Author Archives: Nicole McGaffey

The Levitt AMP Virtual Music Series fun continues tonight with an intimate home studio performance featuring Iowan country/blues/folk/punk fusion sensation William Elliott Whitmore. Tune in to see why this 2019 Levitt AMP Earlham Music Series fan favorite packed more than 750 people into Earlham City Park last summer during the city’s inaugural Levitt AMP Earlham Music Series—the largest crowd the park had ever held! Tonight’s new virtual show will be filled with energy and heart, much like Earlham itself.

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Photo courtesy of the City of Earlham

One-square mile of small town charm
Situated in an idyllic, rural setting about 30 miles west of Des Moines, the historic community of Earlham is home to 1,450 people where residents get to enjoy the pace, camaraderie and charm of a small town. Nostalgic and vibrant, this one-square mile community is home to both families who’ve lived there for generations and newer transplants seeking that “small town feel”—including many who work in Des Moines and reside in Earlham. Continue reading

Tonight, the Levitt AMP Virtual Music Series continues with a throwback to one of the most memorable nights of Levitt AMP Carson City’s 2019 season. Tune in to enjoy full concert footage of Tribal Celtic powerhouse The Wicked Tinkers delivering an exhilarating performance to more than 3,000 concertgoers from The Change Companies stage at the Brewery Arts Center. The virtual show celebrates Carson City’s communal effort to save a community treasure and transform an underused downtown into a thriving arts destination.

What a difference five years can make
Nestled just minutes from world famous Lake Tahoe, bustling Reno, historic Virginia City and the majestic Sierra Nevada mountain range, Carson City has aptly been described as “the centerpoint of your Nevada experience.” Boasting exciting new opportunities for residents to work, play and connect, it’s no surprise that the city’s population of more than 55,000 is growing larger and more diverse. Five years ago, walking down Main Street in Nevada’s capital city would have felt like a different street altogether. The city had just started work on the last leg of a new freeway linking Reno and Carson City. This new stretch of road would go on to increase regional and national traffic flow, and decrease through-traffic congestion through the heart of downtown Carson City. This pivotal infrastructure change laid the groundwork for Carson City’s historic downtown to become a more visitor and resident-friendly destination. With significant changes underway, the City had also just approved redevelopment plans for the downtown area, but the arts were not yet a part of the revitalization strategy.

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Historic photo of Carson Brewing Company; Courtesy of Nevada Historical Society

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This summer, Levitt AMP communities coast to coast are bringing the joy of free, live music straight to you with the Levitt AMP Virtual Music Series! The 20-concert series co-presented by the Levitt Foundation launches tonight at 8pm EDT/5pm PDT with a one-of-a-kind evening curated, produced and presented by the Levitt AMP Galva team. The virtual show will include intimate performances and interviews with acclaimed homegrown artists Chicago Farmer and Edward David Anderson, along with footage from a newly released mini-documentary about the Levitt AMP Galva Music Series—giving viewers a taste of what makes the rural town of Galva, Ill., such a vibrant place to call ‘home’ and why supporting the area’s creative economy is so vital.

A community-driven effort, decades in the making

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Nestled in Northwest Illinois, the 2,500-person community of Galva is one of many small rural communities that make up Henry County. Once home to an utopian-esque Swedish settlement, this historic and culturally-rich county has been shaped by agriculture, industry, Swedish artisan craft traditions, and, more recently…live music.

Bringing free, live music to Galva became a reality in 2018 with the inaugural Levitt AMP Galva Music Series, yet this community-wide effort has been decades in the making. For the past 30 years, the dedicated volunteers of the Galva Arts Council (GAC)—many of whom are still active—have worked together to position art as a community-building tool and have built a culture of volunteerism, laying the groundwork for the Levitt AMP Music Series to succeed. With robust experience rallying support for community arts experiences, like the launch of the GAC’s Coffeehouse Music Series in 1992, series organizer and Henry County native John Taylor saw the GAC as a natural fit to lead the Levitt AMP effort. Continue reading

The COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing reminder that there are many ways to stay connected while remaining physically distant. One new idea that we love is enlivening your porch (or balcony, front yard or stoop) as part of Porch Placemaking Week—which begins tomorrow, May 30 through June 5! Brought to life by The Experiencity Project in partnership with CoDesign Studio and the Town Team Movement (with support from global placemaking leaders like Project for Public Spaces and Places for Good), this weeklong celebration of place will ignite a network of small and large self-organized projects across the globe, with the shared goal of building safer, more connected communities.  Continue reading

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Humans are hardwired to respond to music. Imagine watching a thriller film without a tension-building soundtrack—would it be nearly as suspenseful? Or imagine trying to lull a baby to sleep with a driving rock song—would it be nearly as calming as a mellow lullaby? Music impacts how we feel and function by triggering our brains and bodies to become more alert or more relaxed. This makes music a powerful tool for regulating stress levels and feeling calm during challenging times.

With today’s ongoing public health crisis bringing a range of new challenges, we’d like to share five ways music can be woven into your daily life to help lower stress, boost your mood, provide comfort and promote better sleep. Continue reading

The devastation of COVID-19 has impacted just about every aspect of day-to-day life, including the way we’re called to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. With fewer cars on the roads and planes in the sky, many of us are seeing improved air quality and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. These changes are temporary and have come at a tremendous cost, but they speak to our collective power to impact the health of our planet.

While we’re physically separated right now, there are plenty of ways we can come together this Earth Day to celebrate and protect this remarkable planet. Here are five ways you can take action from your home.   Continue reading

Artmaking is proven to reduce stress levels, foster hope and build connection, so it’s no surprise that so many of us are embracing our ‘inner artist’ during this crisis. Creativity—in all its forms—can help make these challenging times more manageable. In a recent NPR interview, University of Alabama Birmingham neuroscience professor Christianne Strang explained that “creativity in and of itself is important for remaining healthy, remaining connected to yourself and connected to the world”—all of which are invaluable right now. Today we’re sharing a few heartwarming ways people are getting creative with physically distant communal artmaking. Continue reading

We’re filled with gratitude for all the selfless individuals working around the clock to keep our friends, family members, colleagues and neighbors safe during this global health crisis. Beyond our gratitude, these individuals also need our help right now. If you’re looking for ways to support and protect healthcare workers battling COVID-19 on the frontlines, please read on for suggestions. Continue reading

Last updated May 7, 2020

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With performances, festivals and tours now cancelled across the globe, many artists have lost their source of income for the foreseeable future. We’ve compiled a list of organizations providing emergency funding to artists who’ve been impacted by COVID-19. Please share these resources with artists and organizations that support artists in your community. While the historic CARES Act stimulus package includes direct relief for independent contractors, “gig economy” workers and artists, entrepreneurs, and small businesses working in the creative economy, it’s just the beginning of what’s needed. Artists—who give so much to so many—are going to need additional support to get through this crisis.

If you’re in a position to lend some extra support to help artists get through these trying times, please consider donating directly to one of the organizations below or through Spotify’s COVID-19 Music Relief project—which will match your donation dollar-for-dollar to provide a collective $10 million of support to a growing list of partnering organizations offering emergency art relief funds to artists. Continue reading

Last updated May 4, 2020

As we navigate this unprecedented time, people are turning to the arts for comfort, healing and ways to connect. Across the globe, artists and arts organizations are responding to the COVID-19 outbreak with innovation and creativity—providing ways for us to continue celebrating our shared humanity, even when we’re physically separated from one another. In the coming weeks, we’ll be shining the spotlight on the creative sector’s response to this crisis—and how it’s helping to make this uncertain time more manageable for us all. Today, we’re highlighting a sampling of arts organizations bringing you, your friends, family and neighbors a dose of culture to enjoy from the comfort of your home. Continue reading