Overton Park Shell, Inc.

aka Levitt Shell   |   Memphis, TN   |  www.overtonparkshell.org

Mission

The Overton Park Shell builds community through free music and education, finding common ground in a diverse audience.

Ruling year info

2005

Executive Director

Ms. Natalie Wilson

Main address

1928 Poplar Ave

Memphis, TN 38104 USA

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EIN

74-3145100

NTEE code info

Community, Neighborhood Development, Improvement (S20)

Music (A68)

Citizen Participation (W24)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

50 Free Concerts Series

Each year the Levitt Shell presents 50 free concerts featuring a diverse range of music genres. Every concert is designed to attract people of all ages and backgrounds. Every concert is presented with the highest quality production in a family-friendly environment.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Affiliations & memberships

Americans for the Arts 2016

Tennesseans for the Arts 2016

International Association of Venue Managers 2016

Association of Fundraising Professionals - Member 2016

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The Levitt Shell fills a crucial need for Memphis, nurturing pride in the cultural depth of our city, neighborhoods, and parks. People throughout Memphis have adopted the Levitt Shell as a gathering place, thanks to strong community partnerships with neighborhoods where there is little or no access to free arts programming. The renewed family activity continues to bring new interest to neighborhoods and parks. The Levitt Shell has helped influence the revitalizing of an historic park and the resurgence of the surrounding communities. These communities have grown and enjoy the promise of renewal with development projects like Overton Square, Broad Avenue, Crosstown, the Greenline and, of course, the resurgence of family activity in Overton Park. With a strong history of success, the Levitt Shell looks to strengthen its outreach efforts, build more diversity in its audience, create more unique opportunities for learning and community engagement, and ensure the long-term sustainability of the program. To reach this goal, our primary focus is on programming diverse musical styles, strong outreach programs and fundraising in our capital campaign. To accomplish our goals, we have a strong focus on community outreach programs and partnerships. We will continue to nurture strong partnerships with accomplished organizations like New Ballet Ensemble, Opera Memphis, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Stax Music Academy, Rhodes College and more. Each of these partnerships has helped us build the diversity in our audience as well as present quality family programming that celebrates the spirit of Memphis. Other programs that will help reach our goals are: (a) “5 Fridays of Jazz." This program is a partnership with the Memphis Public Library and features 5 free jazz concerts presented at the Benjamin Hooks Library on Friday evenings in March and April after the library was closed. Over 450 people attend each event for a total of 2,300 overall. 60% of the attendees are African-American and 5% Hispanic/Latino. (b) Levitt Shell's Next Generation Apprenticeship Program. This is summer apprenticeship program that gives 12 students from Memphis-area underserved high schools the opportunity to work and learn at the Levitt Shell during the summer with paid internships. (c) In addition, over the next 3 years we plan to build partnerships in the Hispanic/Latino community for a free music series and with Parks & Neighborhoods to present family music series in community centers in underserved neighborhoods. The objective is to introduce new communities of people to the Levitt Shell and the power of free music to bring us all together. Music and community in concert.

To accomplish our goals, we have a strong focus on community outreach programs and partnerships. We will continue to nurture strong partnerships with accomplished organizations like New Ballet Ensemble, Opera Memphis, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Stax Music Academy, Rhodes College and more. Each of these partnerships has helped us build the diversity in our audience as well as present quality family programming that celebrates the spirit of Memphis.Other programs that will help reach our goals are:(a) “5 Fridays of Jazz." This program is a partnership with the Memphis Public Library and features 5 free jazz concerts presented at the Benjamin Hooks Library on Friday evenings in March and April after the library was closed. Over 450 people attend each event for a total of 2,300 overall. 60% of the attendees are African-American and 5% Hispanic/Latino.(b) Levitt Shell's Next Generation Apprenticeship Program. This is summer apprenticeship program that gives 12 students from Memphis-area underserved high schools the opportunity to work and learn at the Levitt Shell during the summer with paid internships.(c) In addition, over the next 3 years we plan to build partnerships in the Hispanic/Latino community for a free music series and with Parks & Neighborhoods to present family music series in community centers in underserved neighborhoods.

The Levitt Shell has had eight years of success in building community and positioning itself as a trusted source of high quality and family-friendly entertainment.  The Levitt Shell has a highly-qualified professional music programmer on staff with more than 10 years experience in music programming and presenting.  Additionally, we have a community partnerships coordinator with over 20 years' experience in building quality relationships with multiple partners with similar goals.  Developing our outreach programs are well-positioned for success due, in large part, to the renovations and technology upgrades completed in 2016. We now have a new state of the art sound system at the Levitt Shell which allows the old sound system to be used for outreach opportunities. Through partnership with Stax Music Academy and our summer externship program, we are able to bring students in to run the smaller sound system, and with key community partnerships we are able to present quality music entertainment at minimal cost.

The Levitt Shell achieves its mission of community-building, but we continue to work towards a stronger diversity.  We have made great progress over the last 4 years in building this diversity, but there's still work to be done in order to achieve an audience that is an accurate reflection of the greater Memphis community.  In the first years, it was believed that merely making the music free would eliminate the barriers that prevent people from accessing and enjoying the arts.  However, it was realized that the issue is far more complicated.  Challenges of transportation and trust are large factors.   With this knowledge, we began tackling these important hurdles.  First, we have concentrated on winning the trust of minority communities.  Trust comes from several sources.  The audience has to have some personal connection to the music.  We began focus groups in different communities to understand what artists and types of music are more identifiable.  With this information, we could program more music genres and artists that are familiar and peak interest.  Having community partnerships with Stax Music Academy, New Ballet Ensemble was also a key piece of our model. People came to watch their children or grandchildren perform, experiencing the Levitt Shell community, and then began coming to more and more events.  Finally, beginning smaller free series of events in familiar places within the community has been a huge success.  This wins the trust from the community on the quality of music and presentation, and then encourages their attendance at other Levitt Shell events. We have not yet tackled the hurdle of transportation, however.  This remains a key challenge.  For students in the apprenticeship program, we have provided transportation through shuttles.  This, however, is cost prohibitive to provide for our larger audience.  In 2016, we printed over 10,000 season brochures featuring public transportation options and distributed the brochures in libraries, banks and grocery stores.  We also began a free bike valet program.  In the future, our goal is to build transportation routes that allow for shuttle service from key community centers to the Levitt Shell.

Financials

Overton Park Shell, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Overton Park Shell, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 03/16/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Scott Crosby

Burch, Porter & Johnson

Term: 2017 - 2018

Lee Askew

Askew, Nixon, Ferguson

Amy Carney

Dixon Hughes Goodman, LLP

Sissy Carpenter

Community Volunteer

Scott Crosby

Burch, Porter & Johnson

Cristina Guibao

St. Jude's Hospital

Andre Fowlkes

Start Co.

Al Lyons

Retired

Alec McLean

New South Capital

John Pontius

Pittco Management

Ken Steinberg

Duncan Williams

Mary Trotz

Community Volunteer

Calvin Turley

Turley Cotton Co. Inc.

Juliet Wischmeyer

The Hohenberg Foundation

Belinda Anderson

Sam Fargotstein

Dan Murrell

Hannah Zachary

Mike Rodriguez-Chapman

City of Memphis

Barry Lichterman

Joel Smith

Keller Williams

Cameron Mann

Young Avenue Sound

Andrew Patterson

Vining Sparks

Toni Holmon-Turner

City of Memphis Division of Parks & Neighborhoods

Terry Lynch

Southland Development

Camille Gamble

self-employed

Robert Gordon

self-employed

Andre Wharton

Wharton Law Firm

Kevin Woods

Workforce Investment Network

Blanchard Tual

Tual Graves Dorkowski, PLLC