Back in June, it was announced that part of the Ruby Hill Park revitalization project was to turn part of the space into a 7,500-person ampitheater. In a public-private partnership, the City of Denver and Levitt Pavilion Denver (one of several philanthropy projects supported by the Levitt Foundation, which has established similar outdoor venues across the country) plans to open a concert and art space at the park (near South Platte River Drive and West Florida Avenue) in 2016.
This Monday, November 17 at 6 p.m. at the Oriental Theater, those involved with Colorado's music industry at large are invited to an open forum to discuss plans for the pavilion. Levitt Pavilion Denver has not solidified architectural plans for the venue as of yet, and would like musicians, promoters and anyone involved with the local music scene to share their vision for a perfect performance space.
When Chris Zacher, executive director of Levitt Pavilion Denver, sat down with architects last year to start drawing up plans for the venue, he says found himself coming back to thinking about what artists might want. "I wanted to look at the facility from the artist's standpoint - I think that so often when these things are designed they are all about the patron, which is important, obviously." He shares that while it is imperative to create a venue with great sound, good sight lines and comfortable seating for the audience, Zacher wanted to know what makes a performance space great from the back end.
He's hoping that through the open discussion platform, artists will share things like what the structure of an ideal green room might look like, how wide and deep a stage needs to be to accommodate different kinds of acts and how best to make loading gear and equipment in an easy task.The venue is slated to host fifty free concerts a year, half of those being local acts. Zacher wants to also make sure the front-of-house is conducive to a great show for performers, regardless of the audience size. "It comes back to the artist -- how do you design a venue and not have the artists swallowed up when there is only a 1,000 people there?"
Zacher says that this evening of conversation will give the local music community a chance to share its ideas while also giving the Levitt Pavilion Denver an opportunity to introduce itself to the people it will be working with. There will be a short presentation on the future venue, information on how artists can submit to perform on future bills at the amphitheater and little more about what that selection process itself will look like. He sees the space as an incubator for Colorado music makers and a chance to use the network of other Levitt Pavilions outside of the state to promote and book local bands nationally.
"We really want this facility to speak to the people of Denver," says Zacher. "We want (artists) to understand that we're paying, on average, more than these local bands are making at other venues in town. When we talk about increasing access to the arts, especially from the artists' side, how do we take care of them and make them feel special and start to really foster a sense of community in Denver?"
Zacher says part of working with the community entails partnering with already established local music-minded programs and companies like Illegal Pete's and Greater Than Collective, which it is collaborating with to find a way to fund a hostel for touring musicians to stay in. Levitt Pavilion Denver is also working with Youth On Record to create a scholarship fund for its students, as well as develop a program where kids can have a chance to produce a concert each year at the venue.
Anyone interested in participating in the Levitt Pavilion conversation is welcome to join in this Monday, November 17 at 6 p.m. at the Oriental Theater. Musicians are also invited to bring instruments for a post-meeting jam session. The stage will be fully backlined (drum kit included,) so just a musical instrument is all that is needed to join in. For more more information on Levitt Pavilion Denver and this forum, visit the organization's website.
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