Summer 2020 News

Draft EIR is a Milestone for Levitt San Jose

This spring we marked a major milestone in our journey towards a music stage at St. James Park with release of the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the proposed project that would revitalize St. James Park, including the development of the proposed Levitt Pavilion.

The DEIR identifies potential impacts related to noise and historic resources. There are mitigations proposed and we will continue to work with the City and the community to resolve concerns and allow the project to move forward.

The City hopes to have the final document completed for additional review in September. The document will also include responses to public comments that were submitted during the public review period.

Public hearings to further discuss the final EIR and issues related to St. James Park are tentatively scheduled for September and October.

Board Spotlight: Carlos Velázquez

Rick Holden, Board PresidentWe're happy to introduce to you Carlos Velázquez, who has been part of the Levitt Board since 2017. 

Carlos is a native of San José who has led the communications for a variety of arts, humanities, and environmental organizations, including Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, Illinois Humanities, and Teatro Visión. He is an alum of the National Association for Latino Arts and Culture’s (NALAC) Leadership and Advocacy Leadership Institutes, as well as the Multicultural Artists Leadership Institute (MALI) in San José. He also is co-host of the Art Boutiki Drink and Draw, a free, monthly, all-ages social drawing night in San Jose.  

Carlos, where does your interest in St. James Park, and the desire to help build a music venue that location, come from?
I’m a big history buff, and love exploring and learning about my hometown and its complicated history. St. James Park is a prominent part of San Jose history, and a venue like this will allow more of us to learn about and engage with its history and significance. I also love the idea of bringing people together through live music. I loved going to Music in the Park when it was free and I could revel in the music with all the people that make up the San Jose I know and love.
Tell us more about your background and interest in music.
My first memories of music were of my mom blaring her records from the living room as the steamy aroma of her arroz y pollo permeated from the kitchen through our home.  I come from a family of immigrants who grew up near the border, so she would play 70’s Mexican pop, cumbia, rancheras and norteñas along with Motown, lowrider oldies, the Beatles and The Doors. As a teenager I fell in love with going to live music shows and spent my time at concerts skanking or moshing the night away. Music has always been very much connected to my life and my family and community history and that connection is only getting stronger.

I understand you like to DJ music as well. How long have you been doing this and what have you learned about performing arts in general from this experience?
I collect 60’s everything, including vinyl records. The last two years I have enjoyed playing them at the free, all-ages, monthly Art Boutiki Drink and Draw. I’ve been a supporter of the Boutiki since it debuted at its original location on South First Street in 2009. Their commitment to a no-frills, humble, grassroots and all-ages venue full of heart and amazing talent and creativity is an inspiration for the kind of space and environment I’d like to foster at Levitt Pavilion San Jose.

If you look at the mix of national, regional and local talent at other Levitt Pavilions, how do you see the San Jose Levitt utilized? 
San Jose and the South Bay have a diverse array of emerging and established talent, and if we make this venue truly accessible we would have enough to fill a year’s slate of performances. I’d like to see Levitt San Jose foremost be a resource for local artists to hone their craft under a professional concert venue and for all of San Jose to have a place to gather and have fun. And if I can still see the Mime Troupe, or perhaps Quetzal and Los Lobos at Levitt San Jose, I wouldn’t have a problem with that!

If there was one thing you would like people to remember about the proposed Levitt Pavilion San Jose, what would it be?
Our board is full of people committed to making this Pavilion a reality, and we’re bolstered by people who are reading this e-newsletter and are just as excited and passionate about this project. If we work together to make this a park and venue for all, we’ll make San Jose history.  

Carmen Castellano ¡Presente!

The Friends of Levitt San Jose mourn the recent loss of local philanthropist and arts advocate Carmen Castellano. As president of the Castellano Family Foundation she supported many of our favorite arts organizations such as San Jose Jazz, Cinequest, Teatro Visión and Los Lupeños de San José. But above the support, her life-long advocacy for equity in philanthropy, diversity on boards, and social change here in Santa Clara Valley will be her legacy.

Her work and values are remembered by our Board, and will influence our work to create an inclusive space that supports and celebrates local artists. 

Carmen Castellano ¡Presente!

Virtual Levitt Pavilion Raises $$ for Local Arts Groups

This past May we dipped our toe into the virtual event world and it was awesome! This virtual world brought upon by current event restrictions gave us a path to bring together our community while we supported and highlighted local performers. On May 28th, we hosted May Day for the Arts, featuring arts groups such as San Jose Jazz, New Ballet San Jose, Silicon Valley Shakespeare, San Jose Taiko and more. Each 30-minute taped performance was followed up with a lively chat with the performers, our board members and the virtual audience. Nearly 1,600 people registered, and we raised two thousand dollars for these performance groups! Thanks to all those who participated, stay tuned for the next edition in the Fall! 

Music Bingo Showcases Levitt Pavilion's Music

In July, we hosted another unique virtual event that showcased some of the best that Levitt's stages had to offer. Virtual Music Bingo was a chance to play some bingo, with each square representing a musician or band who have performed on Levitt stages across the country. Each 'square' was introduced by a song from the performers. We were able to introduce our community to groups including; Flor de Toloache, an all-woman modern mariachi band, War and Treaty, a husband-wife duo from Michigan with a smooth sound, and ORGONE an Los Angeles funk band to name a few. Bingo guests won prizes from various local restaurants and breweries. We were proud to be able to showcase Levitt the brand of music to San Jose!
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605 South First St.
San Jose, Ca 95113

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