A $90,000 grant from the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation will allow a free outdoor musical series to continue for another three years along the Arkansas River in downtown Fort Smith, according to 64.6 Downtown.
The foundation announced Monday, Oct. 10, that it had awarded the Levitt AMP Multi-Year Grant of $90,000 to 64.6 Downtown. The award consists of $30,000 matching grants for three consecutive years to present a free outdoor musical series at the Riverfront Amphitheater in 2023, 2024 and 2025, according to a press release.
The Levitt AMP Fort Smith Music Series has entertained hundreds of people with its 10-week summer music series for the past two years.
The Family Concerts at Riverfront Park downtown feature a variety of musical genres and are designed to bring free, accessible and inclusive music to the community, said 64.6 Downtown General Manager Talicia Richardson.
64.6 Downtown will premiere the series in 2023 with partners the City of Fort Smith, Dream Alliance Foundation and Choctaw Casino & Resort, Richardson said.
In 2021 and 2022, the concerts took place on 10 consecutive Thursday evenings from May to July. Richardson said this year they hoped to meet with volunteers to work on a schedule that would bring the largest group of spectators to the amphitheater.
“In the past, we had concerts on Thursdays so as not to interfere with the live music offered at other venues downtown,” Richardson said. “This year, we want to work with the community to come up with ideas on which day of the week or weekend would encourage the best crowds.”
The idea is to use the concerts to show off downtown and attract more customers to small businesses near Riverfront Park, Richardson said.
“This year we averaged around 150 people at each concert,” she said. “We would like to double this amount. … really use the series as an ambassador for the community, to bring more people downtown for social and economic benefit. …and introduce more genres of music that might be unique to this area.
In May, the Levitt Foundation invited current grantees to reapply and submit proposals that would reflect the three goals of the Levitt AMP Awards: to amplify community pride and uniqueness of a city; enriching lives through the power of free live music; and illustrate the importance of inclusive and vibrant public places. The 18 returning Levitt AMP honorees each received matching grants of $90,000 to present the Levitt AMP music series in 2023-25, representing a total grant of $1.62 million, according to the press release.
Since 2015, The Levitt Foundation has provided funds to 38 communities across the country through the Levitt AMP program, activating underutilized outdoor public spaces, ensuring access to the arts, and strengthening the social fabric of communities through the creation of creative places.
“Coming out of the pandemic, we have all witnessed the importance of community and connection to our well-being, and free live music in public spaces is a powerful way to bring people of all ages and from all walks of life Extension of Levitt AMP [Your City] Grant Awards in a $90,000 multi-year grant and the invitation of additional cities to participate in the program was inspired in part by the positive impact 64.6 Downtown is having on the local community,” said Sharon Yazowski, Executive Director of the Levitt Foundation. “We look forward to the continued impact of the Levitt AMP Fort Smith Music Series, which has significantly contributed to the live music landscape in its downtown while nurturing local pride and dedication to building a healthy community. and sustainable.”