Levitt Pavilion had a rocking year: 2021 attendance highest of first three years

The Levitt Pavilion’s third in-person season came to a close last month, and the free music venue saw a sizable increase in attendance even though it hosted fewer shows.

More than 65,000 people attended the downtown pavilion’s 36 free concerts this year— which is up from more than 58,000 visitors during the 2019 season, staff said.

The 2019 season had 53 concerts. The 2020 season is not comparable since performances were entirely virtual due to the public health emergency.

“It was so great to be back in person this year,” said Madeline Hart, director of outreach and community engagement with the Levitt Pavilion Dayton.



The Levitt Pavilion Dayton planned to host 41 concerts this year, but six shows were cancelled because of bad weather.

A couple of shows were rescheduled, but one had to be called off when a band member tested positive for COVID-19.

The Levitt is part of a national network of venues that seek to host at least 50 free concerts every year in normal, non-pandemic times.

The Levitt, an outdoor venue, provided a safe entertainment option during the coronavirus crisis, Hart said.

That’s part of the reason the pavilion, in addition to its free concerts, also hosted 20 community gatherings this year, she said, which was up from a dozen in 2019.

“I think that people were itching to get out,” she said. “I think people were looking a safe way to gather but still have space to spread out if they wanted to.”



The Levitt’s mission is to bring people together and build community through a shared musical experience, Hart said.

But it also has helped reinvigorate what was a sleepy part of downtown.

ExplorePHOTOS: Levitt Pavilion wraps up record-setting year for attendance

The Levitt, located on South Main Street between Fourth and Fifth streets, held its first performance in August 2018.

The Levitt this year provided millions of dollars worth of free programming, Hart said, and the economic impact on downtown likely exceeds $1.7 million.

A survey from a couple of years ago found that about one-third of Levitt concert-goers spend about $60 in the downtown area before, during or after performances.

A variety of restaurants and other businesses say they have seen a steady stream of foot traffic on concert days.

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Visitors quickly fall in love with the Levitt experience, as they learn they don’t need a ticket to see high-quality live music, they can bring coolers and it’s great way to connect with others, she said.

The largest concert this year was the Ohio Players: About 10,000 people attended that show.

That concert shattered the venue’s previous attendance record. In 2019, the Breeders’ concert attracted a crowd of about 8,000 people.

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