A 7,500-person amphitheater on Santa Fe will host 50 free shows a year
While Ruby Hill Park is a popular sledding spot during the winter months, starting June 2016 the park (near South Platte River Drive and West Florida Avenue) will be home to fifty free concerts a year. Work will begin on the 7,500-person Levitt Pavilion next spring.
"Our entire mission is to build a community through music and by providing free access to music," says Chris Zacher, executive director of Levitt Pavilion Denver.
With six Levitt music venues around the country in cities like Los Angeles, Pasadena, and Memphis (each of which are housed in refurbished '50s-era band shells), the Denver venue will be the seventh Levitt location in nation, and Houston is slated to open in 2017. Zacher says the goal is to have thirty Levitt outdoor music venues open in the next twenty years, and all other future venues will be brand new, built from the ground up.
"The goal is to have enough of these so we can route bands nationally," Zacher says. "We only deal with emerging artists. We're not playing in the same pit with AEG or Live Nation. That's not our purpose. We're a not-for-profit model."
According to the organization's website, "Levitt Pavilions is a national nonprofit that exists to strengthen the social fabric of America." It's the only national network of outdoor music venues presenting the largest free concert series in America. Each Levitt venue is managed and programmed by a local Friends of Levitt Pavilion nonprofit organization with support from the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation.
Zacher says the organization generally goes in cites with a population of more than 1 million that under-utilized park spaces or public spaces in the urban core. "They come to the city and put together a public-private partnership to build these concert venues to increase access to the arts," he adds.
Zacher says they've partnered with City of Denver, who are paying $2 million, and Levitt Pavilion Denver will be raising an addition $2 million for the project. One event to raise funds for the project is the Sounds of Levitt Benefit Gala at Ruby Hill Park on Tuesday, July 1 with a cocktail reception, dinner and music by Ark Life and Alpha Schoolmarm Orchestra. While tickets are $150, Zacher says every dollar will go back into the facility and making sure it gets built on time. Playing for Change, a band whose members are from various parts of the world and who are trying to increase access to the arts through the communities that they visit, will play a free show at the park on Wednesday, July 2. Both events start at 5 p.m. and end at 8:30 p.m.