Levitt Pavilion, the nonprofit amphitheater in Ruby Hill Park that had been bringing fifty free concerts to Denver in a usual year, had hoped to start hosting live entertainment in mid-August in this very unusual year. But because reopening safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic proved too challenging, those hopes are now dashed.
"After exhausting all avenues and possibilities for opening this summer, it has become clear that it is best for the health of our nonprofit organization and the community at large that we refrain from a 2020 concert season and focus our energy on building an incredible comeback in 2021," the venue explains in a statement announcing the decision.
The pandemic started pummeling Levitt's schedule in the spring.
"We had our entire season booked," Levitt executive director Chris Zacher told Westword earlier this year. "We hadn’t released it all yet. But the entire season was booked. There are so many components that go into making that season happen. You have to go back and analyze that and look at the financial ability of doing that. It’s not just 'Can we do shows?,' but 'Can we break even if we do?'"
While the venue hopes to bring back shows in 2021, it's not yet clear whether large-scale events will be allowed if there is not a vaccine, a cure or sufficient herd immunity for the coronavirus. Governor Jared Polis has repeatedly stated that big gatherings are not compatible with the pandemic.
At the end of July, Red Rocks Amphitheatre and the Colorado Symphony joined forces to offer a handful of concerts that observed strict social distancing, and similar events could take place at Levitt. But pulling them off would be a logistical nightmare for the nonprofit.
Instead, since the pandemic hit, the organization has been streaming concerts through the Levitt in Your Living Room Series, while Zacher has been busy heading up the Colorado chapter of the National Independent Venue Association, championing a political response to helping venues shut down by COVID-19.
If venues can survive — and as a nonprofit, Levitt probably will, Zacher says — what they offer will be more critical than ever once the world reopens.
"Music will be essential in healing from this devastating pandemic, and we will be there for you to bring the community together with free concerts when it’s safe to gather again," the organization notes in its statement. "Thank you to our community and donors who make our free music series possible and have helped us through this unprecedented and evolving situation."
Levitt in Your Living Room takes place at 6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays on the Levitt Pavilion Facebook page.