April is Earth Month, an important annual reminder to celebrate and protect this planet we call home. Whether that’s by recycling, choosing reusable over single-use items, or deploying energy-efficient LED lights, small steps add up to create a greener world. Here at the Levitt Foundation, we’re committed to building healthy, equitable, and thriving communities with active and verdant public spaces at their cores. In honor of Earth Month, we’re sharing just a few of the creative ways Levitt venues and Levitt AMP sites promote sustainability, both onstage and off.
Efficiently Energizing Levitt AMP Sheboygan’s Food Trucks & Lighting
Across the nation, food trucks dot Levitt lawns, giving local businesses an opportunity to share their cuisine—and Levitt audiences a chance to enjoy delicious local eats. As mobile kitchens with cooking, heating, cooling, and lighting requirements, however, food trucks also come with substantial energy needs.
In Wisconsin, the Levitt AMP Sheboygan team is doing its part by connecting the venue’s food trucks to provided “shore” power during the music series, instead of relying on the vehicles’ engines or onboard generators. Provided power from the city’s existing electrical grid eliminates the need for food trucks to refuel, reduces the amount of exhaust being emitted locally into the air, and decreases noise pollution from loud generators. It’s beneficial for the environment—particularly as the country’s electrical grid increasingly goes renewable—and concertgoers alike. “With the number of attendees that we have, we want to make sure everyone is breathing as much clean air as possible,” said Douglas Brusky, the Deputy Director of Operations and Technical Productions at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, presenter of the Levitt AMP Sheboygan Music Series. “We’ve gone through the steps of working with the city to be able to have connection points so the food trucks can just roll up and drop cables right next to where they’re parked.”
These efforts are complemented by the team’s approach to lighting. With days extending longer during summer, having an outdoor concert series minimizes the need for artificial light and combats light pollution. Beyond making it difficult to see the stars and planets, light pollution can interfere with the circadian rhythms of wildlife and human beings alike. When lighting is needed, Levitt AMP Sheboygan uses energy-efficient LED lights to illuminate its stage, producing much less heat and requiring much less electricity than conventional lighting.
Reducing Landfill Waste One Fork, and One Bottle, at a Time at Levitt Shell Sioux Falls
Waste from discarded plastic water bottles at concerts and festivals is a huge issue, with a whopping 80% of bottles going straight to landfill in everyday usage. Transporting bottled water on ships, trains, and trucks also entails a significant carbon footprint when compared with water that comes directly from the tap.
In addition to any bottle waste created by the audience, the water bottles used by performers are also part of this mix. When the Levitt Shell Sioux Falls team in South Dakota noticed how many discarded water bottles were showing up onstage and in the greenroom, they set out to find a more sustainable solution to keep the artists hydrated. This year, to cut down on plastic waste, the venue will distribute Levitt-labelled reusable cups to each artist while ensuring a water jug is always nearby and full. Levitt Shell Executive Director Nancy Halverson hopes that these reusable cups will also make friendly gifts that keep on giving. “It’s a fun takeaway, and hopefully they’ll use it in other places they go to and not always reach for a single use bottle,” she said.
Additionally, the venue’s food trucks provide concertgoers with sustainable utensils along with their meals, and the beverage provider dispenses drinks in compostable, biodegradable cups. The environmentally-friendly cups are non-toxic, more durable, and reduce the amount of landfill waste and ocean pollution.
Levitt AMP Utica and Creative Repurposing of Banners
Instead of discarding promotional banners created for concerts into a landfill, the Levitt AMP Utica team in New York has found a creative way to repurpose these large vinyl pieces. For the past several years, outdated concert banners have fueled a mini mural-making activity at the site, with community artists inviting audience members to add their own unique touch to pre-drawn designs. The completed hand-painted banners are then hung on streets and fences around Kopernik Park, home to the Levitt AMP series, creating a welcoming and vibrant space.
These lawn projects enable people of all ages to explore their creative side and come together in an eco-friendly community effort to decorate Levitt AMP Utica’s stage and surrounding areas. “It’s a 360-degree creative placemaking experience where culture, art and community collide,” said AMP Music Series Coordinator Michelle Truett. Creating art side-by-side in a fun, music-filled atmosphere sparks spontaneous new connections amongst concertgoers. This year will provide new opportunities for Levitt AMP audiences to take part in this collaborative, hands-on process of repurposing banners, with a diverse group of artists at the helm.
Beyond repurposing stage banners, the Levitt AMP Utica team has also creatively repurposed fabric onsite to honor their community’s rich diversity—and to beautify Kopernik Park. As a refugee settlement community, Utica’s residents hail from countries across the globe. For multiple years, community members have repurposed traditional Asian and African clothing by weaving them together to create beautiful quilt-like “tree turtlenecks” around the park’s trees.“It’s kind of representative of what our community is,” Truett said regarding these installations. “It’s all these different cultures and our new neighbors from different countries who are living side by side. This is a place where people from our community can start intertwining their social lives with each other.”
From energy efficiency to waste reduction to creative repurposing, Levitt locations around the country are increasing their commitment to sustainability and inspiring others to take part in environmentally-friendly efforts. Here’s to celebrating the beautiful outdoor spaces where we gather to enjoy free, live music—and working together to sustain them for generations to come!