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

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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

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Even in times of looming uncertainty, music has the power to relieve stress, improve our cognition and help us feel happy. It’s easy to take these benefits for granted, but now more than ever, it’s vital to recognize the people who make it possible: musicians.

Across the country, concerts, tours, and festivals are being postponed or cancelled, leaving many musicians facing a devastating financial reality. On average, live events account for about 70% of an artist’s income — up from about a third in the 1990s — making the current situation especially dire. Just as communities come together to enjoy music, we can also come together to support artists and show how much we value their music. Here are three things you can do from home right now to help!

1. Merch, merch, merch!

With artists receiving an ever-shrinking cut from record sales, merchandise has become a significant part of their income — just one t-shirt sale can provide as much cash as roughly 6,500 Spotify streams, and a single hoodie can be worth more than 50,000 YouTube views. With in-person concerts on hiatus for the foreseeable future, artists are selling apparel, posters and more on places like Bandcamp and Instagram, including lots of exclusives from cancelled tours. Not only will buying merch help your favorite artists survive this crisis — it will also add a dose of cool to your wardrobe!

2. Chip in at virtual concerts

We’ve been beyond inspired to see artists from across the musical spectrum streaming free virtual concerts from their homes or studios. These intimate shows not only entertain us with amazing live music, but also provide us with a sense of community and togetherness that has been especially hard to come by lately. Most of these shows operate on a “pay what you can” basis, so if you can spare any amount of money, we encourage you to chip in, just as you would drop a few dollars in the bucket when you’re enjoying music on a Levitt lawn. We’ll continue to keep you posted about upcoming virtual concerts from Levitt artists and beyond in the coming weeks.

3. Support relief efforts

In addition to providing direct support to individual artists, you can also contribute to relief efforts that support musicians on a broader scale. The Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and the Recording Academy’s MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund, are all working on a national level, and similar efforts may be underway at a local scale in your community. Although this assistance will not be immediate, these organizations are working to help musicians at large recover from the COVID-19 crisis. We’ll continue to post information about relief efforts and resources for musicians in need of assistance. 

Even during these uncertain times, together we will persevere by recognizing our common humanity. We can’t wait to once again gather on Levitt lawns and see our favorite musicians doing what they love. In the meantime, let’s support them as best we can!

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.

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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.

We at the Levitt Foundation hope this finds you safe and well. Our top priority is ensuring the health and well-being of the entire Levitt community, including Levitt Foundation staff (who are working from home – hello videochat!), our Friends of Levitt partners, Levitt AMP grantees, and the hundreds of thousands of friends, families, neighbors, artists, volunteers, community partners, vendors, sponsors and supporters who bring the Levitt program to life every year.

People are at the heart of Levitt’s mission: bringing people together through the power of free, live music. At a time when we’d normally be marking our calendars for upcoming Levitt concerts and readying our picnic baskets and lawn chairs, instead we’re practicing social distancing and avoiding community gathering spaces. While the coming weeks remain uncertain, at this time, planning for the upcoming 2020 Levitt concert season scheduled to take place in 28 towns and cities across the country, remains underway.

Last week, the Levitt Foundation confirmed our commitment to Friends of Levitt nonprofit partners and Levitt AMP grantees, pledging our support regardless of how, or whether, their 2020 Levitt concert series takes place. In the event of any cancellations, the Levitt Foundation will support each of our Levitt venue partners and Levitt AMP grantees in their community-building efforts during this challenging time. For the most up-to-date information regarding the status of the Levitt concert series in your community, please visit the website and social media of your community’s Levitt venue or Levitt AMP concert series.

While we all remain hopeful that free music under the stars will continue as planned this summer and fall, the decision regarding each local concert series may be out of the Levitt venue’s and concert site’s control—should local, state or the federal government mandate the prohibition of public gatherings continue throughout the summer. Following guidance from their local public health authority, Levitt venues and concert sites may need to cancel one or several Levitt concerts. If a Levitt concert, series of concerts, or the entire series is cancelled in your community, your Levitt venue or local Levitt AMP nonprofit will make the announcement.

As so many can attest, the COVID-19 pandemic is stressful for arts & culture organizations, with many facing uncertain futures in the wake of closures and event cancellations. For Levitt venues and Levitt AMP concert sites, their 2020 concert series planning has been underway for months, and concert cancellations and postponements hurt each nonprofit organization financially. Given these unprecedented times, we hope local funders, sponsors and individuals will continue to rally behind their community’s Friends of Levitt and Levitt AMP nonprofits and show their support for these organizations who work tirelessly year-round to create joyful, welcoming and high-quality arts experiences for everyone.

We look forward to the time when we can once again gather as communities, especially on Levitt lawns, to celebrate the power of free, live music—building community through music.

graphic4Sunday is International Women’s Day, a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political accomplishments of women. On this day—and all throughout Women’s History Month (happening now!)—we celebrate the achievements of women around the globe and spread awareness of gender bias and inequality. In this vein, today we’re shining the spotlight on a few fearless females who have used their musical gifts to break barriers and help forge a more just and equitable world. Continue reading

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Last week, nonprofit leaders and arts advocates from 20 communities across the country joined us in Los Angeles for the 2020 Levitt AMP convening. A spirit of togetherness and collaboration permeated the event as this year’s cohort of Levitt AMP grantees explored the vision and values driving the Levitt AMP program through two days of conversations, presentations and interactive activities. Highlights included a powerful workshop on diversity, equity and inclusion led by an expert in the field; a brainstorming session on ways to make the concert series more eco-friendly; multiple panels where grantees shared their ideas and experiences; and a collective songwriting workshop led by GRAMMY-winning musician and activist Quetzal Flores that had everyone in the room unleashing their creativity (and singing voices!). Another impactful season of Levitt AMP concerts will be here soon, and we can’t wait to see how this incredible group of grantees will strengthen the social fabric of their communities through Levitt AMP in 2020!

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“Music’s Biggest Night” unfolded this past Sunday even as a cloud of controversy and grief hung over the Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles. Performances by artists of all stripes abounded, and by the end of the night, 18-year old pop star Billie Eilish had swept all four of the top-billed categories. Among the class of more than 80 newly minted GRAMMY winners, we’d like to extend a special congratulations to the  artists who have previously performed on a Levitt stage: Gary Clark Jr., Mariachi los Camperos, Sarah Watkins & Sarah Jarosz, Patty Griffin, PJ Morton, and Ranky Tanky!

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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.

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The 2020 Oscar nominations are in, and today we’re skipping straight to the music! Since the end of the silent film era, original music has been a staple of the movie-watching experience, and this past year of cinema introduced us to some truly memorable tracks. Read on to learn about each of the contenders for Best Original Song, and pick out your favorite ahead of the big day! Stay tuned for closer looks at some of the other movie-music categories in the near future. 

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