Category Archives: Beyond Levitt

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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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Here at Levitt, we’re firm believers in the power of free, live music to transform communities—especially when those concerts are taking place in the great outdoors. Why? Countless studies remind us why we yearn to be outside. Time in nature allows us to press a ‘reset’ button, triggering a wide array of health benefits from lowering cortisol levels (stress), to alleviating pain, to improving our mental health. Which is why today, in honor of Black History Month, we’re honoring the contributions of three of the many pioneering African American conservationists who’ve made a profound impact on our country’s natural environments. Each has dedicated their time and unique talents to protecting green spaces and ensuring that people of all backgrounds can enjoy nature experiences for years to come. Continue reading

BestOriginalScoreWith the 2019 Oscars taking place this Sunday, we’re providing you a little background on this year’s best films and the original soundtracks that bring them to life. Today, we’re exploring the contenders for Best Original Score, which range from Japanese-inspired soundtracks to epic, African theme songs. Read on to learn more about the composers and their music that earned nominations this year! Continue reading

2__best_original_song-_oscars_2019-_split-h_2019With the full list of 2019 Oscar nominees recently announced, we’re providing you a little background on this year’s best films and the original soundtracks that bring them to life. In this week’s post, we’re exploring the contenders for Best Original Song, which range from Afro-futuristic pop hits to old-timey Western tunes. Read on to learn more about the performers, musicians and writers who earned nominations this year! Continue reading


‘Tis a time of celebration and festive music—and with a plethora of movie musicals playing this season, you can experience both while cozying up with friends, family or loved ones at your local theater.

As we head into another holiday weekend, here are some fun facts about this season’s movie musicals and the vibrant soundtracks bringing them to life. Interestingly enough, each film takes viewers on a new sonic journey while paying homage to beloved pop culture icons of the past—both real and imagined—ranging from Queen’s dynamic front man to a magical nanny with tunes to cure any and all ailments. Continue reading