A bunch of free music might be headed Durham’s way this summer—but to get there, you’ve got to vote for it. Durham Central Park stands to increase its free concert offerings if it can win a grant for which it is currently competing. The group has already completed the first round in its application for a Levitt AMP Grant, a national competition in which the creators of five winning proposals are awarded $25,000 each toward the establishment of a free music series. As of this writing, the group holds second place nationwide in the voting stage.
Tess Mangum Ocaña, one of the Durham Central Park’s organizers, says pursuing the grant comes in response to the wishes of the public.
“We did a lot of surveys and the two big things that people wanted at Durham Central Park were more shade and seating—very practical things—and the other thing was more free programming and concerts, not just blues music, but all kinds of different genres,” she says.
The grant would meet that demand head-on, and in an exciting way. The Levitt AMP Durham Concert Series, as it would be known, would begin in mid-June and run through August. Three of the ten shows would be coproductions with The Art of Cool, another Durham-based nonprofit that has ample experience with putting on musical events. Four would loosely conform to the blues genre in acknowledgement of the annual Warehouse Blues Festival, a free series that takes place in the park in July. That leaves three concerts that could be in any number of genres, from funk and soul to country and rock ’n’ roll. The door is wide open.
The series would accomplish several of Durham Central Park’s goals, helping sustain the independent nonprofit public space. Mangum Ocaña also figures that with area music festivals already attracting out-of-town visitors, the lack of a price tag with this one would bring in even more tourism dollars to the benefit of all. And Durham Central Park also desires to make music available to everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status.
Today, poised at No. 2 in the voting, the future looks bright for the series. But competition is keen, so add your voice here. You must open an account, after which you’ll receive a link enabling you to cast a vote. You can only vote once, but it might well be the least fraught vote you cast in this election season.