Category Archives: Beyond Levitt

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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 this week’s government relief package includes direct support 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 newly launched 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

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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Today we celebrate the life and legacy of ‘daring dreamer’ and visionary American civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drawing inspiration from his faith and the peaceful teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and activist Bayard Rustin, Dr. King devoted his life to the fight for equality for African Americans and all victims of injustice. In his brief 39 years, the Atlanta-born Baptist minister organized countless nonviolent protests—including the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Birmingham Campaign, the Selma to Montgomery marches and the March on Washington—and founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which played a key role in the Civil Rights Movement. Named TIME’s 1963 “Man of the Year” and honored with the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. King became an icon of hope whose actions helped pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 1963, Dr. King shared his dream of a nation where his four children would “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” His courageous life continues to inspire and empower generations to bring his ‘daring dream’ to life.

Brulé at Levitt Shell Sioux Falls

November is National Native American Heritage Month. In 1990, this national month-long observance was created to acknowledge and celebrate the rich histories, diverse cultures and noteworthy contributions of indigenous communities. By leveraging the power of community partnerships and creative placemaking—the integration of arts and culture to engage communities—permanent Levitt venues have had the privilege of collaborating with Native American artists and organizations to help bring indigenous arts and culture into the spotlight. Read on to learn about the inspiring partnerships and performers that have brought indigenous arts to three permanent Levitt venues this past summer.

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In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month—taking place Sept. 15 – Oct. 15—we’re devoting today’s blog post to five (of the many!) trailblazing Latinx musicians who’ve shaped the landscape of modern American music. This annual observance was created in 1988 to honor the contributions, culture and histories of Hispanic and Latinx Americans. Today, Latin American rhythms, lyrics and instrumentation are staples in the popular American music repertoire. In fact, Latin music’s popularity increased so much in 2018 that it surpassed Country music in album consumption. And music industry professionals suggest that this trend is likely to continue. Today, we’re highlighting five legendary musicians who found success in the face of adversity and paved the way for this musical phenomenon.

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2019_summer-music-moves-2As summer draws to a close, music-loving moviegoers are invited to celebrate the lasting legacies of two of modern-day music’s most influential artists, The Beatles and Bruce Springsteen. Following a steady flow of music-driven film releases over the past year—from the Oscar-winning music drama, A Star is Born (October 2018); to the foot-stomping Queen celebration, Bohemian Rhapsody (November 2018); to Sir Elton John’s epic musical fantasy biopic, Rocketman (May 2019)—this summer brought the release of Yesterday (June 2019) and Blinded by the Light (August 2019).

Yesterday and Blinded by the Light put music front and center, with each film celebrating the prolific, award-winning catalog of an industry-shaping artist. Told from the fan’s perspective, the films invite audiences to rediscover the work of The Beatles and The Boss alongside its main characters—reminding us all of their musical genius and the universal appeal of their work. Read on to learn more about these two films and the timeless music that inspired them! Continue reading

  • Catching our breath to say hello: Summit Executive Co-Producers Vanessa Silberman and Sharon Yazowski of the Levitt Foundation with NCCP’s Andrea Orlando and Thomas Young
    Summit Executive Co-Producers Vanessa Silberman and Sharon Yazowski of the Levitt Foundation with NCCP’s Andrea Orlando and Thomas Young
Last week, nearly 200 creative placemaking strategists from a broad range of sectors gathered in downtown Los Angeles for the first-ever Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit (CPLS) in the Pacific region! Urban planners, architects, artists, government agencies, funders, nonprofit leaders (including Levitt partners and grantees!) and community organizers, amongst others, spent three days engaged in thought-provoking sessions, rich dialogue and knowledge exchange focused on how creative placemaking—strategically engaging arts and local culture to enhance and elevate communities—can help us address pressing social, economic and environmental issues. And in another first, the Levitt Foundation played a key role in Summit planning by serving as co-producers, with Executive Director Sharon Yazowski and Senior Director of Communications & Strategic Initiatives Vanessa Silberman leading the effort, alongside the amazing folks at The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking (NCCP) and ArtPlace America.

The Pacific Summit was one of five Creative Placemaking Leadership Summits taking place in different regions across the country in 2019, organized by NCCP and ArtPlace America, and supported in part by the Levitt Foundation. “We’re dedicated to building the field of creative placemaking, and have been greatly impressed with the work of NCCP as a supporter of their summits since 2017,” says Yazowski. “So when NCCP reached out to Vanessa and I, asking if we would take a lead role in planning the Pacific Summit, we immediately knew this would be an invaluable opportunity to highlight the role of creative placemaking as a cross-sector strategy to address issues specific in the Pacific region while deepening the conversation among funders and practitioners.”

The Summit’s theme of “Shifting Tides” focused on the Pacific region’s booming economy, shifting demographics and climate change, and attracted attendees from up and down the West Coast as well as from Alaska and Hawaii. Through seminars, workshops, peer exchanges and field workshops, attendees explored how creative placemaking can play a role in shaping the future to ensure equitable, inclusive, sustainable communities while giving voice and ownership to the people who live there. Other themes that were discussed included Keeping Places (embrace the people and cultural assets already within a place while welcoming newcomers and mitigating displacement and cultural erasure), Amplifying Voices (fostering equity, diversity, and inclusion), Weathering Storms (creative approaches to disaster relief, sustainability, and regeneration) and Supporting Movement (issues related to immigration, class mobility, and public transit). Thanks to NCCP and funding from LA’s Department of Cultural Affairs, partial scholarships were awarded to 60 scholars, ensuring that artists and small nonprofits could be part of the conversation.

The Summit was also a wonderful opportunity for attendees to learn more about the Levitt program through both learning sessions and a free concert at Levitt LA!  During a morning plenary, the team at Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles (Allegra Padilla, Director of Community Relations & Partnerships; Carla Contreras Cabrera, Community Outreach Coordinator; Matthew Himes, Director of Programming & Production; and Oliver DelGado, Director of Marketing & Communications) along with Yazowski, Levitt LA’s founding Executive Director, packed the room for an illuminating discussion on the intentional and multi-layered approach of Levitt LA to amplify voices in marginalized communities. The rewards and challenges of the Levitt Foundation’s hands-on grantmaking to deepen impact both from the funder and grantee perspective was the focus of another session led by Yazowski, Executive Director Patti Diou of Levitt Pavilion Arlington, and Executive Director Gina Chavez Hill of the Brewery Arts Center (Levitt AMP grantee) in Carson City, Nev. To top it off, Summit attendees danced the night away  at Levitt LA in the city’s historic MacArthur Park on Friday night, enjoying the energizing sounds of ska-rockers Viernes 13 and The Slackers while enjoying a picnic.

Additional highlights:

  • Hanmin Lius and Jennifer Mei of San Francisco’s Wildflowers Institute leading a thoughtful discussion on cultural mapping and the ways people self-identify as artists in unlikely places as a way to address issues around displacement
  • Annette Roth of the Washington State Arts Commission discussing the opportunities and challenges of creating cultural districts in rural communities
  • The City of San Jose’s Michael Ogilvie discussing the city’s interactive public art program, Illuminating Downtown, marrying art with tech to create a more engaging sense of place
  • Joanne Kim and Kristen Gordon sharing plans for LA’s Destination Crenshaw, an open-air museum along a transit corridor reclaiming and honoring Black LA set to open in 2020
  • In-the-Field workshops on Saturday to Leimert Park (one of LA’s most vibrant cultural districts), LA’s Japantown (fighting for its future through placekeeping), LA Poverty Department (arts group consisting of un-housed and formerly un-housed people) and Self Help Graphics (a cultural anchor in an evolving, historically Latino neighborhood)

As the field of creative placemaking continues to grow, evolve and deepen, we look forward to continuing our support of CPL Summits!  Next up? CPL is headed to Cincinnati October 10-12 to engage creative placemakers from throughout the Midwest.

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Looking for theatrical ways to incorporate the power of music into your summer? In the spirit of the recent Tony Awards, check out three of the season’s most talked-about Broadway musicals (two of which may soon be available right in your own backyard—Mean Girls embarks on its first national tour this fall, and Ain’t Too Proud will head out in July 2020!)

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EarthDayHeaderToday is Earth Day, so we’re joining the global community in celebrating the planet we call home. And what better time of year to celebrate? With flowers blooming, hummingbirds buzzing and this season of growth in full force, we’re surrounded by reminders of our planet’s abundant gifts! In honor of today’s holiday, we’re shining the spotlight on a few of the many projects across the country that celebrate the vibrant intersection of greenspace, sustainability and art, re-energizing communities and the natural environment.

Across the U.S., barren concrete riverbeds, abandoned railroads, forgotten bridges and other forms of unused city infrastructure are being transformed into vibrant urban oases. Los Angeles, Atlanta and Washington D.C. are a few of the many cities where city officials, organizations and community members are working together to incorporate sustainability and public art into exciting greenspace revitalization projects. Continue reading

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What better time to celebrate the valuable role public libraries play in communities than National Library Week (April 7-13)? These centers for community, culture and knowledge come in all shapes and sizes—from intimate local branches to monumental citywide destinations—and have the ability to enhance rural, urban and suburban areas alike. Perhaps this is why today you’ll find more public libraries than Starbucks branches in the U.S. (16,568 libraries compared to 14,718 Starbucks).

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