Meaningful Growth for Community Arts and Beyond

The Levitt AMP Concert Music Series, now in its third year, has created a wave of momentum within the arts, cultural and social scene throughout the City of Ocala and Marion County. As a result, the city has seen a rise in the economic-development growth.

Representatives from the City of Ocala, Marion Cultural Alliance, City of Ocala Cultural Arts and other community cultural arts organizations gave presentations to Nicole McGaffey, Levitt Foundation communications manager, at the Levitt Foundation Welcome Reception held at Marion Cultural Alliance’s The Brick this morning. 

The Levitt AMP Ocala Music Series brings free concerts to the Martin Luther King Jr Recreational Complex’s Webb Field every Friday through August 2. Each event will also feature food trucks, vendors, craft and nonprofit booths, as well as beer and wine for sale. The Summer Break Spot provides free dinners for those 18 and under in attendance. Each concert spotlights a local nonprofit organization. The music series is presented by the City of Ocala in partnership with The Marion Cultural Alliance

John Zobler, City of Ocala manager, said that the series came at a perfect time for the city. During his presentation, Zobler detailed the creation of the Community Cultural Arts Plan, which will be partially funded by the Marion Cultural Alliance as well as the National Endowment for the Arts. 

“Levitt AMP helped us raise awareness and we started spreading the arts out. After more than a year’s work, the city council has adopted a comprehensive cultural arts plan for our entire city and that started with the Levitt AMP series,” Zobler said. 

In addition to the Community Cultural Arts Plan, Zobler added, is a $10.2 million project to develop and build a 42,000 square-foot community center in West Ocala. The center will offer programming and services for all generations and will reside within two miles of the Webb Field where the Levitt AMP Concert Series takes place. Less than a quarter of a mile from the Levitt AMP venue is the MLK First Responders (police, fire and recreational services) Campus. 

“These services are desperately needed. Levitt AMP had a part in making that happen, raising that awareness, raising the profile of the need for those types of services,” Zobler added. 

Jaye Baillie, Marion Cultural Alliance executive director, said because of the Levitt series, there’s been a heightened awareness and appreciation for public art. 

“Public art is everywhere in Ocala. The city has done a remarkable job. Laura Walker and her team in particular, in making sure we all have free access to art. And that’s what we feel about the Levitt AMP series,” Baillie said. 

“That’s the thing about Levitt, you can keep talking and talking and talking about the compounding effects of Levitt. We’re so grateful,” she added.

McGaffey said that each Levitt AMP concert series lineup is selected by local nonprofits.

“It’s fantastic to see these incredible lineups rolling out across the country. No lineup is the same, because each nonprofit partner creates their lineup [in a way] that is very specific to their community, resonates with the locals and really reflects the rich diversity of their community,” McGaffey said. “I am just overwhelmed with joy that Levitt has the opportunity to be here. The fantastic ripple effects that I’ve seen from the Levitt AMP program are exactly what we hope for.”

The Levitt AMP Ocala Music Series is supported in part by the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation, a private foundation that empowers towns and cities across America to transform underused public spaces into thriving destinations through the power of free, live music. www.concerts.levittamp/ocala


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