Author Archives: Nicole McGaffey

Eleanor Roosevelt holding a Universal Declaration of Human Rights poster

Former First Lady of the United States Eleanor Roosevelt, chair of the drafting committee, holding a Universal Declaration of Human Rights poster in English. UN Photo (1949)

All too often, access to the arts is mistakenly labeled as a “luxury.” Here at Levitt we believe that experiencing art and culture in one’s community is essential to a healthy and happy life—it’s a basic human right. Interestingly enough, arts and culture are actually mentioned in Article 27 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which will be commemorated around the world this Sunday, Human Rights Day. Continue reading

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Brooks Museum’s Light Festival finale at Levitt Shell in Memphis.

Happy December, Levitteers!

It’s Friday afternoon AND it’s the first day of the twinkliest month of all—what’s not to celebrate? Whatever types of festive gatherings this month holds for you, your friends and family, we hope you find some calm during this busy season and remember to soak up every twinkly wonder surrounding you.

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Across the country, people are getting ready to pack their suitcases and hop on a plane, train or automobile to spend time with friends and family and enjoy a holiday meal with one another. Levitt Foundation Executive Director Sharon Yazowski has beat the Thanksgiving travel rush and is already on the road to Grand Rapids, Mich., where she’ll present takeaways from Levitt’s recently published white paper tomorrow at the 2017 ARNOVA conference—a convening of scholars, teachers, and practitioners from across the country who’re interested in research on nonprofit organizations, philanthropy and civil society. Continue reading

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Levitt Foundation Executive Director Sharon Yazowski presenting at the 2017 Grantmakers in the Arts Conference.

Yesterday, Levitt Foundation Executive Director Sharon Yazowski was out in the field with Slover Linett Audience Research President Sarah Lee, presenting an interactive session at the 2017 Grantmakers Makers in the Arts Conference in Detroit. Together they demystified the process of impact assessment, sharing experiences from Levitt’s own journey into the creation of a multi-year impact study with Slover Linett and giving professionals in the grantmaking community the tools and knowledge they need to embark on their own assessment journeys.

Inspired by yesterday afternoon’s presentation, today we’re releasing the fourth installment of our “Research Recap” blog series, featuring posts that highlight a particular finding from our recently published impact study. With tomorrow being Halloween—an evening where costume-clad celebrators take over sidewalks (some of the most common public spaces out there)—we’re focusing on the value of spaces where people of all ages can move around freely.

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Pictured above: Levitt’s Sharon Yazowski and Vanessa Silberman with Matt Kowal and Lisa Gedgaudas of Denver Arts and Venues in front of the Stax Museum of American Soul in Memphis, Tenn.

Today, Executive Director Sharon Yazowski and Senior Director of Communications & Strategic Initiatives Vanessa Silberman are representing the Levitt Foundation at the 2017 Music Cities Convention in Memphis, Tenn. (one of our nation’s great ‘music cities’!). They’ll be joined by local Levitt Shell Executive Director Anne Pitts and Levitt Pavilion Denver Executive Director Chris Zacher—who’ll be presenting at the conference. Continue reading

  • "The Bridge" by Elena Colombo (2011); SteelStacks Arts and Cultural Campus, home to Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks (Bethlehem, PA)

Sounds, colors and people fill a Levitt lawn, infusing a palpable energy into an underused public space. More and more, public art—whether it’s a temporary installation, a permanent mural, or an interactive sculpture, to name a few—is becoming part of the Levitt experience across the country. Below are some of the exciting ways Levitt communities have embraced the multidimensional power of the arts in public spaces. Continue reading

Levitt_loves_memorable_momentsThink back to a formative memory. Do you envision a full event from start to finish, or a few meaningful moments? Chances are, there are particular moments that stick with you over time, as explained in the newly-released book The Power of Moments, by Stanford Business School professor Chip Heath and his brother, Dan Heath, senior fellow at Duke University’s CASE Center. Last month, a couple of us had the opportunity to hear Dan deliver a stirring keynote at the annual Communications Network Conference in Miami—where among other things, he discussed what makes a moment memorable. Continue reading

Header-NADOLevitt Foundation Executive Director Sharon Yazowski is currently more than 3,000 miles north of our Los Angeles office, in Anchorage, Alaska—where this morning she delivered a plenary presentation at the annual National Association of Development Organizations Annual Training Conference. Using case studies from across the placemaking sector, including a selection from our own research, her session gave regional planning and economic development professionals from across the country a glimpse into the ways place-based initiatives, especially those involving the arts, can build social capital, strengthening communities in the process.

Screenshot 2017-06-16 14.24.54Inspired by this morning’s presentation, today we’re releasing the third installment of our “Research Recap” blog series, featuring posts that highlight a particular finding from our recently published impact study, and taking a closer look at “social capital.” The term refers to the value that is derived from existing within and being connected to social networks. While the term itself has been around for more than a century—and the practice, even longer—it’s becoming more prevalent in today’s lexicon, as more and more towns and cities recognize the importance of building a stronger and more cohesive community. Continue reading

Spotlight_Series_gaby_morenoGuatemala-born indie songstress Gaby Moreno will be bringing her warm, award-winning “Spanglish” vocals and guitar licks to Levitt Pavilion Denver this Thursday night. Her fusion of jazz, pop, R&B, Latin folk (and a whole lot of heart!) has delighted audiences across the globe, including those who attended her 2011 Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles performance. Her work has earned the respect of her peers, as well as a range of accolades—including a Latin GRAMMY Award, Emmy Award nomination and GRAMMY Award nomination. 

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