Dayton tops L.A., Denver as fastest to $5M fundraising for pavilion

The Dayton community raised the money needed to build a state-of-the-art amphitheater downtown at the fastest pace of any city that is part of a national network of music pavilions.

That’s pretty remarkable, supporters say, considering that the seven other U.S. cities with permanent Levitt music pavilions include Los Angeles and Pasadena, Calif.; Denver Colo.; and Arlington, Texas.

Those much-larger cities have mighty philanthropic communities and substantial numbers of wealthy donors, and yet, Dayton now holds the time to beat to reach the requisite fundraising goal to get pavilion construction underway.

“Their ability to reach the fundraising goal in less than two years speaks to the incredible outpouring of support for the Levitt Pavilion project,” said Sharon Yazowski, executive director of the national Levitt Foundation.

Next year, Dayton will become the eighth Levitt city when a new, $5 million music venue opens in Dave Hall Plaza, just north of the Crowne Plaza Dayton.

Levitt pavilions host at least 50 free music shows each year, and the pavilion projects are intended to re-energize underutilized and languishing public spaces.

The plaza, located along South Main Street between Fourth and Fifth streets, right now is seldomly used, but its transformation will aid proposals to rehab the Dayton Arcade, convert a nearby office building into housing and revitalize the Fire Blocks District on East Third Street.

RELATED: Get a peek at new downtown Dayton outdoor music pavilion

To date, funds raised for the Levitt Pavilion Dayton’s capital campaign is the largest amount raised within a two-year time frame of any city with a permanent, signature pavilion, Yazowski said.

In addition to Colorado, Texas and California, pavilions are located in Memphis, Tenn.; Westport, Conn.; and Bethlehem, Pa.

“What a tribute to the philanthropic generosity and support of the Dayton community to be able to show up in such a meaningful way,” said Lisa Wagner, who recently was named executive director of Levitt Pavilion Dayton.

The pavilion will bring communities together for the shared experience of free music, which is not easy to come by, said Wagner, who worked for the Victoria Theatre Association for 14 years.

Pollstar estimates that average concert ticket prices are about $84, which means the Levitt pavilion essentially will be donating $10 million worth of programming each year, since each pavilion show is expected to draw about 2,000 or more people, Wagner said.

Levitt musical acts, which are family friendly and run the gamut of genres, tend to include up-and-coming artists who just are on the cusp of fame, Wagner said.

In less than 10 months, Dayton will have a cutting-edge venue that removes barriers preventing families from accessing and attending high-quality arts and music entertainment, she said.

“When you look at how much concert tickets cost, it’s prohibitive for families to go as a couple or an entire family,” she said.

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