Q&A – Levitt Pavilion Brings Free Concerts & Community Haven to Denver

Q&A – Levitt Pavilion Brings Free Concerts & Community Haven to Denver

By 303 Magazine

Levitt Pavilion opens summer 2017, and with it comes a variety of free live shows for Denver. The nationwide organization is constructing its next community music amphitheater in the massive 83-acre Ruby Hill Park. The South Denver park was historically a mill town along the South Platte River. Now, it’s mostly known for winter sledding and skiing—but not for long. It’s quickly becoming a haven for Denver’s community arts and so much more with Levitt Pavilion raising its foundations and the recent openings of both a children’s park and a bike park.

Working with local and national artists alike, the venue will enhance accessibility and outreach for many artists with no-cost summertime spotlights. Levitt Pavilion kicked off a preview concert series with Colorado natives Flobots, with the free concerts continuing through October with various musicians and comedians in Civic Center Park.

Comedy Line-up Added to Civic Center Concert Series

DENVER —Levitt Pavilion Denver and Sexpot Comedy have collaborated to add five talented and up-and-coming comedians to this year’s Civic Center Concert Series. The series is a teaser concert series featuring five FREE concerts in Denver’s historic Civic Center Park. It is an exciting prelude of what’s to come when Levitt Pavilion Denver formally opens in 2017 at its permanent location in Ruby Hill Park.

Levitt Pavilion Denver unveiled the five headlining musical acts last month and are now pleased to announce the partnership with Sexpot Comedy and the addition of the comedians to the shows.

Sexpot Comedy is responsible for more than 35 live shows each month in Denver, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. In 2015, Sexpot Comedy was named one of the five funniest nights in America by GQ Magazine and have received numerous other awards and accolades nationwide.  

The public is invited to bring their picnic blankets and lawn chairs to the free concerts—reflecting the casual, family-friendly atmosphere of all Levitt concerts.

Levitt Pavilion Denver announces free concert series

The Denver Post, Hey Reverb

Ruby Hill Park’s Levitt Pavilion Denver has announced a run of free concerts in anticipation of the venue’s unveiling next year.

The five concerts will be held on Fridays at 6 p.m. in Civic Center Park from August to October. Denver’s Flobots will kick it off on August 12, and Oklahoma singer-songwriter John Fullbright will close the series on October 7.

The concerts are meant to preview Levitt Pavilion Denver, which aims to host 50 free concerts every year from its projected launch in 2017.

The venue has not announced which artists it plans to book for its inaugural year.

“The artists were selected to appeal to a wide range of tastes, and they reflect the high caliber of talent that will be presented every year on the Levitt Pavilion stage beginning next summer,” said Levitt Pavillion executive director Chris Zacher in a release.

Ruby Hill Park amphitheater has architect, will open in 2017

By Joe Vaccarelli
YourHub Reporter

Denver has selected an architect to design an outdoor music venue in Ruby Hill Park, but it will open one year later than originally planned.

Denver-based Studiotrope Design Collective was picked by a design review committee to design Levitt Pavilion Denver on the north side of the 88-acre Ruby Hill Park in southwest Denver. The state-of-the-art amphitheater will host 50-plus free concerts each year consisting of national and local acts.

"We were kind of blown away by the work (Studiotrope) had done," said Chris Zacher, CEO of the Friends of Levitt Pavilion Denver. Zacher will book the bands to play at the venue. "It's an opportunity to work with a great team.


Levitt Park House Facebook 851 x 315_04-23-15_2.jpg

DENVER - Colorado Harvest Company presents a fundraiser for Levitt Pavilion Denver, featuring live music, a crayfish boil, silent auction and the opportunity to win two tickets to the sold out July 4th Grateful Dead “Fare Thee Well” show in Chicago, with travel package.

The event takes place Saturday, May 16, 2015 at 12 p.m. at The Park House, 1515 Madison Street, Denver, Colorado. $20 donation at the door is requested. All proceeds benefit the Levitt Pavilion Denver project. Tickets can be purchased at www.imbibe-events.com/crayfish

Each $20 donation includes one event ticket and one chance to choose the winning balloon containing two tickets to the sold out July 4th Grateful Dead "Fare Thee Well" show in Chicago. Travel package includes two round-trip plane tickets courtesy of Southwest Airlines, one night in a downtown Chicago hotel, and two tickets to the official after-party.

The event also features a silent auction to be held both online and as a live event. A link to the online auction will be posted at www.levittdenver.org on May 9, 2015.

Silent auction highlights include: VIP Red Rocks for Trampled by Turtles and Elephant Revival (VIP backstage tour and private backstage dinner for two), Live Nation tickets, massage and spa services, UMS tickets, a signed hockey stick from the Colorado Avalanche, fine art and jewelry, gift baskets and certificates, one week at a resort in Kauai, and more to be announced at the event.

Live music begins at 1 p.m., featuring: Chris Dismuke Music, Whiskey Treats, Zydecoasters , Dover Prose (headlining inside at night), with special guests the Colorado Blues Society Youth All-Stars

Chris Dismuke Music
Whiskey Treats
Dover Prose

With special guests the Colorado Blues Society Youth All-Stars

Purchase tickets here: http://www.imbibe-events.com/crayfish

Press Requests: Charis Denny, charisdenny@gmail.com

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.


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.