Music Moves Us

to come together and create change we are spending down

Press Release Spend Down Q&A

On November 30, 2023, we announced that the Levitt Foundation will spend down $150 million over the next two decades and will close in 2041.


By spending down our assets, 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.

Recognizing the power of music to activate underused public spaces and bring people together of all ages and backgrounds for a shared community experience, Levitt programs strengthen the social fabric of our country. Offering multiple opportunities for people to connect, Levitt concerts build social capital by creating a sense of belonging and place attachment, which in turn build trust and increase a community’s resiliency—leading to better health, public safety, and economic outcomes.

Quote Image

Levitt is about creating places where everyone is welcome… Music is the universal language and one of the most joyful ways for us to connect with one another and celebrate our shared humanity.

Liz Levitt Hirsch

Board President

In deciding to spend down, the Levitt Foundation is a rarity amongst arts funders. Traditionally, foundations are established to last in perpetuity, and in the U.S., foundations are legally obligated to spend only a minimum of 5% of their assets for charitable purposes each year. More recently, a small yet growing movement in philanthropy has taken root to spend down assets at an accelerated pace, realizing that resources are most impactful when used to support the needs of communities today. Founded in 1966 as a way for philanthropists Mortimer and Mimi Levitt to support the arts, culture, and education in New York City, the Levitt Foundation has evolved over the decades into a national creative placemaking funder. Board President Liz Levitt Hirsch, a passionate champion of music and social justice, has been instrumental in this evolution—supporting the Foundation’s mission to harness the power of free outdoor concerts to create social and economic impact in towns and cities across the U.S.

A seed that is not planted cannot grow, so the Levitt Foundation will multiply our resources as a catalytic funder, sparking additional investments in communities across the country for enduring social impact.

Sharon Yazowski


Quote Image

By becoming a spend down, the Levitt Foundation will increase 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.

Where we’re headed

In driving a national movement for free concerts in public spaces as essential to American life, the Levitt Foundation will significantly increase the number of towns and cities we’re supporting in the coming years. Our grantmaking will expand by launching new programs and partnerships, supporting nonprofits and changemakers to increase access and help create vibrant and equitable music ecosystems across the country.

We will also continue our investment in research and field-building initiatives that show the impact of music in community development and place attachment, including how Levitt programs increase social capital in communities and contribute to economic vitality—inspiring free concert series across the U.S. for years to come.

Our Spend Down Timeline

2019 - 2021

Exploratory discussions and reflections


Spend down decision shared with grantees


Public announcement of spend down

2024 - 2026

Development of pilot programs & new initiatives

2027 - 2036

Significant grantmaking & research phase

2037 - 2040

Grantmaking wind-down & learnings shared


Foundation sunsets


Free concerts continue across the country

More on our spend down journey