Official Name of Public Space

JMKAC Festival Green and emerging Arts and Culture Plaza site

Site Address

Festival Green: Northwest corner of Wisconsin Ave. and North 7th St., Sheboygan, Wisconsin

How will your Levitt AMP [Your City] Music Series reflect the essence of the Levitt AMP Grant Awards?

JMKAC’s mission—making innovative arts programming accessible to a broad audience—aligns powerfully with the Levitt AMP program’s essence. The concerts, as evident in 2015 and 2016 do not merely facilitate but promote inclusion and engagement through venues that are fully accessible, centrally located with high visibility, and barrier-free. Marketing and outreach emphasize that the concerts “belong” to everyone (we have seen the term “Levitting” become common among many groups). Those efforts start with an organized p.r. campaign in sync with Levitt AMP voting. Community pride has grown with the prestige of Levitt as a national funder, and that pride extends to the national/international scope of performers. The city’s diverse cultural heritage is showcased and inclusivity advanced through careful curation with diverse artists and ensembles representing world and ethnic music. That broad spectrum of styles and traditions educates and enriches the lives of concert attendees in ways that only live performance can through audience participation and close proximity to the artists. Our format includes pre-concert activities with other nonprofits to extend learning experiences and awareness around our city’s robust cultural and civic resources. Those resources—including the Arts Center, the Children’s Museum, an historic theatre, and library—are being connected as a result of the continuing re-activation of the space formerly taken up by the Boston Store.

How will your town or city benefit from the Levitt AMP [Your City] Music Series?

While delighted by the success of the first two concert series, we recognize that sustainable change in urban environments and behavior patterns requires reiterated, consistent efforts. By continuing the Levitt AMP Sheboygan Music Series we can advance the city’s ongoing reshaping of dormant public spaces, in particular the former Boston Store, and begin to embed patterns of community gatherings and arts participation across all segments of our population. With racial and socioeconomic tensions nationally on the rise, bridging differences is essential to helping communities thrive. The Levitt Foundation’s continued generous support will permit us to retain free admission, thus enabling us to serve people from all backgrounds. Interactions at the concerts have vividly demonstrated the power of live music to overcome assumptions and stereotypes; people who typically do not socialize share an evening together in ways that alter the broader civic dynamic. We also know that habits of consumers do not change overnight; the concerts have shown progress in increasing patronage to downtown businesses; 2016 surveys showed that 35% of respondents dined at a local restaurant, and estimated overall economic impact of the concerts was $550K. While pleased with these outcomes, we believe far more can be achieved. Our goals remain steadfast: reshaping the urban experience and instilling lifelong habits of participating in live music and the arts.

Describe the site where the free concerts will be held. Explain how the Levitt AMP [Your City] Music Series will play a role in enlivening the selected public space and surrounding areas.

Formerly a large retail store blocking foot traffic and sightlines to shops as well as between the Arts Center, library, and children’s museum, the site sits in the heart of downtown and thus represents a key component in creating an Arts, Culture, and Food District, an initiative designed to drive new development, interest in young professionals housing, and community pride. In preparation for the 2015 Levitt AMP Sheboygan Music Series, the city demolished the retail structure, creating open green space, free of fixed seating. In 2016 work began to ready the site for a $10M mixed-use development; consequently, concerts had to be relocated across the street to JMKAC grounds. Proximity to the redevelopment site, however, facilitated continued awareness-building of the revitalization and the goal of a permanent venue for outdoor performances (an Arts and Culture Plaza). It is important to note that the developer’s decision to make this significant investment in Sheboygan was based largely on the community enthusiasm that he experienced during a 2015 Levitt Amp concert. The 2017 concert series can extend and embed emerging public behaviors that leverage the revitalized, safe urban space. These concerts can ensure that community gatherings that are inclusive and diverse—based on the joy of live music—continue and grow, becoming sustainable civic habits.