The Dayton music pavilion that we overlook

Everyone knows that the solution to Dayton’s problems is a single silver bullet project- one that will change the future of Dayton forever- catapulting us back into the heyday when all was grand (somewhere between November 1955 and May of 1956).

We’ve done Courthouse Square, the Convention Center, Sinclair Community College, The Arcade, Arcade Tower, 5/3rd Field, Riverscape, the Schuster Center and countless other “game changers,” all with the same effect- not much. The most media attention we’ve gotten has been- take your pick:

  • The Dayton Accords- which brought peace halfway around the world- but, were actually negotiated in Greene County.
  • John McCain announcing Sarah Palin as his running mate- also in Greene County.
  • A hoax concert by Limp Bizkit at the Sunoco station in South Park.

Of the three- the last was the most successful (no money spent, no politicians involved).

The new silver bullet is a concert pavilion on Dave Hall Plaza- where for years we’ve had a summer concert series on two portable stages that’s worked OK- the Women in Jazz show, Reggae Fest, Blues Fest, etc.

But, since Kettering has the Fraze (which lost money for at least the first 4 seasons before turning a profit) and Huber Heights just opened the Rose- which made a little in its first season- Dayton wants to bring a concert facility downtown- because, we don’t have one? Oh, we’ll get to that in a bit…

The nonprofit group Friends of the Levitt Pavilion Dayton has a goal of raising $5 million by the end of this summer to pay to build a state-of-the-art amphitheater in Dave Hall Plaza.

The group plans to intensify campaign efforts in coming weeks and months to raise the money needed to pay to construct the free outdoor music venue, which is slated to begin in 2017. The planned opening of the pavilion is late May 2018.

The state’s capital budget, unveiled this week, calls for allocating $550,000 for the pavilion.

The venue will be an anchor destination that offers world-class musical performances and acts at no cost to visitors that builds community and spurs on revitalization of the urban core, according to supporters and local officials…

Fundraising for the Levitt Pavilion Dayton is underway, and donations are being accepted at levittdayton.org and on Facebook. The pavilion has a page at twitter.com/LevittDayton.

The roughly $5 million capital project will create an amphitheater in Dave Hall Plaza, on the north side of Crowne Plaza Dayton. The pavilion’s lawn will hold at least 2,000 people and will host 50 free music concerts each year.

The amphitheater will be a “community gathering place” that features a mix of national, international and local and emerging acts, supporters said.

The Dayton Levitt Pavilion will be part of a network of signature Levitt Pavilions across the nation, which are subsidized by the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation.

The foundation provides signature pavilions about $1.5 million in assistance in the first five years. But local support and funds are a necessity.

The foundation then provides about $150,000 annually for operating costs in perpetuity. Pavilion operations typically cost about $500,000 annually.

Pavilions are located in Westport, Conn.; Memphis, Tenn.; Bethlehem, Pa.; Arlington, Tex.; and Los Angeles and Pasadena, Calif. Pavilions are planned for Denver, Colo., and Houston, Tex.

Each Levitt Pavilion has an open lawn setting where everyone is welcome to enjoy the free concerts in an idyllic outdoor atmosphere, said Sharon Yazowski, executive director of the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation.

“No two pavilions are designed the same, ” Yazowski said. “Through a community-driven design process, each Levitt Pavilion is designed to reflect the personality and character of the city where it is located, taking into account local aesthetics and traditions.

”Levitt pavilions are a proven model for reinvigorating neglected areas, and cities that have welcomed the amphitheaters have benefited from new retail, restaurants and other investments, supporters said.

The Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation’s objective is to reactivate underutilized public spaces and create family-friendly music venues that bring together people of all backgrounds and socioeconomic status to interact and develop stronger bonds, said Mescher.

Free, quality live music promotes community-building and shared experiences at a time when U.S. concert tickets can be prohibitively expensive for many families, supporters said. On average, concert tickets cost almost $79 in 2015.

Levitt Pavilion shows attract top-notch acts and up-and-coming performers. About 20 of the artists who have performed on Levitt stages in recent years were nominated for Grammy awards in 2016, according to the foundation.

Black Violin played on the Levitt circuit. The band performed at sold-out shows at the Victoria Theatre in March….

All that foot traffic will lure light retail, restaurants, bars and other businesses, and the project optimizes a space that has been underused for a long time, said Ellen Ireland, who serves on the Friends of Levitt Pavilion Dayton Board of Directors.

This project will build community through free music and will kick-start economic development and bolster reintegration in the urban core by bringing as many as 125,000 people downtown, she said.“For us to be the ninth (Levitt Pavilion) is huge,” Ireland said. “It’s key to get our fundraising well underway and finished so that we make sure it happens here and not somewhere else.”

The Levitt model demonstrably works, and Dayton’s project will draw from the experience of other cities with pavilions to succeed and have the biggest impact, Ireland said.

The proposed state capital budget includes $550,000 in funding for the pavilion project.Rep. Fred Strahorn, D-Dayton, said he pushed for the inclusion of the Levitt pavilion funding in the state capital bill because, “most vibrant cities have a happening music scene. I think Dayton has some components, but I think Levitt will really push that over the edge.”

Strahorn said the project will complement the growing number of people moving to downtown Dayton.

“I think things like the Levitt will engage more people to want to move into that space, and want to live in that walkable space,” he said.

Source: Backers seek $5M for Dayton music pavilion

Island Park Banshell, 2016 photographed by David EsratiBut, wait- we already have a concert pavilion/bandshell, with plenty of free seating. It’s in Island Park, but- oh, I must have forgotten, we only invest if it’s Downtown, or helps UD, Premier Health, or Kettering Health, or a major corporation that doesn’t want to pay taxes (GE, Emerson, Midmark, Standard Register, or any of the tenants in Tech Town). We’ve also seen summer concerts under the Riverscape ice rink/pavilion- as well as shows on the streets- ala Dayton Revival festival or Cityfolk festival.

Now run by Metroparks, what started out so aptly named “White City Amusement Park” the Island park band shell sits mostly unused- and forgotten. Erected in 1939, the “Leslie L. Diehl Band shell was sponsored by the Dayton Chamber of Commerce, the city and the Works Project Administration for their “enjoyment of music and other wholesome entertainment” according to the bronze plaque that is covered with the patina of age on the right front pedestal. It used to be the home of the “municipal band” – back in the day when high schools in the city still had marching bands and music programs, and the health and welfare of the citizens wasn’t ignored in the name of “economic development.” The band shell had fallen on hard times- just like the rest of the city- and in 1995, the countywide tax that funds Metroparks (an example of regionalization that we don’t fight) were used to restore the band shell- which will be ignored for the new bright shiny thing Mayor Nan can bring to Downtown.

Considering that both the Fraze and the Rose already host a number of free concerts – should we call the Levitt the “Bus Hub Concert Pavilion” or, the keep the Daytonians in Dayton concert pavilion- or what it really is- the anti- “White City Amusement Park Band shell?”

And, one last note- to Fred Strahorn- ““most vibrant cities have a happening music scene”- haven’t seen you at any Yellow Cab shows or at any of the many bars that are keeping our local music scene going. I must have missed you at the Limp Bizkit show.

 

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed! If you wish to support this blog and independent journalism in Dayton, consider donating. All of the effort that goes into writing posts and creating videos comes directly out of my pocket, so any amount helps!