The Manhattan Association of Cabarets & Clubs (MAC) was founded in 1983, primarily as an organization for cabaret owners, managers, and booking agents to meet and exchange ideas. The organization started accepting performers in 1985.

MAC is currently a trade organization, designation 501C6, with a dues-paying membership. It differs from an organization designated a 501C3 in that contributions to MAC are not tax deductible.

MAC’s first president was Curt Davis who, upon his death, was succeeded by Erv Raible, co-owner of several New York piano bars and cabarets. Past presidents include Jamie deRoy, Michael Estwanick, Barry Levitt, Judy Barnett, Scott Barbarino and Ricky Ritzel. Its current president is Lennie Watts, appointed in 2009.

MAC’s mission is to advance the art and business of live entertainment. A trade association, its activities are designed to heighten public awareness of the field’s contributions and vitality, to honor its creativity, to build its current and future audiences, and to speak out as an influential voice on behalf of MAC members and the industry at large.

To help educate members to the business and behind-the-scenes aspects of live entertainment, MAC presents seminars and panel discussions on a variety of subjects. Recent topics have included: producing and marketing CDs, publicity, and using the internet as a marketing tool.

MAC serves as an advocate for its membership. At various times over its history, MAC has been an active participant in dialogues designed to change or overturn legislation adversely affecting New York’s community of performers and clubs. The MAC honorary board has included such greats as Joan Rivers, Kaye Ballard, Phyllis Diller, Jerry Herman, Liza Minnelli, Rex Reed, and Julie Wilson.

Since 1986, the MAC Awards have been presented by the Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs at an annual ceremony usually held in spring. Originally, MAC Awards were simply given by the Board of Directors to whoever they felt had made a contribution to live entertainment, whether a business person, local performer, dedicated critic, or cabaret luminary. Currently the annual Awards Show shines the spotlight on up and coming, locally established, and nationally recognized cabaret, comedy, and jazz performers, as well as behind- the-scenes professionals. Awards are voted by the MAC membership.

MAC in the newspapers over the years: