to increase the number of low-income students with access to higher education by creating college savings accounts for kindergartners. Under Menin’s watch the department also slashed fines on small business by a third and launched investigations into Whole Foods Market Inc. and for-profit colleges.

Before she entered public service, Menin founded and ran Wall Street Rising, a nonprofit promoting economic development in lower Manhattan. She spent a decade working on the redevelopment of lower Manhattan and is widely credited for her leadership of that community in the wake of 9/11.

Even as MOME has broadened its sights, the TV and film industry continues to surge. Last year, 336 movies were shot in the city, along with 52 scripted TV series in the 2015-16 season – both all-time highs.

With other cities eager to follow in New York’s footsteps, the TV and film sector has grown increasingly competitive, and Menin acknowledges that the city must remain proactive in order to retain its edge. Though one key advantage, the commissioner pointed out, her hometown will never cede.

“There’s no city like New York,” she said.

Gabe Ponce de León