Levitt Foundation bridge grant to mobile concert to downtown Fort Smith

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 756 views 

Thanks to a 2020 bridge grant created by the Levitt Foundation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 64.6 Downtown will host a one-day mobile concert tour Thursday (July 23) in Fort Smith.

The one-day community-building engagement will bring a mobile concert to five locations in downtown Fort Smith providing an opportunity for diversification of audiences and communities, 64.6 Downtown Executive Director Talicia Richardson told the Central Business Improvement District (CBID) commissioners at the regular CBID meeting Tuesday (July 21).

“Because the Levitt Foundation really strives to bring communities together through inclusive events, they provided us with an opportunity to a bridge grant and with this particular bridge grant, they asked us to see what we could do to bring the community together in various forms promoting diversity, inclusiveness and things of that nature,” Richardson said.

The mobile concert experience will feature Little Rock’s Genine LaTrice Perez, a Fort Smith native, and her band performing 15-minute concerts on a flatbed truck at five locations. Perez will perform all original songs, no covers, Richardson said.

“We are coming to them. We want them to pull up their windows, sit out on their lawn chairs in their respective locations,” Richardson said.

The mobile-concert route will showcase local businesses and The Unexpected outdoor art gallery and will be complemented by free art activities. Organizers will strategically place sidewalk chalk in baggies at appropriately spaced locations to ensure with social distancing.
“We are basically asking children or even adults to write with the chalk positive affirmations, words of encouragement and words of kindness. Some people may just choose to do artwork,” Richardson said.

The concert tour will make the following stops:
• 7 p.m. — West Apartments, 4118 N. 50th St.
• 7:30 p.m. — North Pointe subdivision, 3408 N. Sixth St.
• 8 p.m. — Brunwick Place, 101 N. 10th St.
• 8:30 p.m. — The Bakery District, 70 S. Seventh St.
• 9 p.m. —Riverfront Skate & Bike Park, 121 Riverfront Drive

Masks are required and those attending must maintain six-feet social distancing and must maintain 12 feet from the performers and the stage, Richardson said.

“We don’t want anyone following us,” Richardson said. “We, before the mini concert, inform people if we see a number of people start to gather or congregate without masks, we will actually load up and keep it moving because we are taking this very seriously. We want to make sure if we bring people out in these various settings they are taking it seriously as well.”

The Levitt Foundation encouraged 64.6 Downtown to do something this summer to unite the community with music. Because the pandemic postponed many of the 2020 Levitt [Your City] AMP concert series, they began the bridge grants to make available up to $5,000 for Levitt AMP communities to keep building community in 2020.

“They are so clear on their mission. They wanted to make sure people didn’t lose sight of how important music was,” Richardson said.

The Levitt AMP Fort Smith Music Series set for this summer has been postponed to summer 2021.

“We don’t want the community or anyone to get this confused with the 2020 Levitt foundation AMP music series. The Levitt AMP Music series was 10 consecutive weeks of concerts that we were basically programming at River Front Park. Because of COVID-19, we did not feel it would be in our best interest, as far as 64.6 Downtown, was concerned to gather a large number of people, and we did not feel comfortable gathering our volunteer base together with the unknowns, if you will, and their experiences. So we opted to postpone that until 2021,” Richardson said.

The Levitt Foundation listed 64.6 Downtown as one of 20 recipients of the 2020 Levitt [Your City] AMP Grant Awards in December. The awards are a matching grant program made possible by the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation, a national organization “dedicated to strengthening the social fabric of America through the power of free, live music. With Levitt AMP, the joy of free, live music is bringing communities together in small and mid-sized towns and cities across the country,” the website states.

The Levitt’s program of permanent outdoor music venues presents more than 50 free concerts yearly in large metropolitan areas, but these grant awards are specifically designed for smaller cities.

64.6 Downtown was chosen as finalist in October. Online voting from Nov. 1-20 made them a winner. The music series will highlight specific genres: Americana, funk, R&B, blues and indie rock, providing concerts that are diverse and family oriented. 64.6 Downtown received $25,000 for the AMP music series. Those grant funds will remain available to 64.6 Downtown in 2021 without them having to go back through the voting process, Richardson said.

“The beauty of the Levitt Foundation is that they have permanent venues operating across the United State, so they know firsthand the impact on the Levitt AMP [City] Music Series grantees. As a result, they have graciously provided each city with the option to postpone their music series by moving their grant funding to 2021…,” Richardson said. “The Levitt Foundation is a stellar organization and has been a support for 64.6 Downtown through this entire process.”