Meant for Memphis: The Shell’s Next Stage
Looks to Memphis Community for Ongoing Support and Vision for the Future
At 10 a.m. on March 3 at the Levitt Shell, the 85-year-old iconic Memphis venue where Elvis Presley played his first show hosted a community-centric event, ‘Meant for Memphis: The Shell’s Next Stage’ to announce their new name – Overton Park Shell – the return to its historic name.
This decision made by the Board of Directors comes after months of discussion and discernment. With the name change comes the responsibility to focus on making the Shell more accessible for all of Memphis and a sustainable business model for the organization. It also allows the organization to launch a new outreach strategy into underserved neighborhoods and zip codes of Memphis and Shelby County, while preserving the legacy of the historic bandshell.
Established in 1936, the historic Overton Park Shell will continue its mission of free, performing arts concerts for Memphis and the surrounding communities every year, but will rely specifically on local, Memphis investment from local families, foundations, corporations/businesses and concert-goers with other revenue streams, like more ticketed concerts.
“We wouldn’t be where we are today without the support of the Levitt Foundation, whose transformative investment saved the Shell in 2007 and we are grateful for their 17 years of support,” said The Overton Park Shell Executive Director, Natalie Wilson. “As a result of their steadfast support, The Shell has flourished to become a city-wide destination for multi-cultural programming as well as a committed community partner showcasing other non-profits.”
While the majority of programming is presented free to the public, it is not without cost to the organization. Each free concert costs more than $15,000 to produce, which includes supporting the artists, production contractors, security and much more. Support from the community is more vital than ever as the Overton Park Shell continues to grow into the vibrant community space Memphians know and love. While there will be a new name, the mission of building community through the performing arts will remain the same.
“Coming to The Shell for the first time to meet with local community leaders nearly two decades ago, we knew the magic could, and would, return. Music is a universal language that we all speak and delight in, especially in public spaces where we can celebrate our shared humanity. The Levitt Foundation is incredibly proud to be part of the Shell’s legacy—supporting its rebirth as a cherished gathering place for the entire community,” said Liz Levitt Hirsch, Board President of the Levitt Foundation. “Levitt Shell Memphis has been a beautiful reflection of the Levitt mission, bringing people together from all walks of life to experience acclaimed artists in a free, open lawn setting. The Shell team has built a strong foundation to continue creating a warm and inclusive environment with accessible arts experiences at its core. We’re excited to watch them soar to new heights.”