In an office of five people, Operations Manager Jake Paron is the only man. He’s also the most organized.
On any given day, Paron is rearranging a closet in the Levitt office or finding simplified ways to file documents. His factual brain understands the legalese of artist contracts and can picture how to lay out a room to optimize the space.
“Being organized is a key to making your work easier, because if you can’t find things, you wind up redoing things, or you wind up doubling things, or you wind up not doing something,” Paron said.
Paron is detail oriented in everything he does, including his own music.
Making music, which started as a way for him and a friend to spend time together, turned into an outlet through which he could balance his factual, organized brain with something that allowed him to be more emotional and creative. He’s been creating music for 10 years.
“I never really did music personally to be in the music industry,” Paron said. “[Music has] always been fun, it’s always been something very personal. It was just natural to wind up here, having an interest in music.”
Paron joined the Levitt as an intern in 2021 while he finished his master’s in business administration at Augustana University. In January 2023, right before his 23rd birthday, he transitioned to full-time as operations manager.
“I like the process,” Paron said. “I like seeing things all the way through. It’s nice that we start from scratch, zero artists, zero vendors, nothing. Then we work our way to 50 concerts in the summer, plus more outreach. There’s something rewarding about starting something and executing it all the way through.”
Now one year into his role, Paron uses both the logical side of his brain and his understanding of music to help the Levitt build community through music.
Some of his initiatives include scheduling food trucks, managing rental events at the shell, booking opening acts, and helping Executive Director Nancy Halverson with headlining bands. He also pushed for new genres, like Hip-Hop and Indie, to help widen the Levitt’s audience.
“Hip-Hip is music like rap, trap, R&B, but also cultural, think of breakdancing or even clothing,” Paron said. “So when you say hip-hop music, it’s not just rap. So I think there’s such a big market for that.”
As someone with an ear for music, Paron is also the one that sets up the sound system for community outreach events. He’s helped bring music to kids programs, rehab facilities, schools, and even the state penitentiary.
“I really care about the work that I’m doing,” Paron said. “I see a direct impact. It’s not just some widgets in and out. There’s real meaning and impact.”
Heading into his fourth summer on the lawn, Paron is still focused on increasing representation in genres and bands on the stage. He’s hoping to see more variations in the Levitt’s social media demographics, to continue outreach events, to bring more high-quality performers, and to help the Levitt maintain its status as a key player in downtown Sioux Falls.
“We’ve been successful, but we need to keep that success going,” Paron said. “It’s one thing to be successful in the first few years, it’s another thing to maintain that. Maintaining success is harder than achieving it.”