Levitt music series to continue in downtown Fort Smith

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 728 views 

A $90,000 grant from the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation will allow a free outdoor music series to continue for another three years by the Arkansas River in downtown Fort Smith, according to 64.6 Downtown.

The foundation announced Monday (Oct. 10) it awarded the multi-year $90,000 Levitt AMP Grant to 64.6 Downtown. The award consists of $30,000 matching grants for three consecutive years to present a free outdoor music series at the Riverfront Amphitheater in 2023, 2024, and 2025, a news release said.

The Levitt AMP  Fort Smith Music Series has entertained hundreds with its 10-week summer music series for the last two years.

The family-friendly concerts at the Riverfront Park in downtown feature a variety of music genres and are designed to bring free, accessible and inclusive music to the community, said 64.6 Downtown Executive Director Talicia Richardson.

64.6 Downtown will present 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 were held on 10 consecutive Thursday nights from May through July. Richardson said this year, they were hoping to meet with volunteers to work on a schedule that would bring the largest group of concert goers to the amphitheater.

“In the past, we had the concerts on Thursdays so it would not interfere with live music offered at other venues downtown,” Richardson said. “This year, we want to work with the community to get ideas about what day of the week or weekend would encourage the best crowds.”

The idea is to use the concerts to show off downtown and bring more customers to the small businesses near the Riverfront Park, Richardson said.

“This year, we averaged around 150 people at each of the concerts,” she said. “We would love to double that amount. … Really use the series as an ambassador to 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: Amplify community pride and a city’s unique character; enrich lives through the power of free, live Music; and illustrate the importance of inclusive and vibrant public Places. All 18 returning Levitt AMP grantees were awarded $90K matching grants each to present the Levitt AMP Music Series in 2023-2025, reflecting a total grant award of $1.62 million, the news release said.

Since 2015, the Levitt Foundation has provided funding to 38 communities across the country through the Levitt AMP program, activating underused outdoor public spaces, ensuring access to the arts, and strengthening the social fabric of communities through creative placemaking.

“Emerging from the pandemic, we have all witnessed the importance of community and connection on our well-being, and free, live music in public spaces is a powerful way to bring people together of all ages and backgrounds. Expanding the Levitt AMP [Your City] Grant Awards into a multi-year, $90K grant and inviting additional towns and cities into 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 landscape of live music in its downtown while nurturing local pride of place and dedication to building a healthy and sustainable community.”