Galva repeats as Levitt AMP grant award winner

Mike Landis, Editor
Levitt AMP Galva Music Series

The Levitt AMP Galva Music Series was a go for 2019, no matter the outcome of Tuesday’s Levitt AMP award winners announcement.

But the good news — Galva was among 18 winners receiving a matching grant up to $25,000 for next summer’s series in Wiley Park— was still welcome music to the ears.

“I think it not only gives us a little extra money to work with potentially, but I think it gives us the extra motivation to work a little harder and go out and raise money and get the community involved and make it a team effort,” said John Taylor, who spearheads the music series for the Galva Arts Council. “It adds that community element that I think is really important. Honestly, we couldn’t do it without the community support.”

Galva finished fifth in the online voting to advance to the 25 finalists, and then received the nod as a winner of the $25,000 matching grant for the second consecutive year. The award allows the winners to present a series of 10 free outdoor concerts featuring high-caliber entertainment in a broad range of musical genres.

Springfield was the only other Illinois city to earn the grant award. Joining Galva and Springfield as grant winners were Berea, Ky.; Carson City, Nev.; Earlham, Iowa; Green Bay, Wis.; Middlesboro, Ky.; Ocala, Fla.; Santa Fe, N.M.; Sheboygan, Wis.; Soldotna, Ak.; St. Johnsbury, Vt.; Stevens Point, Wis.; Trenton, N.J.; Utica, N.Y.; Whitesburg, Ky.; and Woonsocket, R.I.

The immediate focus turns to fundraising and gathering enough money to earn all $25,000 of the matching grant. Several fundraisers are in the works — whiskey and beer tasting events, and pizza orders through Tom Campbell’s Bishop Hill Bakery.

“That’s the rough plan and it will probably change as time goes on as we come up with new and better ideas,” Taylor said.

The 2019 music series will feature a scheduling tweak. Rather than starting on Memorial Day weekend, next year’s series will run every Sunday in June and July, and the first Sunday in August.

“It just makes more sense in terms of marketing,” Taylor said, adding the date nearest the Fourth of July will include the John Sloan Memorial Coffeehouse that takes place annually during Galva’s Freedom Fest celebration.

“We’ll be combining the two things into one bigger event,” Taylor said.

The musical schedule has to be in place by late March or early April. Taylor has some ideas, but nothing in concrete yet.

“We’re going to try to do some new things — I will say we’re not planning on bringing any of the same artists back,” he said. “We’re trying to get all new artists. It will be a pretty diverse group of artists.”

In addition to touching base with those who helped with the 2018 series, Taylor is intent on forming new partnerships to help grow the event. Already onboard for 2019 are WVIK, Quad Cities National Public Radio (NPR); the Knox-Galesburg Symphony; and WTVP, the Peoria-based PBS television station.

“Hopefully we can get this on the radar for more people and maybe they will consider coming out,” Taylor said.

A previous partner that’s returning to help spread the word on the music series is Mediacom, which plans to provide free wireless internet in Wiley Park for the concerts and record the concerts for airing on television. Mediacom also plans to share the concert recordings with WTVP, Taylor said, and the Peoria station will repackage and broadcast the recordings.

So does Taylor think the music series will be easier to do the second time around, or pose the challenge of recharging the energy of the volunteer base to tackle the project for another year?

“I think it’s a little bit of both,” he said. “The newness is not there and now people know what to expect. There’s not as much mystery around what it might be. Some people have expectations that you want to meet.”

“It’s a mix of challenges and balancing the challenges with the resources we put together last year, and seeing how far we can take it,” Taylor added. “We definitely learned a lot last year, and I think we’ll be able to build on a lot of those lessons.”