A free, live music series could come to downtown Fort Smith if votes make their voices heard. 64.6 Downtown is in the running to bring a 10 -12-week live music series to downtown through a contest sponsored by the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation.
The national foundation is “dedicated to strengthening the social fabric of America through free live music,” a press release said. The Levitt AMP Grant Awards is matching grant opportunity created by the Levitt Foundation to serve small to mid-sized towns and cities with populations up to 400,000.
64.6 Downtown is competing for a 2020 Levitt AMP Grant Award. It needs votes from the community to qualify as one of the Top 25 finalists. Once the Top 25 finalists are selected through online public voting, the Levitt Foundation reviews the proposals and selects the 15 cities that will be 2020 Levitt AMP winner. The winners will be announced on Dec. 20, 2019. Winners receive up to $25,000 in matching funds to produce their free, outdoor concert series featuring a diverse lineup of professional musicians. If Fort Smith wins, the concert series will be held May through August 2020.
Selection to the voting portion of the competition is not guaranteed. 64.6 had to submit an application and provide proof of a community partnership within the city. 64.6 has partnered with the city of Fort Smith for the music series, said Talicia Richardson, executive director of 64.6 Downtown. If selected as a winner, the downtown free music series would run for 10 weeks and be held at the Riverfront Amphitheater.
“The No. 1 criteria is that the event has to be held in a place that is underutilized,” Richardson said.
Though the Steelhorse Rally, the Riverfront Blues Festival, the Peacemaker Festival, Ales for Trails and the Mayor’s Fourth of July Celebration are held in the Riverfront Park, there is still much more than can be done to bring people to the free, public park, she said.
“We want to highlight that this is a public area. People can just come and throw Frisbees or have a kickball tournament. It’s a public park. And with the skate and bike park and the trails, a family can spend an entire day there,” Richardson said.
If it is selected, the series will highlight specific genres: Americana, funk, R&B, blues and indie rock, providing concerts that are diverse and family oriented, she said.
“We want people to embrace live music in a venue downtown. If we get them down here, they can see what live music is happening in the (other) downtown venues and what those venues have to offer,” Richardson said.
The concerts and the schedule will not interfere nor be in competition with any of the typically planned events and festivals that use the park during the summer months. But before the concerts can be planned and the community can enjoy free, live concerts for weeks throughout the summer, the community has to cast votes.
“A successful campaign for 64.6 Downtown requires community participation to get as many online votes as possible to bring the concert series to town. Community support, as measured by the number of online votes received, will be one of the key factors considered when the Levitt Foundation determines the 2020 Levitt AMP Grant Award winners,” the press release said.
Richardson said people of all hues need to come together for the purpose of these getting this concert series grant, which “will bring the community together on a consistent basis.”
To vote, visit levittamp.org/vote from Nov. 1-20. Supporters will be asked to register before they vote.