Mimi Levitt and Liz Levitt Hirsch at the reopening of Levitt Westport, 2014
In many parts of the country, the name “Levitt” has become synonymous with “free outdoor concerts,” “revitalized spaces” and “citywide destinations” open to all. And for good reason—in 2015, more than 400 Levitt concerts will be presented in 16 cities, bringing the joy of free, live music to hundreds of thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds across America, ensuring access to the arts and strengthening communities in the process. America’s largest free outdoor concert series is made possible, in part, by the generous philanthropy and forward-thinking vision of the Levitt family—the late Mortimer Levitt (1907-2005), whose humble beginnings inspired his lifelong love affair with free music under the stars, his wife Annemarie “Mimi” Levitt, and daughter Liz Levitt Hirsch. Since Mortimer’s passing in 2005, Mimi and Liz have taken the reins of their private family foundation, the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation, and have led it with aplomb, honoring Mortimer’s legacy while directing more than $18 million in grants to support the core Levitt program of outdoor music venues presenting free concert series, along with other meaningful projects that invigorate communities through the arts. Continue reading →
Have you ever found yourself wondering how Levitt Pavilions got its name? You’re in luck! Through fun, anecdotal snippets, our In Their Own Words blog series will introduce you to Mortimer and Mimi Levitt, and Liz Levitt Hirsch—the extraordinary people behind the Levitt Pavilions name.
The dapper and dynamic Mortimer Levitt (1907-2005) was not only a generous patron and outspoken advocate for the arts; he was also a leading clothier and creator of a men’s fashion empire of made-to-measure shirts. Born the son of struggling immigrant parents, Mortimer’s story is a genuine rags-to-riches story. By the age of 20, he had started his own business, selling custom-tailored shirts at $2.15 a piece, and by the age of 30 he had opened the Custom Shop, the first of what would grow to include 82 stores from coast-to-coast. Here he amassed his fortune crafting custom-made shirts for prominent celebrities, business executives and politicians. As you can probably imagine, Mortimer was a bold and impeccable dresser with flawless taste. He put his ideas to paper when, at the age of 75, he began a prolific writing career, completing five books on business, fashion and the intersection of the two. Continue reading →
Marking a new chapter in the history of a treasured music venue that sparked a movement across America, the original Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts in Westport, Conn., will re-open this Sunday as a brand new, state-of-the art complex. The new pavilion was made possible in part by a lead capital gift of $4.5 million from the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation—the largest single gift in the foundation’s history.
“We are extremely proud of Levitt Westport’s 40 year history and its beloved reputation as a community treasure, open to all,” said Liz Levitt Hirsch, president of the Levitt Foundation and board chair of Levitt Pavilions. “The new facility is a beautiful reflection of its special place in our hearts, and we’re thrilled that the Levitt Foundation’s lead gift is helping to ensure the joy of free, live music for the people of Westport and surrounding communities for decades to come.” Continue reading →