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Free Summer Concerts in Memorial Park: ‘Unlikely,’ City Official Says, ‘Still Possible,’ Organizer Says

Following departure of executive director and interim director, new Pasadena Pavilion fundraiser remains optimistic for short music series this summer

Published on Wednesday, July 18, 2018 | 5:48 am
A scene from the summer concert's glory years as Levitt Pavilion, froom 2004 to 2015.

Despite optimistic claims to the contrary from an organizer, the prospect of a series of free summer concerts at Pasadena’s Memorial Park seems less and less likely as July goes by.

Pasadena Assistant City Manager Julie Gutierrez said in a statement that “the event organizer of the Pasadena Pavilion concert series has not moved forward with securing the required permits for concerts at the Memorial Park bandshell. As such, the organization is unlikely to stage any events this season.”

The local organization, now called the Pasadena Pavilion for the Performing Arts, is no longer part of the Levitt Pavilion chain of nationwide free concerts. It is strapped for cash and has seen its two top-ranking managers quit in the last 30 days.

A new potential funder has stepped forward, Los Angeles real estate developer Samir Srivastava, who said he thinks it is still possible to complete funding and permitting and to stage “a few of the concerts as planned.”

Originally, Elizabeth Levitt Hirsch brought the Levitt name and its funding power to Pasadena to stage 50 free summer concerts in the Old Pasadena bandshell with one major caveat—that, after five years, the local organization should stand alone and be self-sustaining. That was in 2003.

The successful series apparently failed to produce an equally effective local fund-raising organization. Finally, last year, there was falling out between the Pasadena organization and the parent Levitt organization.

Former Pasadena Pavilion Executive Director Renee Bodie attributed a lack of funding from the Levitt organization for the Pasadena group’s inability to mount a full season this summer.

Enter Srivastava, who told Pasadena Now Tuesday, “Right now, we’re working on this year, [and it] has been a little slower than usual because we’ve had difficulty raising all the necessary procedures required for the season, but we have really promising opportunities in front of us, and I’m hoping to put that together over the next few days so we can have a few of the concerts go on as planned on the season.”

Added Srivastava. “Besides that, everybody’s on standby to hear the good news that we’ve got the support we needed for this year.”

Asked how quickly summer 2018 shows could actually take place, Srivastava explained the permitting process, saying, “You have to fill in an application and send in a form with some number of dates, and request those dates as part of our season. This comes with the submission of fees for those dates and commitments from the artists that we need to make sure are set for those dates.”

Srivastava seemed unfazed by the late start to the summer season.

“[We] still have time,” he said Tuesday. “[We] can fill out an application today, and, you know, technically, if the city had the spaces available, they would need, I believe a 14-day, two week turn around to get that set up. So I don’t think we are out of the ballpark for this year’s season yet. The quicker I get my funds committed, the quicker I can make the commitment to the stage, because simultaneously we’d have to lock in the artist, and then we have to have the listing, and everything else in place.”

Asked about fundraising progress for the season so far, Srivastava said, “I’m calling every number in my book.”


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