The Sound of Escondido

By Kristen Lavan

Escondido is currently in the running to be one of the 15 cities in the United States to receive a $25,000 grant from The Levitt Foundation. The Levitt Foundation provides grants for mid-sized cities to renovate or build an outdoor, public venue in order to put on free concerts throughout the year. If awarded the grant, the California Center for the Arts plans to renovate Grape Day Park to make it a safe place for the community to gather.

The Levitt AMP Grant Awards are given to 15 cities which have a population of more than 400,000 people, every year. The 15 non-profit organizations that win will be awarded $25,000 each in order to create their own outdoor music venue and host a free concert series for the community every summer. Providing free entertainment for the community is already a goal of the California Center for the Arts. On the first Wednesday of every month, the CCA hosts a free concert for the community. This month they hosted the Maracosta Symphony and Choir, who performed an act called the Dueling Nutcrackers. The city hopes to further its ability to provide these kinds of performances free of charge.


Escondido submitted a proposal to the Levitt Foundation in partnership with the San Diego Music Foundation, Palomar College, and the Escondido Chamber of Commerce. In their proposal, they explained that “The Levitt AMP Escondido Music Series would reflect Escondido’s diversity by featuring bands that celebrate traditional genres, infused with a modern appeal to draw in younger residents, while also providing them with a space to connect with established residents. Music would be the centerpiece of this music series, giving families a place to experience live entertainment together in a welcoming environment, engaging with neighbors and friends.”

Escondido recognizes its younger residents, especially young families and college students, who are moving to Escondido. There is little family entertainment in Escondido and they want to bring the community together by turning the park into a “vibrant mini-festival centered on a theme of unity through music”. The city recognizes the financial limitations of the young residents and wants to provide free, live entertainment to establish an environment where traditional music genres are united with a modern appeal. “Young families are moving into the city at a high rate, yet are in need of a central location to connect,” they say in their proposal.


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Sophomore Jackie Minton became familiar with the Levitt Foundation when they came to her hometown of Arlington, Texas in 2008. “Having free live music downtown was such a blast. The Levitt provided a space for community and creativity in the center of my city. My favorite performance that I got to see there was from the Pentatonix when they came through on their first tour. Tickets usually cost upwards of $25.00, but downtown the show was free. Getting to see Kevin beatbox with his cello live was something else. I have many good memories dancing on the concert lawn and singing the national anthem for their fourth of July celebrations. I hope that Escondido places as one of the fifteen cities that will be chosen this year and that the students will be able to take advantage of this kind of opportunity.”

Escondido was announced to be as one of the 25 candidates at the end of November, which was chosen from an online public vote. Out of these, the Levitt Foundation will chose 15 winners that will be announced on January 2, 2018. If Escondido wins, it will be the first city in California to have received this grant. The artists and musicians they would feature would “reflect the rich culture and unique diversity found in and around Escondido”. The grant would allow the Art Center to provide food, vendors, and talent for free entertainment for the community. The Levitt AMP Grant will provide the ability to create a public entertainment center in the town at which the new, young residents of Escondido can engage with the longstanding members through arts and music.