Chris Zacher and Lisa Gedgaudas Receive Inaugural Cultural Leadership Award

DENVER – Colorado Business Committee for the Arts (CBCA) announces the winners of the inaugural Cultural Leadership Award. The Cultural Leadership Award recognizes outstanding alumni of CBCA’s Leadership Arts program who have made a significant impact on arts & culture in Colorado through a personal commitment to the arts. The initiative was spearheaded by the Leadership Arts Alumni Network.

2015 Cultural Leadership Award Winners

Lisa Gedgaudas (Leadership Arts 2009) – As the Create Denver Program Administrator for Denver Arts & Venues, Lisa works to develop and support Denver’s vibrant creative sector. She launched the Denver Music Summit, created the PS You Are Here neighborhood placemaking grant program, and is working on affordable housing for artists.  She serves on numerous committees to ensure creatives have sustainable and growing careers.

The most influential people in Denver entertainment in 2014

If you’ve spent any time in Denver, you already know about the beautiful rolling hills in Ruby Hill Park. What you may not know is that Ruby Hill is the future home to the Levitt Pavilion, a new amphitheater that is being created by a nationwide non-profit dedicated to bringing free concerts to communities across the country. Chris Zacher is the Executive Director of the Levitt Pavilion, and he’s at the forefront of this community-driven goal to make the performing arts accessible to everyone. The goal of the Levitt Pavilion is to produce at least 50 free concerts per year, and the musicians that will be playing those concerts will be paid as well. It’s being considered a game-changer in the local music scene, which is currently surviving in an environment in which bands play for bar tabs and parking fare. The Levitt Pavilion is a very exciting addition to the large venue options in Denver, ensuring that musicians’ work is valued, while also ensuring the accessibility of the arts for everyone, regardless of economic situation.

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.

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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 post.com

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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A 7,500-person amphitheater on Santa Fe will host 50 free shows a year

Denver Westword Blog By Jon Solomon

While Ruby Hill Park is a popular sledding spot during the winter months, starting June 2016 the park (near South Platte River Drive and West Florida Avenue) will be home to fifty free concerts a year. Work will begin on the 7,500-person Levitt Pavilion next spring.

"Our entire mission is to build a community through music and by providing free access to music," says Chris Zacher, executive director of Levitt Pavilion Denver. 

With six Levitt music venues around the country in cities like Los Angeles, Pasadena, and Memphis (each of which are housed in refurbished '50s-era band shells), the Denver venue will be the seventh Levitt location in nation, and Houston is slated to open in 2017. Zacher says the goal is to have thirty Levitt outdoor music venues open in the next twenty years, and all other future venues will be brand new, built from the ground up.

"The goal is to have enough of these so we can route bands nationally," Zacher says. "We only deal with emerging artists. We're not playing in the same pit with AEG or Live Nation. That's not our purpose. We're a not-for-profit model."

According to the organization's website, "Levitt Pavilions is a national nonprofit that exists to strengthen the social fabric of America." It's the only national network of outdoor music venues presenting the largest free concert series in America. Each Levitt venue is managed and programmed by a local Friends of Levitt Pavilion nonprofit organization with support from the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation.

Zacher says the organization generally goes in cites with a population of more than 1 million that under-utilized park spaces or public spaces in the urban core. "They come to the city and put together a public-private partnership to build these concert venues to increase access to the arts," he adds.

Zacher says they've partnered with City of Denver, who are paying $2 million, and Levitt Pavilion Denver will be raising an addition $2 million for the project. One event to raise funds for the project is the Sounds of Levitt Benefit Gala at Ruby Hill Park on Tuesday, July 1 with a cocktail reception, dinner and music by Ark Life and Alpha Schoolmarm Orchestra. While tickets are $150, Zacher says every dollar will go back into the facility and making sure it gets built on time. Playing for Change, a band whose members are from various parts of the world and who are trying to increase access to the arts through the communities that they visit, will play a free show at the park on Wednesday, July 2. Both events start at 5 p.m. and end at 8:30 p.m.

The City of Denver will maintain and own the building while Levitt Pavilion Denver will program the music. Zacher says there are plans for four or five concert series a year, everything from rock and blues and Latin music to world music while making it as family friendly as possible. Half of the fifty free shows a year will be Colorado-based musicians. Zacher, who has programmed City Park Jazz since 2006, says they probably won't do many jazz shows or have concerts on Sundays during City Park Jazz's season, as to not poach their customer base.

In addition to the free shows, Zacher says Levitt Pavilion Denver will do up to five admission-based shows a year with acts you'd more like see at Botanic Gardens rather than Red Rocks. When the amphitheater does open in 2016 it will be open grass seating. Instead of the for-profit model with tiered seating and VIP areas, Zacher says Levitt Pavilion Denver's "model is about bringing the community together, making it really diverse and providing an outlet for everybody being able to come. We believe that culture shouldn't be based on the ability to pay."

Zacher says the venue will be the first and only free cultural facility in all of Denver. "One of the things we don't have here in Denver right now is we don't have any outdoor concert venues in the city and county of Denver," he adds. "We've got one in Morrison [Red Rocks] and one in Greenwood Village [Fiddler's Green], but as a community we don't have any. We've got lots of these 2000 and 3000 seat indoor places but we're an outdoor environment. It's the one thing we've really failed ourselves on. So this is a great opportunity not just for the community to be able to have free music but for local and national musicians to be able to come in and play outdoor in Colorado."

While the Levitt Pavilion Denver will feature a number of local bands, Zacher says the venue will use local food trucks, breweries and distilleries. 

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Denver hopes Ruby Hill amphitheater will be a draw

By Jeremy Meyer, The Denver Post

Denver officials hope Ruby Hill Park on the city’s west side will become a regional attraction after the construction of a new amphitheater and a plan to host 50 free concerts every year starting in 2016.

“It is a super exciting thing,” said Councilman Chris Nevitt. “It will fantastic. Instead of being a neglected, ignored part of the city. I hope this will trigger a west side renaissance. … The Levitt Pavilion lets us make a fundamental sea change, changing the whole west side.”

The plan for the park was announced earlier this year, and now City Council must approve the cooperation agreement between the city, the national Levitt Pavilions and a local foundation set up to raise money for the pavilion.

The council also must approve a funding agreement for the $4 million project — $2 million from the Better Denver Bond program, $400,000 from the Levitt national program and $1.6 million to be raised by the Friends of Levitt Pavilion Denver.

The Levitt Pavilions is a foundation based in Beverly Hills, Calif., that contributes money toward performance venues across the country. Pavilions have been constructed around the country, including in Pasadena, Calif.; Memphis, Tenn.; Bethlehem, Penn. The foundation’s concept is to transform underused public spaces and turn them into destinations, “creating community through music,” according to Levitt officials.

Levitt has promised $100,000 a year for ongoing operational support of the amphitheater. The venue will host concerts year round, including “local, national and international acts,” according to a media release from the foundation. Some will be ticketed but 50 will be free in the naturally grassy bowl in the middle of the park.

“If you are going to build community, you don’t need seats,” Nevitt said. “Having it all be like a picnic is central to their concept.”

Chris Zacher, executive director of City Park Jazz who will be working to book the Levitt venue, said all the bands will be paid. Twenty-five to 50 of the events will feature Colorado-based artists, he said, “to give them a springboard and platform.”

The venue will be operated by the nonprofit Friends of Levitt Pavilion Denver. The city recently completed $4 million worth of improvements in Ruby Hill that included a playground and a picnic shed. The park runs from Florida Avenue to Jewell Avenue, along South Platte River Drive.

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Ruby Hill Park Getting Ready to Shine

By Vic Vela, Confluence Denver

 Photo: Confluence Denver

Photo: Confluence Denver

Welcome to Ruby Hill. The long underused city park is going through an extreme, culturally infused makeover that is expected to turn it into a Denver gem. It's quite a turnaround for a former landfill with a considerably lower profile than many other parks in the city.                

In the latter half of the 1800s, miners camping alongside the South Platte River, on high ground about five miles south of what is now known as downtown Denver. Instead of gold, they would often come across red-hued gems during their extraction efforts.

The area was named after the gems' bright coloring, taking on the name of Ruby Hill -- never mind that the minerals found were actually garnets.

Today the area's landmark is Ruby Hill Park, an impressive piece of land that's always had plenty of possibilities, but is hardly considered by folks outside of Denver -- or even by those who live here -- to be one of the city's top parks, if they know it exists at all.

But Ruby Hill's time to shine may finally be upon us. Nowadays, one could argue that the park is getting more attention than it ever has received before, even more than it did during the mining period generations ago.

The City of Denver is in the process of reinventing Ruby Hill Park as a potential companion to the nearby and uber-popular Washington Park. It started with the modest addition of a new pavilion, playground equipment and picnic tables, but the project will soon culminate in the creation of an urban mountain bike course and an amphitheater with capacity for 7,500 concert-goers.

So the city has big plans for Ruby Hill Park, a long-underused 80-acre gem that the Parks and Recreation Department sees as a diamond in the rough.

"Once we get this all built, I think it's going to be a big hit and a big success," says Kent Sondgerath, Senior Landscape Architect and Project Manager for the Denver Parks and Recreation Department.

The park nobody knows

The Ruby Hill neighborhood is bounded by South Federal Boulevard, South Platte River Drive, West Mississippi Avenue and West Jewell Avenue.

Its centerpiece, Ruby Hill Park, has been around since the mid-1950s. It has 80 acres of green grass to play on and its elevated position above the city offers one of the most serene and panoramic views of the Denver skyline and the Rocky Mountains in all of town.

But if you've never known any of that, you shouldn't feel too bad, because you're not alone.

"We were walking around Washington Park one day, talking to people about the city's plans for Ruby Hill Park," Sondgerath says. "Probably about 85 percent of the people we talked to had never heard of Ruby Hill, and it's only a couple of miles away from Wash Park."

The folks at Washington Park whom Sondgerath spoke with weren't the only ones who had never heard of Ruby Hill Park. Even those who are now playing a pivotal role in the park's make-over had to do a little bit of research.

"When I first heard someone mention Ruby Hill Park, I said, 'Where's that?'" says Chris Zacher, CEO and executive director for Levitt Pavilion Denver, the name of the amphitheater that will open in Ruby Hill Park in 2016. "I don't think that people realize that it's not much smaller than Wash Park. It's a big, big park that nobody knows about."

The area has an interesting history. Aside from once being a mining hub, the park's bluff had once been used by Native Americans as a lookout point. Then there's the part of the area's history that has posed challenges to the city, such as the fact that Ruby Hill served as a landfill in the decades that preceded it becoming a park. The landfill debris led to asbestos being found in the park's irrigation system, which has proven to be a costly hang-up for improvement projects.

But the asbestos-plagued landfill that the park once was is a distant memory. And, pretty soon, park-goers won't even be able to recognize it.


The phases of RubyThe picnic pavillion was part of the first phase of the park's improvement projects.

The initial driver of Ruby Hill Park's revitalization efforts turned out to be the success of the Ruby Hill Rail Yard, the country's first winter urban terrain park. The rail yard opened in 2007 and has become a huge hit with the community.

The rail yard's success made it a model for other cities that teamed up with ski resorts for similar collaborations around the country, according to Winter Park Resorts, which partnered with the Parks and Recreation Department and other entities to launch the rail yard.

"Our goal was to extend what we do up here for city communities, especially those under-served city communities," said Bob Holme, a youth marketing manager and terrain park and bike park operations manager for Winter Park Resorts.

Less than three years after the launch of the Ruby Hill Rail Yard, the City of Denver embarked on the first of three phases aimed at remaking the entire park.

Phase one began in the summer of 2010 and culminated with the improvement of several park projects the following year. They included the laying of 20 miles of irrigation pipes; the erection of a 150-person capacity picnic pavilion; the addition of new playground equipment; and the redoing of park roads, a dual-purpose effort that will allow access to the Levitt Pavilion and one that the city expects will cut down on cruising and other activities that local police are looking to curb.

Sondgerath says the price tag for the total cost of phase one -- which took into account asbestos removal, design and construction – was close to $5 million. About 75 percent of the funding came from bond money, with the rest coming out of city capital improvement funds.

The two primary projects that will be included in the city's phase two work at Ruby Hill will be the building of a grand promenade, as well as the creation of a mountain bike park.

A two-mile loop will circle the park and allow for gateway trails into a mountain bike skills course area. Right now, the state's only urban bike park is located in Boulder.

The addition of the mountain bike course excites Sondgerath.

"With the rail yard and now the mountain bike hill course, we have a lot of kids who may not otherwise have a chance to do these kind of things, who now will have that opportunity," Sondgerath says. "And, who knows? They may end up going up to the mountains and trying it there."

Phase two work will also include the addition of a 32-feet wide promenade, which will serve as the park's spine, allowing access through the park from Florida to Jewell Avenues.

Phase two will cost about $1.5 million and will be funded primarily by city capital improvement dollars and grants. It's expected to be completed by the end of next year.

The 'jewel of the city' Levitt Pavilion Denver will break ground on a state-of-the-art amphitheater in Ruby Hill Park in 2015.

The piece de resistance of the Ruby Hill makeover will come during phase three – an amphitheater backed by Levitt Pavilions, a national nonprofit that teams up with cities to provide venues for free music in urban areas.

The pavilion will be located in the park's bowl, below the existing picnic area, and it will provide more than 50 free concerts every year.

Zacher says that Levitt's entry into the Ruby Hill neighborhood will be similar to that of other efforts that the nonprofit has been a part of over the years.

"We provide a cultural infusion into a community that feels a little neglected by the city," Zacher says. Zacher also says that before Levitt amphitheaters erected in parks in Los Angeles and Memphis, the areas were underused and "were in bad condition."

"They had a problem with a park or a problem getting people to a park," he says.

Sondgerath says work on the amphitheater is scheduled to begin by either late next year or the early part of 2015, with the first concerts expected to be held in 2016.

Phase three will cost $4 million, with there being "a fifty-fifty split" in funding between the city and the Levitt Foundation.

"Our hope is that people see that as a great venue," Sondgerath says. "There's not a single outdoor permanent venue within ten miles of downtown Denver, other than the Greek Amphitheater at Civic Center Park.

With all of these new additions coming to Ruby Hill Park, it's no wonder that the people involved in its revitalization efforts are starting to get excited.

"During public meetings over last couple months, a lot of people have said that ever since the improvements started, they see a lot less issues of vandalism; before that, it was a constant problem," Sondgerath says. "We want people to see that were trying to make it a better place so they want to take care of it too, take pride in in and get some of that bad behavior out of there."

Ruby Hill Park will always hold a special place for Holme, who grew up in Littleton and who remembers sledding there when he was a boy. He's appreciative of the positive changes that are coming to Ruby Hill.

"For a city to be as progressive as Denver has been, and to open their arms to new ideas, it really speaks volumes," Holme says. "That park is going to go from something that's already special into a jewel of the city." 

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Coming Attraction: Levitt Pavilion

By Daliah Singer, 5280 Magazine

Outdoors concerts are on our minds this week as the Telluride Bluegrass Festival gets underway. There's just something special about whiling away a Sunday with a picnic and City Park Jazz or breathing in fresh air while guitar solos by your favorite band reverberate off the walls at Red Rocks. Soon(ish) Denver will have another open-air venue: The Levitt Pavilion Denver. 

Yes, it's a little early to get excited about a venue that won't open until 2016, but there's a heck of a lot to look forward to:

1) Construction (slated to start in 2015) is part of the Ruby Hill Park master plan, which will revitalize the spot into a more welcoming and functional area for residents. We already adore Ruby Hill for its sledding area and winter rail yard. The pavilion gives us another excuse to take in the 360-degree views afforded by the park's high elevation.

2) Levitt Pavilions is a national nonprofit dedicated to creating "community through music." The sole purpose is to bring people together and turn underutilized areas into "welcoming destinations." (When the Denver location opens, it will be the seventh in the country.) 

3) The best part: All concerts at the Pavilion will be free. Yes, free. Up to 7,500 people can pull up lawn chairs to enjoy 50 no-cost concerts a year, highlighting all genres and including local, national, and international acts. When the venue isn't being used for this free concert series, schools, arts organizations, and nonprofits can request access. 

Three years is a long time to wait, but we don't mind. Any organization that improves cultural awareness and access for all citizens is worth it.

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Levitt Pavilion Concert Series Will Take Center Stage At The New Ruby Hill Park

By Paul Kashmann, Washington Park Profile

 LEVITT PAVILLION STEELSTACKS IN BETHLEHEM, PENNSYLVANIA is one of six 
performance spaces sponsored by the Levitt Foundation offering 50 free 
concerts annually to urban audiences.

LEVITT PAVILLION STEELSTACKS IN BETHLEHEM, PENNSYLVANIA is one of six performance spaces sponsored by the Levitt Foundation offering 50 free concerts annually to urban audiences.

Those of you who have lived in Denver long enough to remember when winter’s snowfall was regular enough to allow for frequent frolics in the great outdoors, probably know Ruby Hill for its great sledding runs.

More recent arrivals to the Mile High City may make the trek to the southwest Denver park when the Ruby Hill Rail Yard returns for its (weather permitting) six-week winter run, inviting urban athletes to sharpen up their ski or snowboard chops on a base of manmade snow and a series of ramps, jumps and rails.

If you’ve not yet found your way to this 80-acre haven at the junction of S. Platte River Dr. and W. Jewell Ave., we’re thinking that could change in the not-distant future. Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR) is currently in the mid-stages of a three-phase redevelopment that will transform Ruby Hill into one of the crown jewels of Denver’s already quite impressive parks system.

The Ruby Hill Master Plan completed in 2006 is the guiding document for the work in progress. Phase One improvements, finished in 2011 with $4 million in Better Denver bond funding, focused on infrastructure basics, including a top-of-the-park picnic pavilion structure, a new playground and some 20 miles of new irrigation system.

DPR spokesperson, Jeff Green, told The Profile that the goal is to “activate Ruby Hill as an outdoor recreation destination.” In addition to continued playground improvements, upgrades currently being designed include removing the existing swimming pool and adding an interactive fountain/splash area, expanded walking trails, a mountain bike skills course and a skate skills area.

While these substantial changes promise to make Ruby Hill a more appealing choice for Denver families, an outdoor performance space slated to produce 50 free concerts every year could be the deal maker that elevates the park to the head of the pack.

Levitt Pavilions, a California-based non-profit that has helped fund and run performance spaces in six U.S. cities – Westport, Conn.; Bethlehem, Pa.;  Memphis, Tenn.; Arlington, Texas; and Pasadena and Los Angeles, Calif. – has announced a partnership with the City and County of Denver that will place the lucky seventh Levitt Pavilion at Ruby Hill.

A permanent covered stage and state-of-the-art sound system will provide the launching pad for a free concert series that will run Wed.-Sat., from May to September, presenting local, regional and national performing artists of all musical genres. There will be no permanent seating; the vision is for up to 7,500 people to gather on blankets and in lawn chairs.

Chris Zacher – music fans may know him from his years with the City Park Jazz series – is executive director of Levitt Pavilion Denver. Zacher explained that overall construction costs for the new facility are estimated at $4 million. Levitt is providing $400,000 in construction money, as well as $775,000 in operational funds over the first five years, and $100,000 per year after that, in perpetuity. The city is putting up $2 million in Better Denver bond money, leaving it up to Levitt Pavilion Denver to raise the remaining money needed to complete the deal.

At the May announcement of the agreement with Levitt, DPR Manager Lauri Dannemiller said, “Ruby Hill is a great park already. We’re continuing to unlock the hidden potential to make it a destination in its own right. We expect the Levitt Pavilion to be the centerpiece.”

The Levitt Foundation is named for and funded by monies set aside for support of the arts by its founder Mortimer Levitt, described by the New York Times in his 2005 obituary as “an irrepressible and outspoken patron of the arts who made a fortune selling custom-made shirts to celebrities, business executives, political figures and others who didn’t have to ask the price.”

His daughter, Liz Levitt, explained that, “The Levitt Foundation exists to strengthen the social fabric of America with the power of live music – to break down socio-economic barriers. Among our core values is accessibility to the arts. We want this to be a living room for the entire city.”

Zacher emphasized that the free concert series will focus on local musicians: “There’s so much local talent here, we want to give them the stage whenever possible.” Larger names do find their way to Levitt stages, with nearly a dozen Grammy winners performing for Levitt audiences in recent years.

Zacher is aware that bringing thousands of music lovers to the park presents its share of challenges. “We want to keep any impact on the surrounding neighborhoods to a minimum. Parking, security and toilets are the most important non-music elements of a concert. We’re working on a plan that will address these concerns.

“We certainly don’t expect 7,500 people to attend our shows right away. It took 23 years before City Park Jazz was averaging 2,500 people at its Sunday night shows. It will take time to build an audience.”

The Pavilion will be able to host up to five fee-based events per year. “We’ll probably start with one or two as fundraisers for the free series,” said Zacher. “We’ll also permit it out to groups that further our mission, be it symphony, opera or other appropriate organizations. Our mission is to bring arts to the underserved, and we’ll try our best to do that.”

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Solera National Bank Selected as Levitt Pavilion Denver's Banking Partner

LAKEWOOD, May 13, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE via COMTEX) -- Solera National Bank, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Solera National Bancorp, Inc. (otcqb:SLRK), today announced that Levitt Pavilion Denver has selected Solera National Bank as their local Denver banking partner. Solera National Bank and Levitt Pavilion Denver have a similar vision to build community through creative and diverse programming. While Levitt Pavilion Denver's mission is to build community through music, Solera National Bank's vision is to become one of the premier, independent community banks in Colorado by delivering banking solutions to meet the unique needs of small to medium-sized businesses, professionals, consumers and non-profit organizations. Further, Solera is striving to be top of mind for banking products and services to the Hispanic community and other minority communities in Colorado.

"Solera National Bank is thrilled to be aligned with the creative vision of Levitt Pavilion Denver. With the opening of the 7 Levitt Pavilion right here in Denver in 2016, and the importance of embracing the local community for services, support and talent, this was a natural connection for our two organizations to make," said Douglas Crichfield, President and Chief Executive Officer.

"Solera National Bank is a locally-owned and operated bank with philanthropic and community goals closely aligned with the mission of Levitt Pavilion Denver. Choosing Solera as our banking partner falls in line with our philosophy of working with local companies. We are impressed with Solera's dedication to serving not only the Hispanic and minority markets but also the local non-profit community. We believe that we have found the perfect banking partner," said Chris Zacher, CEO & Executive Director of Levitt Pavilion Denver.

About Solera National Bank - Solera National Bancorp, Inc. was incorporated in 2006 to organize and serve as the holding company for Solera National Bank which opened for business on September 10, 2007. Solera National Bank is a traditional, community, commercial bank with a specialized focus serving the Hispanic market. It prides itself in delivering personalized customer service -- welcoming, inclusive and respectful -- combined with leading-edge banking capabilities. The Bank is also actively involved in the community in which it serves. For more information, visit http://www.solerabank.com.

About Levitt Pavilion Denver - Levitt Pavilion Denver is a non-profit formed in 2012 to strengthen the Denver community through music by providing free access to the performing arts for people of all ages and backgrounds. Opening in 2016 the Levitt Pavilion Denver will be located in Denver's Ruby Hill Park and will be the seventh Levitt Pavilion in operation in the United States. For more information on the Levitt Pavilion Denver and to find out how you can be involved please visit www.levittdenver.org

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Attorney Joins Levitt Pavilion Denver Board

 Becky Seidel

Becky Seidel

Becky Seidel, an attorney at Leaffer Law Group, a boutique law firm serving Colorado’s charitable foundations and nonprofit organizations, has joined the board of Friends of Levitt Pavilion Denver.

Friends of Levitt Pavilion Denver, an organization dedicated to community building through creative placemaking and free access to performing arts, will break ground on a state-of-the-art amphitheater in Ruby Hill Park in 2015.

A unique partnership between the city and county of Denver and the national nonprofit Levitt Pavilions, Levitt Pavilion Denver is expected to be Denver’s next great outdoor concert venue. Beginning in June 2016, Levitt Pavilion Denver will provide 50 free concerts a year featuring local, national and international musicians, with an emphasis on creative and diverse programming.

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