A free concert series held in Swanny Park has put Moab in the running for a $25,000 grant from the Levitt Foundation to expand the series. In order to win, the town’s residents must engage in a social media voting competition.
Last July, Moab Folk Festival founder Melissa Schmaedick teamed up with Marshal Dvorscak, Meg Stewart and KZMU, among other local supporters, to bring a mini concert series to Swanny Park. The mini-series was composed of three shows that took place on Friday evenings from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
“We have always been looking for a way to get free music into Moab,” Dvorscak said, regarding the inspiration for the series, “It’s very important to us that it’s a free event, so that everybody can come.”
Schamedick added, “This year seemed like the perfect year where all the factors lined up.”
As the group was planning the event, the organizational team did not know what kind of a crowd it would draw, but they were optimistic the town would support the idea. Their goal was to draw a crowd of 500 collectively, spread out over the three concerts.
The first show drew a crowd of 350 attendees. “It was super successful,” reflected Schmaedick.
The crowds throughout the series were consistently made up of 50-60 percent locals, a figure by which Schmaedick was encouraged. “We really wanted our community to come out, and likewise we wanted to show our visitors we have great things to offer, and we wanted to welcome them to our parks and our city and our community, not always this outward aspect of our surrounding environment.”
Inspired by the success of the mini-concert series, Schmaedick decided to apply for a national grant through the Levitt foundation, which would allow her to expand the concert series to ten free shows over the course of the summer. Explaining why she chose the Levitt grant, she explained, “The Levitt foundation sees music as a binding commonality between people, which is right in line with my own philosophy on music.”
According to the Levitt foundation’s website, their mission is “dedicated to reinvigorating America’s public spaces through creative place-making and creating opportunities for everyone to experience the performing arts.”
Schmeadick believes that Moab is exactly the type of city the grant hopes to serve, as it is a small city, isolated from other large performing arts venues.
Out of 300 to 400 applicants, Moab is one of 25 finalists moving onto phase two of the grant competition. Out of those 25, 15 will be selected as winners. In order to win, the town will have to participate in a social media voting campaign. From Nov. 1 through Nov. 20, participants will be able to register online at the Levitt Foundation’s website and select the city for which they would like to vote.
With the support of the city’s public art fund, the travel council, Moab Gear Trader and the refreshment sales from last year’s concerts, Schmaedick has already raised a matching $25,000 for next summer’s series.
In order to win, Schmaedick will need overwhelming support from Moab residents. As a result, she has made an effort to offer something for all of Moab’s citizens in the proposed concert series. Shows are scheduled from 5:30 to 7 p.m. to accommodate the residential areas surrounding the park, and will feature music from genres including jazz, classical, country, rock and roots music.
Moab Gear Trader owner Marshall Dvorscak feels confident the series will be a welcome addition to the Moab community.
“I think we’re going to win,” he remarked.
Information on the grant can be found online at concerts.levittamp.org and those interested in voting can access the polls at grant.levittamp.org/voter-registration-page between Nov. 1 and Nov. 2.