Located on southeast Florida’s Treasure Coast (bordering the Atlantic Ocean), Fort Pierce is a small yet burgeoning city whose riches lie in its multiculturalism. The locale’s 48,000 inhabitants represent a true American mosaic, characterized by not just ethnic diversity—including large Black/African American and Hispanic/Latinx communities—but internationalism as well, with nearly one in six residents born outside the United States.
Fort Pierce’s arts scene is equally multifaceted, sculpted by the creativity of local artists of all backgrounds, and has served as a launching pad for numerous internationally revered figures whose artistic influence has swelled far beyond this southeastern town. From famed Harlem Renaissance author Zora Neale Hurston to Florida’s seminal landscape painter A.E. “Beanie” Backus (who was also a mentor of the Highwaymen, a collective of Black artists who, over decades, created dozens of paintings illustrating the Sunshine State’s natural scenery), Fort Pierce was once home to some of the 20th century’s most influential cultural visionaries.
A first-time Levitt AMP grantee, the nonprofit St. Lucie Cultural Alliance recently launched its inaugural Levitt AMP Fort Pierce Music Series, which continues every Sunday evening until November 5. With a mission to incubate the area’s arts and culture scene and create opportunities for local artists of all disciplines and backgrounds, the St. Lucie Cultural Alliance works to seed and sustain a strong creative economy. It is this ongoing journey that led the organization to apply for the Levitt AMP [Your City] Grant Award.
“Prior to the Levitt AMP Fort Pierce Music Series, there was an absence of cultural programming for our residents and visitors to enjoy,” explained St. Lucie Cultural Alliance Interim Director Dieulanie Claude, who is running the series. “Live music is a powerful tool, so we wanted to create an opportunity for our community to experience that—to bring their chairs, meet up with their friends and family, and gather in a safe, inviting environment.”
Claude, a proud first-generation American who has lived in St. Lucie County since she was a child, further noted that the Levitt AMP grant has enabled the St. Lucie Cultural Alliance to create a unique platform for local musical artists. “It’s very important to highlight our musical talent we have here in Fort Pierce,” she said. “Right now, we have initiatives for creatives who practice visual art, like dance, painting, and photography, but very few opportunities for our local musicians—so three years of Levitt AMP Fort Pierce concerts are definitely going to create that platform by giving these artists a chance to open for our renowned headlining talent.”
That headlining talent includes GRAMMY-winning multi-instrumentalist Marlow Rasado, jazz musician Tito Puente Jr. (yes, the son of that Tito Puente), and globe-trotting disco-folk sensation Cassie Taylor. And these are just a few of the nationally acclaimed performers set to rock the Levitt AMP Fort Pierce Music Series stage. The St. Lucie Cultural Alliance and its supporting partners (the county’s tourism division, its parks and recreation department, and Bluebird Productions) are working hard to ensure the first-ever Levitt AMP Fort Pierce Music Series not only meets the needs of greater St. Lucie residents but also mirrors the multiculturalism of Fort Pierce. Showcasing a sonic amalgamation shaped by members of the African and Latin American diasporas—such as urban jazz, Latin jazz, blues, disco, Louisiana Creoles’ Cajon zydeco, R&B, and salsa—the concert series features a wide range of genres that represent the majority-Black-and-Latinx community’s ancestral heritage.
The St. Lucie Cultural Alliance also anticipates that the free outdoor concerts will help boost the Fort Pierce economy, particularly for local businesses that have joined forces to bring the music series to life at the lush, oceanfront Museum Point Park—a public greenspace located just over a bridge from the city’s main historical downtown district. “With the large audiences we’re expecting, it’s definitely going to be beneficial for businesses in the area,” Claude said. “We have great support from our local sponsors that have been involved with the series, and we definitely believe that their businesses in the surrounding area will see increased foot traffic.”
By scheduling concerts on Sunday evenings, the Levitt AMP Fort Pierce Music Series will not pull focus from other local programming, which was important to the St. Lucie Cultural Alliance, explained Claude. “We wanted to make sure that we weren’t competing with any other community events that were taking place, because we really wanted the community to have a chance to come together and enjoy the music.”
Indeed, when it comes to fostering a live music environment where all Fort Pierce residents can experience joy, the St. Lucie Cultural Alliance makes inclusion a priority. After all, the whole purpose of Levitt AMP Fort Pierce is transformative and full community participation in the music series. “The change we’re seeing now is more value being placed on the arts,” Claude expressed. “We want to make sure we continue to highlight the value in the arts—both music and visual arts—and how art will only improve the quality of life for all residents.”
The 2023 Levitt AMP Fort Pierce Music Series runs through November 5, 2023.