Musicians help envision new amphitheater for Ruby Hill Park

Colorado music industry professionals gathered at Denver’s Oriental Theater Monday night to voice their wants and needs regarding the city’s plans to build a new 7,500-seat amphitheater in southwest Denver.

The new amphitheater, which is scheduled to open in July 2016, will host 50 free concerts every summer and serve as a platform to support Colorado artists.

For the project, the city of Denver is partnering with Friends of Levitt Denver Pavilions, a Denver nonprofit supported by a national foundation called Levitt Pavilions, which hosts free outdoor concert series nationwide.


The Levitt Foundation Wants Your Input on its New, 7,500 Person Amphitheater in Denver

By Bree Davies Thu., Nov. 13 2014 at 4:19 AM

Back in June, it was announced that part of the Ruby Hill Park revitalization project was to turn part of the space into a 7,500-person ampitheater. In a public-private partnership, the City of Denver and Levitt Pavilion Denver (one of several philanthropy projects supported by the Levitt Foundation, which has established similar outdoor venues across the country) plans to open a concert and art space at the park (near South Platte River Drive and West Florida Avenue) in 2016.


This Monday, November 17 at 6 p.m. at the Oriental Theater, those involved with Colorado's music industry at large are invited to an open forum to discuss plans for the pavilion. Levitt Pavilion Denver has not solidified architectural plans for the venue as of yet, and would like musicians, promoters and anyone involved with the local music scene to share their vision for a perfect performance space.

See also: A 7,500-person Amphitheater on Santa Fe Will Host 50 Free Shows a Year

When Chris Zacher, executive director of Levitt Pavilion Denver, sat down with architects last year to start drawing up plans for the venue, he says found himself coming back to thinking about what artists might want. "I wanted to look at the facility from the artist's standpoint - I think that so often when these things are designed they are all about the patron, which is important, obviously." He shares that while it is imperative to create a venue with great sound, good sight lines and comfortable seating for the audience, Zacher wanted to know what makes a performance space great from the back end.

He's hoping that through the open discussion platform, artists will share things like what the structure of an ideal green room might look like, how wide and deep a stage needs to be to accommodate different kinds of acts and how best to make loading gear and equipment in an easy task.The venue is slated to host fifty free concerts a year, half of those being local acts. Zacher wants to also make sure the front-of-house is conducive to a great show for performers, regardless of the audience size. "It comes back to the artist -- how do you design a venue and not have the artists swallowed up when there is only a 1,000 people there?"

Zacher says that this evening of conversation will give the local music community a chance to share its ideas while also giving the Levitt Pavilion Denver an opportunity to introduce itself to the people it will be working with. There will be a short presentation on the future venue, information on how artists can submit to perform on future bills at the amphitheater and little more about what that selection process itself will look like. He sees the space as an incubator for Colorado music makers and a chance to use the network of other Levitt Pavilions outside of the state to promote and book local bands nationally.

"We really want this facility to speak to the people of Denver," says Zacher. "We want (artists) to understand that we're paying, on average, more than these local bands are making at other venues in town. When we talk about increasing access to the arts, especially from the artists' side, how do we take care of them and make them feel special and start to really foster a sense of community in Denver?"

Zacher says part of working with the community entails partnering with already established local music-minded programs and companies like Illegal Pete's and Greater Than Collective, which it is collaborating with to find a way to fund a hostel for touring musicians to stay in. Levitt Pavilion Denver is also working with Youth On Record to create a scholarship fund for its students, as well as develop a program where kids can have a chance to produce a concert each year at the venue.

Anyone interested in participating in the Levitt Pavilion conversation is welcome to join in this Monday, November 17 at 6 p.m. at the Oriental Theater. Musicians are also invited to bring instruments for a post-meeting jam session. The stage will be fully backlined (drum kit included,) so just a musical instrument is all that is needed to join in. For more more information on Levitt Pavilion Denver and this forum, visit the organization's website.

Be my voyeur (or better yet, let me stalk you) on Twitter: @cocodavies

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Levitt Denver is asking area musicians to help design pavilion

By Matt Miller

The Denver Post

Posted:   11/16/2014 12:01:00 AM MSTAdd a Comment


An artist's rendering of the Levitt Pavilion, which will be built in Denver's Ruby Hill Park in 2016. (Courtesy of Levitt Denver)

As Levitt Denver enters the next planning stage of its upcoming 7,500-capacity amphitheater in Ruby Hill Park, project managers want local musicians to help design it.

"You can have a beautiful amphitheater, but if it sucks for the artists, they're not going to want to come back," said Levitt Pavilion executive director Chris Zacher. "We're trying to increase access to the arts from both sides (patrons and artists)."

Levitt Denver is hosting an open forum Nov. 17 for the music community to get involved in the design of the pavilion, set to open in July of 2016.

Ever wish the green room in a venue was just a little bit bigger — with showers, a fridge? Or maybe the backstage area could be better organized to make load-in smoother. These are all suggestions Zacher is hoping to hear.

"It shows that what we're building is a cultural institution," Zacher said.

After getting input from the music community, Zacher said they will bring the ideas to an architect who will start working in early 2015. "We're going to listen to everything everyone has to say," Zacher said. "Obviously there's a line; you can't have pools and hot tubs. But when someone comes to us with a brilliant idea, we'll take it into consideration."


The pavilion will host 50 free concerts a year featuring local, national and international musicians, as well as five ticketed concerts a year with the budget to bring in acts equivalent to the Denver Botanic Gardens Summer Concert Series, he said.

The Levitt Pavilion Denver is a nonprofit organization working to strengthen communities through live music experiences. It is in a public-private partnership with the city and county of Denver. The city is providing $2 million to fund construction of the amphitheater. It is currently 80 percent funded and construction is expected to start next fall. Denver will be the seventh Levitt pavilion nationwide.

Zacher expects 200-300 people to attend the forum, which will also feature an open jam session for musicians and a chance for artists to win an opening spot at the Levitt Pavilion's debut concert.

Matt Miller: 303-954-1785, mrmiller@denver

Levitt denver music forum

Project managers are asking for suggestions from the Denver music community to help design the new 7,500-person amphitheater in Ruby Hill Park. The Oriental Theater, 4335 W. 44th Ave., Nov. 17. Free. 6 p.m.

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