LAFAYETTE — The 100-acre greenspace in the heart of Lafayette known as the Horse Farm will be the site of a new 10-part summer music series meant to help distract the community from the rising heat.
Lafayette is one of 10 small to midsized cities across the country to win a $25,000 Levitt AMP grant to produce a free concert series.
“The Park at the Horse Farm is the ideal place for the Levitt AMP Lafayette music series, reinvigorating this beloved, undeveloped piece of Cajun Country by making it more accessible to the entire community, ” said Sharon Yazowski, executive director of Levitt Pavilions, a national nonprofit that promotes free, live concerts to strengthen communities.
The concert series in Lafayette will be set for Wednesdays to coincide with the recently implemented midweek farmers market.
The targeted date for the first free concert is May 27, with the series to run through July, said Cynthia Simien, one of the organizers who applied for the grant. Nothing is official yet, she said, including the lineup of performers.
“Any other place in the world, whether it’s Minnesota in the dead of the winter or Colorado when it’s freezing cold, people don’t stop living,” Simien said, “but it comes to a screeching halt in the summertime here. Yes, it’s hot, but people still want to get out.”
Despite what some may consider a competition with other established music series in the area, like Downtown Alive! and Rhythms on the River, she said this new music series will be in its own category.
“You don’t have that beauty and the coolness of grass and trees (with Downtown Alive!),” Simien said, “and all that history behind the Horse Farm already lends itself to the mission of bringing the community together, too. You can also expect to see local and regional, as well as national performers.”
Simien worked alongside the Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority and its program coordinator, Rebekke Miller, to recommend the city for the grant. LPTFA matched the award and doubled the event’s budget.
“This is an opportunity, first of all, for LPTFA,” Miller said. “We’ve done a lot of things in the community. We’ve focused on the redevelopment of the downtown area and donated money to Central Park. We feel it’s a good opportunity for the community to know what LPTFA has done for it.”
Miller said it’s also an opportunity for the community to have access to the park before the scheduled construction work next year.
Scattered across the country are six Levitt pavilions built into green landscapes, similar to that of the Horse Farm, each hosting more than 50 free concerts annually.
“We’ve witnessed firsthand the transformative power of the arts to revitalize once-neglected public spaces, break social and economic barriers and give local economies a boost — all while ensuring access to high-quality arts and culture,” said Vanessa Silberman, Levitt Pavilions’ senior director of communication and strategic initiatives.
In July, Levitt Pavilions invited nonprofits to submit project proposals that would reflect the three goals of the Levitt AMP awards: amplifying community pride and the city’s unique character; enriching lives through the power of free, live music; and illustrating the importance of vibrant, public places.
The nine other cities awarded the 2015 grants are: Cleveland, Mississippi; Middlesboro, Kentucky; Sheboygan, Wisconsin; Denison, Texas; Anchorage, Alaska; Trenton, New Jersey; Bellingham, Washington; Charlottesville, Virginia; and Frederick, Maryland.