“The mission of the organization is to build community through music one free concert at a time, and that’s exactly what’s happening,” said Lisa Wagner, executive director of the pavilion. “It was the vision and philanthropic focus of Mortimer Levitt, the founder of Levitt Foundation, that everyone should have access to music. And with Levitt Dayton, the seventh signature venue in the Levitt network, our community has access to high-caliber, diverse programming. In our first season, we had close to 26,000 people from 67 different ZIP codes join us on the lawn during the 33 concerts. We are already seeing the tremendous impact this is having on our community, not only through inclusion and access, but also as a catalyst for economic revitalization surrounding the pavilion grounds. With almost 40 percent of our attendees saying that they went to a shop, restaurant or bar, before, during or after a concert, the foot-traffic is great for downtown retailers. 2019 will be our first full season of 50 free concerts, beginning May 30th. We’re hoping to attract 50,000 visitors downtown.”
“In its first year the pavilion provided an estimated $2.2 million in free programming to the community,” Wagner said. “That is based on the 2017 Pollstar report that the average ticket for concerts was $84.63. Also, through educational outreach, we were able to connect our artists with at-risk or under-resourced youth at Daybreak and Dayton Leadership Academy. As we approach the 2019 season, we are excited to expand our connections between artists and partners that are doing amazing work in our community with our next generation.”
The pavilion is just one of eight in the nation and central to the city’s successful revitalization efforts, attracting new developments and visitors, while inviting local and regional residents to rediscover a fresh downtown brimming with restaurants, breweries, chic boutiques and more.
This state-of-the art venue offers something for all ages, with a stellar line-up of talent. It’s the best of the best, featuring national and international performers from cutting-edge rising folk stars, to sizzling jazz, rock and blues, and story-telling troubadours weaving colorful yarns. Children enjoy performances one Sunday every month, with top entertainment last year from duos such as Trout Fishing in America and dynamic trio Bing, Bang, Boom.
“These bands spin educational tunes that leave children laughing, delighted and engaged,” Wagner said. “Kids of all ages love these bands. And the artists seem to make us all discover our inner child through dancing and singing together. It really has been wonderful to see.”
The season kicks off in May and runs through September, with open air, outdoor seating.
“Concert goers gather on the lawn and choose their seating, bringing blankets or chairs and picnics,” Wagner said. “We often have food trucks, and on-site concessions offering beverages, beer and wine, or folks can stroll to nearby restaurants and cafes. There’s ample parking and plenty of security.”
Anticipation keeps cresting as the community, civic leaders and pavilion staff explore the future potential of this multi-million-dollar community asset. Economic and cultural contributions are already huge, but it’s the mission of connecting people that shines brightest in Wagner’s heart.
“One of the things we wanted to accomplish when we opened is for people to feel as though everyone is invited, everyone feels welcomed and that the pavilion belongs to them,” Wagner said. “To gather as a community and dance together, we are able to connect and to see how the magic of music bridges any differences that might exist. It makes us realize that we are all more alike than different. We believe that this is more of what we all could use, so we invite everyone to join us on the lawn in 2019, and let’s dance together.”