What is the mission of the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation?
The Levitt Foundation exists to strengthen the social fabric of America. We partner with communities to activate underused outdoor spaces, creating welcoming, inclusive destinations where the power of free, live music brings people together of all ages and backgrounds and invigorates community life.
Who are Mortimer and Mimi Levitt?
To learn more about Mortimer and Mimi Levitt, please visit our History page.
What are the grant programs of the Levitt Foundation?
The Levitt Foundation’s primary funding areas include Levitt venues and the Levitt AMP [Your City] Grant Awards. During the past two decades, the Foundation has awarded more than $20 million in creative placemaking grants to support the activation of underused public spaces, such as neglected parks, vacant downtown lots, and former brownfields, into welcoming, inclusive destinations where the power of free, live music brings people together to create more equitable, healthy and thriving communities.
What are the main differences between Levitt venues and the Levitt AMP [Your City] Grant Awards?
Levitt venues are managed, programmed and supported by Friends of Levitt nonprofit partners that receive long-term funding from the Levitt Foundation, including capital seed funding to renovate or build a state-of-the-art outdoor music venue in a public space and significant annual operating grants; present 40–50 free concerts every year; and are typically located in cities with metro populations. Levitt venues are public/private partnerships in collaboration with the city, which owns the public space where the venue is located. The Levitt AMP [Your City] Grant Awards is a multi-year, $30K annual matching grant program awarded to nonprofits serving small to mid-sized towns and cities to reimagine underused public spaces through 10 free concerts during summer or fall.
Why are Levitt concerts free?
Music transcends boundaries, bringing people together for an experience that builds community and celebrates our shared humanity. And yet access to high-quality music performances is simply out of reach for many Americans. The Levitt Foundation believes everyone—regardless of one’s socio-economic circumstance—should have access to this powerful human experience, which is why we are committed supporters of free concerts in public spaces. Throughout his involvement with the original Levitt Pavilion in Westport, Connecticut, which opened in 1974, Mortimer Levitt was passionately adamant that concerts at the pavilion be presented at no charge. Nearly five decades later, the Levitt program nationwide provides access to high-caliber performances to 750,000+ families and individuals each year, many of whom could not typically afford arts and cultural experiences.
Are Levitt musicians paid to perform?
Yes! All musicians who appear on a Levitt stage are professional performers paid a competitive fee. They enjoy state-of-the-art sound and lighting and first-rate production crews, as well as warm hospitality and access to green rooms.
Why does the Levitt Foundation focus its programs on public spaces?
At their best, public spaces are places where everyone feels like they belong, regardless of their background or circumstance. The Levitt Foundation believes public spaces are key to equitable, healthy and thriving communities, which is why we support projects that activate underused public spaces to create inclusive and vibrant music-filled community hubs that foster a sense of belonging.
What is the Levitt Foundation’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion?
The Levitt Foundation has a sustained commitment to advancing equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in all that we do, as we strive to strengthen the social fabric of America, one city, and one concert, at a time. We know there is much to be done to combat injustice, structural racism and oppression, and we believe the arts, especially the power of free, live music in public spaces, can help bridge divides, inspire hope and strengthen communities. Our commitment to creating a more just, equitable and inclusive future for all begins internally, with our organizational practices, staffing and operations. In our grantmaking, we are reexamining our funding practices, processes and programs in order to broaden our support of organizations serving communities that are underrepresented and under-resourced, including but not limited to BIPOC, disability and LGBTQI+ organizations, helping to address historic and structural inequities. At the core of our work is a dedication to listen and learn from our Friends of Levitt partners, Levitt AMP grantees and other changemakers in communities and to support their work in creating more equitable communities and fostering a greater sense of belonging through free, live music. Learn more about our commitment to EDI.
Can my organization apply for a grant from the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation?
The Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation accepts grant applications for the Levitt AMP [Your City] Grant Awards, a multi-year grant program to present free concerts in small to mid-sized towns and cities serving populations up to 250,000. The Foundation’s other main program, Levitt venues, are long-term public/private partnerships with local Friends of Levitt nonprofit partners and the City, bringing free concerts to large metro areas. If you’re interested in bringing a Levitt venue to your city, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Does the Levitt Foundation conduct research?
Yes. Reflecting the Levitt Foundation’s commitment to ongoing self-reflection, as well as contributing to the field of creative placemaking, we commission third-party, multi-year research to evaluate the social impact of Levitt programs in communities across the country, collaborating with grantees for collective learning. We have published two white papers based on study findings: Listening to the Music of Community Change: Findings from a Pre/Post Research Study at Levitt Pavilion Denver (2021) and Setting the Stage for Community Change: Reflecting on Creative Placemaking Outcomes (2016). Learn more on our Research page.
What is creative placemaking?
Creative placemaking integrates the arts, culture, and design activities into efforts that strengthen and elevate the overall well-being of communities. At the core of creative placemaking are partnerships across sectors, deeply engaging the community, alongside artists, designers and culture bearers to help advance local economic, physical, and/or social change, ultimately laying the groundwork for systems change.
What is the artist booking process for Levitt venues and Levitt AMP sites?
Thank you for your interest in booking a performance with Levitt. Each Levitt venue and Levitt AMP site is programmed by a local, independent nonprofit. For details, visit Artist booking.
Why is the Levitt Foundation spending down its assets?
On November 30, 2023, we announced that the Levitt Foundation will spend down $150 million in assets over the next two decades and will close in 2041. By spending down, we are accelerating the Foundation’s ability to support thousands of free outdoor concerts in communities across America, fueling the movement for free live music in public spaces as a key driver for equitable, healthy, and thriving communities.
As a spend down, the Levitt Foundation is increasing the number of communities receiving grants for free concerts in public spaces and will continue to nurture the Levitt network of nonprofit venues and concert sites with additional support—including capacity building and robust resources to ensure their free concert series continue beyond our sunset. More than half of the communities no longer receiving Levitt funding continue to present free outdoor concerts; strong evidence that the Levitt Foundation’s funding is leveraged for sustained community support.
To learn more, please visit our Spend Down page.
When will the Levitt Foundation cease operations?
The Levitt Foundation will close its doors in 2041. Beyond the Foundation’s sunset, free Levitt concerts will continue as Levitt venues and concert sites are integral parts of community life, locally realized by dedicated individuals and organizations committed to their series flourishing for decades to come.
How does the Levitt Foundation’s spend down impact Levitt venues?
The Foundation is a long-term partner of the Friends of Levitt nonprofits operating Levitt venues across the country. Each Levitt venue is an independent nonprofit that relies in major part on support and donations from their community, including individuals, local businesses, and other foundations. The Levitt Foundation’s partnership and financial support, while significant, is only part of each Levitt venue’s annual operating budget; the majority of each venue’s funding already comes from the local community.
By announcing our decision nearly two decades prior to the Foundation’s sunset, we have sought to give our Friends of Levitt nonprofit partners ample time to build up additional sources of support to continue free concerts at their locations for decades to come. As coveted community anchors, Levitt venues have inspired support from audiences, community members, local businesses, and other funders who care about access to the arts and understand the dynamic social and economic impact of community gathering spaces where everyone is welcome.
On that note, donating to or sponsoring your local Levitt venue is a great way to support your community! Each venue offers great recognition and sponsorship opportunities, both on the lawn during the concert season and throughout the year at off-season events and online programming. To learn how to support your local Levitt venue, visit our Support Local page.