Category Archives: Arts Access

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.

Experience museum collections from across the globe
As museums close their doors to the public, many are making their collections accessible online. From your couch you can take a trip around the globe, viewing world-class art from Paris to São Paulo via virtual museum tours from the likes of New York’s Guggenheim Museum, Washington, D.C.’s National Gallery of Art and Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum. And in place of in-person public programming, many museums are giving audiences access to exclusive content online, like the GRAMMY Museum’s archived artist interviews and the American Museum of Natural History’s recorded tours. For those who simply need a calming moment to balance out their news intake, check out #museummomentofzen (trending on various social media platforms) for a curated collection of relaxing artwork from museums around the globe.

Streaming performances across music genres
From opera to country to hip-hop, the options for free online performances are abundant right now. After cancelling their upcoming operas, New York City’s Metropolitan Opera launched the Nightly Met Opera Streams to “provide grand opera solace to opera lovers in these extraordinarily difficult times,” said Met General Manager Peter Gelb. For a robust list of philharmonics, opera houses and orchestras providing free streamed performances (and other quarantine-friendly entertainment options) check out this recent AFAR article. And with each socially distant day, we’re seeing more and more live performances become available. Yesterday, Billboard released a lengthy list of live streams and virtual concerts—including the next installment of “Together, At Home: WHO-Global Citizen Solidarity Sessions,” a virtual concert series created to help reduce feelings of isolation and anxiety by bringing people together through music. Several Levitt grantees are taking the same approach—like the Brewery Arts Center which launched the ‘Quarantine Concert Series’ this week, and CREATE Portage County which will be streaming intimate live musical performances via Facebook as part of its newly launched ‘Still Sessions’ series.

Communal artmaking (from afar)
Beyond presenting art, cultural organizations strengthen the social fabric of communities by providing places for people to come together, connect and express their creativity. We love the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fibers’ communal quarantine quilt project (which invites people to create a 12” x 12” section of a community quilt from home), and there’s also a plethora of interactive online dance classes becoming available, including the Debbie Allen Dance Academy and the Cleveland Ballet Conservatory. Cleveland Ballet Conservatory owner Kerry Skuderin is adapting to support students’ mental health, technique and sense of normalcy, explaining, “This is unknown territory, and we don’t know what is to come, but I have three children of my own and I know how much we need normalcy.” Online classes create a sense of structure for the students, as well the teachers/teaching artists—many of whom are now out of regular work and pay. Countless visual artists and musicians are following suite, offering students of all ages and abilities online lessons (including some through Levitt AMP grantee the Brewery Arts Center) and many art schools/universities are offering free college-level online arts courses, as well.

We’re so grateful to all the arts and cultural workers here in the U.S. and around the world for their continued commitment to building our local, national and global communities during this difficult time. COVID-19 has already had a devastating impact on the nonprofit arts sector. Click here to find out how you can take a few minutes to contact your local representatives to ensure these arts organizations can continue their work throughout and long past the current crisis.

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Last month, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) released Rural Arts, Design and Innovation in America: Research Findings from the Rural Establishment Innovation Survey. The report pulls compelling findings from data captured in the 2014 Rural Establishment Innovation Survey (REIS)—illustrating the economic impact of the arts in rural communities by identifying key patterns and relationships among arts organizations, design-integrated firms and business innovators in rural settings. We enjoyed this report so much, we created the infographic above to highlight a few of our favorite findings. Click here for the NEA’s full list of takeaways and here to read the full report. Continue reading

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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A still from the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s music video of a Beethoven Performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles. Virtual reality was used to remotely broadcast the concert with visualizations.

Have you seen the new virtual reality (VR) music video for “Ogilala” by 90s rocker Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins)? Or pop songstress Bjork’s exhibition of virtual and augmented reality videos promoting her new album? Or perhaps the LA Philharmonic’s VR music video filmed at a live Beethoven performance? These are just a few examples of how a once elusive idea in technology—interactive media—is quickly becoming a new frontier for creative production in music.

And interactive media isn’t serving solely as music accompanist; rather, it’s helping us better understand the musical experience as a whole and re-purpose academic research in music into something far more wondrous and accessible. Today, we’re highlighting a few instances at the intersection of music and interactive media that have caught our attention for their creative ingenuity and captivating approach. Perhaps most telling, they help us explore what it means to hear, interpret and love music from an entirely new vantage point. So grab your headphones, enter full screen mode on each video and immerse yourself in these sonorous experiences.

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  • "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

  • UN Habitat and Minecraft teamed up to create Block by Block, a community participation tool allowing residents in underserved communities to play minecraft and create project proposals that reconstruct unused public space in their communities.

Placemaking places people at the heart of its process—empowering individuals by giving them an active voice in shaping the spaces around them, mapping and designing their own communities. This week, we’re highlighting a few fascinating placemaking projects from around the globe that illustrate the beauty of people coming together and creating a shared vision for their community.

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Do you get together with your neighbors on a regular basis? If the answer is no, you’re not alone—according to a 2015 study, only 20 percent of Americans regularly spend time with their neighbors, and a third of the country’s population has never interacted with neighbors. At Levitt, we always encourage people to get to know one another, whether that’s through enjoying free concerts together or through other kinds of community-building activities.

That’s why we love the idea behind Neighborday, a holiday devised seven years ago by media company GOOD to inspire Americans to reach out to folks living next door and plan a communal activity. A block party is one idea, but GOOD offers several other creative ways to forge friendships and build community pride within our neighborhoods. Here are four activities that you and your neighbors can put together just in time for Neighborday on April 29!

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“Kaleidoscope of Dreams” by Canvas by Canvas (2015), created as part of the Star of Texas citywide art exhibition in Arlington, Texas; Levitt Pavilion Arlington/Founders Plaza (Image courtesy of the City of Arlington, TX)

This spring, 20 six-foot fiberglass stars will be brightening up Arlington, Texas, home to Levitt Pavilion Arlington, as part of the Star of Texas public art project. The stars—designed by local artist Chris Cunningham—each feature a different Texan artist’s depiction of the city’s new moniker, “the American Dream City.” Continue reading

LevittPavilionDenverCalling all Colorado-based artists!

Last week, Levitt Pavilion Denver released a Request for Qualifications seeking local artists for a public art project to be displayed at the new music venue, opening in 2017 at Ruby Hill Park.

Funded by Denver’s One Percent for Art Ordinance, the Levitt Denver project follows in the city’s long-standing tradition of celebrating public art. Since establishing its Public Art Program in the 1980s, the Mile High City has installed over 150 works including the Colorado Convention Center’s I See What You Mean (Lawrence Argent) and the Denver Performing Arts Complex’s Dancers (Jonathan Borofsky).

  • Also known as the Big Blue Bear, Lawrence Argent's iconic 40-foot high I See What You Mean sculpture peeks into the Colorado Convention Center's lobby.

Upon completion, the Levitt Denver piece will feature a design that speaks to community-based connections, music, the sky and other celestial themes. The selection panel is open to artwork in all media and materials, including light and sound, with the exception of 2-D artworks and murals.

For more details, check out the full RFQ and apply here by Friday, December 11.

It’s that time of year again. There’s a slight chill in the air and in just over a week we’ll be setting our clocks back an hour. Now is the time to soak up that extra hour of early evening sunlight! And what better way to take advantage of these final long autumn evenings than with a free public art walking tour?

You can enjoy the outdoors while discovering something new about your town (while experiencing some great art in the process). And the best part—these tours are 100% free of charge!

Levitteers, there are tons of exciting public art walking tours right at your finger tips waiting to be enjoyed. Just take a look at these fun public art tours taking place in cities where signature Levitt venues are located! Continue reading