Pamyua performs at the Levitt AMP Soldotna Music Series in Soldotna Creek Park on July 3, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Pamyua performs at the Levitt AMP Soldotna Music Series in Soldotna Creek Park on July 3, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Music in the Park returns to its local roots

Chamber hoping to hold music series once public gatherings are allowed.

Soldotna’s weekly summer concert series will be going back to basics this year — if it happens at all.

The Soldotna Chamber of Commerce announced on April 22 that the Levitt AMP Soldotna Music Series — scheduled for later this summer — will be postponed until the summer of 2021. The chamber’s executive director, Shanon Davis, said Thursday the chamber fully intends to host live music in Soldotna Creek Park as soon as they are able to do so.

“Now, more than ever, our community can benefit from the healing power of gathering with friends, family, and neighbors in the heart of Soldotna, when it is safe to do so,” Davis wrote in an email. “To that end, the Soldotna Chamber is fully committed to returning to its Music in the Park roots.”

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in Alaska and the state’s issuance of social distancing mandates, the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce was gearing up for the second Levitt AMP Soldotna Music Series to take place this summer. Vision Soldotna, the nonprofit that organizes the concert series, received a $25,000 matching grant this year and last year from the Levitt Foundation, which allowed them to hold the concerts for free while bringing in a variety of artists from around the country to perform on the peninsula.

Public gatherings are now prohibited around the country to slow the spread of COVID-19, so the Levitt Foundation is allowing cities who received the grant for 2020 to roll it into the next year. The Chamber’s board of directors made the decision to postpone the Levitt AMP Soldotna Music Series until 2021 so that they wouldn’t have to worry about reapplying for the funding for next year.

2020 would have been the second year that the weekly concerts were funded by the grant and dubbed the Levitt AMP Soldotna Music Series. When it first started, the concert series was fully funded by the Soldotna Chamber and was known simply as Music in the Park. Davis said that now, the goal for this year is to have Music in the Park return to its focus on local performers.

Davis said that the criteria that had to be met for the Levitt AMP series meant that not as many local acts were able to featured as they have in past years. Acts were required to have music for sale, play 80% original content and have a manager and an active online presence, which ended up excluding many smaller local artists that had performed in the original days of the music series.

“These are the bands that helped us create Music in the Park and grow it into the phenomenal community experience we have all grown to love,” Davis said. “At our very first gathering, over five years ago, we had 80 people attend. Last year we averaged 1,200 attendees throughout the summer. While we were thrilled to be able to offer such a diverse lineup of new bands to the community in 2019, it feels right to commit to bringing 2020 close to home, so we may celebrate together when we are able.”

With that in mind, the Soldotna Chamber has a lineup of local acts prepared, so Davis said as soon as the governor and the city of Soldotna give the OK on public gatherings again the Wednesday concerts will be back.

“We can have a band on that stage within a week,” Davis said. “But right now what’s most important is keeping everyone safe and healthy.”

Davis said that Music in the Park sponsorships will be pro-rated to reflect the number of concerts that are ultimately held.

Check the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce Facebook page for the latest information.

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