Music Series Fostered Community Pride and Spurred Positive Conversation about the Y Block

Not surprisingly, the number one reason that attendees to this summer’s Levitt AMP Springfield Music Series presented by PNC Bank would return to the south side of the Y Block was for a permanent bandshell or concert venue.

More than 7,700 people attended the ten-week, free music series held on the vacant lot adjacent to the Illinois Governor’s Mansion hosted by organizers Downtown Springfield Heritage Foundation, Downtown Springfield Inc and Springfield Area Arts Council. The two goals for the local organizers, which won them a $25,000 matching grant from the Levitt Foundation, were to bring Springfield’s diverse neighborhoods together in one central location, and to bring the public into the discussion about the future of the Y Block.

Local partners jumped on board, with PNC Bank leading the way as premier sponsor of the series. Other top sponsors included Isringhausen Imports, Illinois REALTORS, US Bank, LRS and the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau. Top in-kind sponsors included all three radio groups coming together under the Radio Matters banner, Springfield Park District, Wyndham Springfield City Centre, Star Graphics, Republic Services, and the City of Springfield, who made physical improvements to the space so that people could bring blankets and lawn chairs to the concerts and provided waste and police services.

Nearly five hundred attendees took the time to fill out a survey about their desires for the future of the block and their downtown habits. The next three most popular responses for “reasons why you would return regularly” were, in order, food truck park, gardens, and/or a dog park.

Download the Levitt Music Series Attendee Count & Survey Analysis

The goal to provide an inclusive, safe place for all members of the community to come together was accomplished. This year’s attendees generally mirrored the demographics of the City of Springfield, according to the US Census. To personally invite African American families to the series, we partnered with UAct, a local non-profit, who made a total of 117 contacts with people in 59 east side entities. The Latino attendance was actually a higher percentage than Springfield’s Latino population, thanks to outreach by Salsa Ambassador Julio Barrenzuela. The Asian population was somewhat underrepresented.

Photo Credit: Brian Bowles

The family-friendly atmosphere was evident. Nearly 60 percent of surveyed attendees came with their family. Forty-seven percent came with friends. More than a quarter of surveyed attendees brought at least one child with them to the concerts. And tellingly, eight percent of those surveyed came by themselves, which indicates the venue felt safe and welcoming.

Regarding the future of the block, the City Council recently passed an ordinance which supports placing a downtown campus of UIS and SIU on or near the Y Block.

Springfield intends to submit a renewal application for a 2020 Levitt AMP Springfield Music Series, which is due September 20. Follow Levitt AMP Springfield to stay up to date.

Downtown Springfield Inc has a policy position on the future of the Y Block. Read it here: North Mansion Block Updated 2019 Policy

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