Meet the Music Loving Creative Placemaking Funder Focused On "Third Places"

The Levitt AMP Grant Awards, made possible by the Los Angeles-based Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation, support free outdoor concerts in small to mid-sized towns and cities across the country to "activate underused and neglected public spaces and create social impact."

The funding cycle for the 2017 round of grants is now open. Here's how it works. 

Grants will be awarded to up to 15 U.S.-based nonprofit organizations serving towns and cities with populations of up to 400,000. Each grantee will receive $25,000 in matching funds to present the Levitt AMP [Your City] Music Series, a minimum of 10 free outdoor concerts presented over 10 to 12 consecutive weeks during 2017. And each grantee will receive a Levitt AMP Toolkit containing valuable resources, such as a sample artist contract and press release, eblast and social media templates, and a list of talent managers and music agents from across the country.

A Knight-like online public voting process in November will determine the Top 25 finalists. The Levitt Foundation will then review the Top 25 proposals in December and the winners will be announced on January 5, 2017.

According to the foundation, the most competitive proposals will depend on a variety of factors, including:

  • The characteristics of the public space where the free concert series is to be presented—preference will be given to spaces that are easily accessible to a range of socioeconomic groups.
  • A programming philosophy that is inclusive, family-friendly, and represents a wide range of music genres, in keeping with the permanent Levitt venue program.
  • A proven track record of presenting professional quality concerts or community events, or partnering with an individual or organization that has done so.

Grant applications are now open and are due by October 10, 2016. For more information visit www.levittamp.org.

Which bring us to the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation. The grant maker is at the vanguard of music-related creative placemaking by focusing on what it calls "third places." Originally coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg, the term classifies the realms of "non-home" and "non-work"—those informal, public gathering spots that represent the heart of a community's social vitality.

It's precisely within these "third places" that the foundation operates, providing that the increasingly popular field of creative placemaking continues to evolve with greater precision and specificity.

For a good example of the foundation's "third place" creative placemaking in action, check out Levitt's efforts in transforming a toxic brownfield in Bethlehem, P.A. into the Levitt SteelStacks art campus, a gorgeous, cantilevered steel bandshell that pays homage to its industrial backdrop.

Very cool.

In related news, another big-time creative placemaking proponent, ArtPlace Americam announced the 80 projects that it will consider for its 2016 National Creative Placemaking Fund. There's no guarantee every project will walk away with funding, but we think we can learn a lot from the possible runners-up.