Strengthening Community Through Music
Picture it. Downtown sidewalks bustling with pedestrians, restaurant patios filled with diners, and thousands of music lovers gathered around a state-of-the-art music pavilion built on what is now a vacant lawn at Dave Hall Plaza at Fourth and Main streets.
Turning this scene into a reality is the motivation behind Friends of Levitt Pavilion Dayton, which recently helped secure the eighth Levitt Pavilion in the nation for downtown Dayton. An initiative of the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation, Levitt Pavilions help to empower cities across America to reclaim green spaces, reinvigorate public spaces - like the one at Dave Hall Plaza - and ensure that performing arts are accessible to all. The Levitt Foundation guarantees assistance with funding for 50 free, high-quality concerts a year for the next 50 years at each of its signature pavilions, in addition to aiding with start-up costs.
“Music and art have the ability to transform and bring people together. The connection made between the audience members and the performing artists can be deep and meaningful, ” said Sandy Bashaw, a local musician, composer and Friends of Levitt Pavilion Dayton board member. “This is why we were so excited to bring the Levitt Pavilion to Dayton. We know these concerts can be transformative in many positive ways.”
To support this effort, The Dayton Foundation has provided Friends of Levitt Pavilion Dayton with strategic support and a $150,000 discretionary grant. The group also established a Charitable Checking Account℠ (CCA) to handle incoming donations for the project.
“We couldn’t have launched when we did without The Dayton Foundation. Whether acting as a sounding board for ideas or through financial support, the Foundation has been a generous partner in this endeavor,” said Ellen Ireland, Friends of Levitt Pavilion Dayton board member and former Dayton Foundation Governing Board chair. “And, our CCA has made it so much easier to collect and acknowledge funds.”
“Music and art have the ability to transform and bring people together.”
-Sandy Bashaw, Board Member, Friends of Levitt Pavilion Dayton
featuring local and national music acts, to give access to music
lovers of all ages.
The Pavilion will host a wide variety of music and entertainment - including World Music, Latin, Jazz, Rock, Folk, Country and R&B - in order to draw diverse audiences from all over the region to the space. Past national and regional acts that have performed at Levitt Pavilions include 30 Grammy-award winning groups from a rich spectrum of music genres. Black Violin, a classical hip-hop duo who recently sold out performances at the Victoria Theatre and performed at last year’s Heisman Trophy award ceremony on ESPN, was a featured act for Levitt Pavilions three years ago. The hope is that Dayton’s pavilion will help launch local artists’ careers in a similar way.
When it’s not hosting concerts, Levitt Pavilion Dayton, described as the “living room for downtown Dayton,” also will be available to community groups as a performing arts venue. The project is part of “The Nine” redevelopment strategy, a 9-block area with 36 acres, 100 parcels and 2 million square feet with access to more than 5,000 parking spaces. Located just a few blocks from the Oregon District and Fifth Third Field, Levitt Pavilion is a creative place-making project that will anchor the south end of downtown to other amenities and revitalization efforts along the riverfront.
Though the project has received strong support from the City of Dayton and other generous donors, the group still needs to raise $550,000 toward its fundraising goal of $5 million in order to meet logistical timelines and begin lining up talent for its opening season in 2018. Efforts now are focused on engaging the public in this community-wide endeavor.
“We’ve come a long way, but we need help getting to the finish line,” said Jeff Ireland, board chair of Friends of Levitt Pavilion Dayton. “This is a unique opportunity not just for downtown residents, but for our entire community. It will bring a lot of foot traffic to the area, creating opportunities for new restaurants, light retail and housing to develop in that area and making cultural activities more available for everyone. It also gives access to people who may not otherwise be exposed to performing arts.”
Ellen Ireland added, “But most of all, it’s a family-friendly space for people from all over the region to come together in a fun, welcoming way and to strengthen our community through the power of music.”
Watch a video about Levitt Pavilion Dayton to learn more about this project.
To help support this effort, please consider a gift to the Friends of Levitt Pavilion Fund of The Dayton Foundation at levittdayton.org.
Good News is made possible by five Dayton Foundation donors and families who have stepped forward to become the Foundation’s 2016-2017 “I Believe!” Partners. Click here to read their stories.
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