Crain’s New York Business: Met Gala rolls out the red carpet for the city’s economic recovery


May 3, 2022 12:36 PM


Fashion’s biggest night out drew some 600 celebrities, designers and creatives to the 2022 Met Gala Monday, in a star-studded evening that business leaders say sends the crucial message that the city is once again teaming with activity and economic opportunity.


The event, which raises funds for the museum’s costume institute, returned to its tradition of being hosted on the first Monday in May after two years of pandemic-induced delays—the 2020 gala was canceled while a scaled down version was hosted in September 2021. This week’s full-fledged return is a shot of optimism for New York’s business community, local leaders say.


“It’s economically important for the restaurants, bars, nightclubs that get business from it, but it’s also a jolt of confidence and excitement for the city’s social revival,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance.


“It’s all part of that larger economic puzzle that the city is putting together in its recovery from the pandemic,” Rigie added. “The Met Gala is one of those big events that influences that.”


That confidence, Rigie said, can create a ripple effect and spur other organizations to move forward with events or galas they may have put on hold because of Covid-19.


“The event spaces benefit, often people go to a bar for a drink after. They go to stores for new clothes, get their hair done, their makeup—it’s all part of a much larger ecosystem,” Rigie said.


Among those stalled events was the Red Carpet Hospitality Gala, hosted on Monday by the Hotel Association of New York City Foundation at the Mandarin Oriental. The proceeds from the event, which celebrated the reopening of the hotel industry and Broadway, support the association’s charitable work.


“The message behind the Met Gala, and certainly ours as well, is that the city is open for business and returning to close to normalcy,” said Vijay Dandapani, president and CEO of the Hotel Association of New York City.


The Met Gala doesn’t typically provide a surge of booking revenue for the city’s hotels, Dandapani said. It’s the international attention it brings that is an important lure for would-be visitors—tourists and business travelers alike, he said.


“It’s massively welcome,” Dandapani said. “It just attracts so much attention worldwide, and certainly helps broadcast that the city is back in business, and that will help attract events, like meetings and convention business, that will make a dent in revenue.”