10 Reasons to Support the Arts in Kansas City in 2024

The arts are fundamental to our humanity. They ennoble and inspire us—fostering creativity, empathy, and beauty. The arts also strengthen our communities socially, educationally, and economically—benefits that persist even during a pandemic that has been devastating to the arts.

The following 10 reasons show why an investment in artists, creative workers and arts organizations is vital to the nation’s post-pandemic healing and recovery.

Photo by Don Ipock

  1. Arts unify communities. 72% of Americans believe “the arts unify our communities regardless of age, race and ethnicity” and 73% agree that the arts “helps me understand other cultures better”—a perspective observed across all demographic and economic categories.
  2. Arts improve individual well-being. 81% of the population says the arts are a “positive experience in a troubled world,” 69% of the population believe the arts “lift me up beyond everyday experiences,” and 73% feel the arts give them “pure pleasure to experience and participate in.”
  3. Arts strengthen the economy. The nation’s arts and culture sector—nonprofit, commercial, education—is a $1.02 trillion industry that supports 4.9 million jobs (2021). That is 4.4% of the nation’s economy. In Missouri, arts and culture is a $11 billion industry—3.1% of the state economy—and supports 89,146 jobs (bigger than utilities, education and agriculture). The arts accelerate economic recovery: a growth in arts employment has a positive and causal effect on overall employment. (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis). Greater Kansas City Metropolitan Area’s nonprofit arts industry alone generates $615.2 million in economic activity—spending by organizations and their audiences—which supports 8,977 jobs and generates $97.5 million in local, state, and federal government revenue (2022).
  4. Arts drive tourism and revenue to local businesses. The 4.5 million attendees at Greater Kansas City Metropolitan Area’s nonprofit arts and culture events spend an average of $37.06 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission on items such as meals, parking and lodging—vital income for local businesses. 13% of attendees live outside of the five-county region (Clay, Jackson, and Platte Counties in Missouri; Johnson and Wyandotte Counties in Kansas counties); they average $60.37 in event-related spending. Arts travelers are ideal tourists, staying longer and spending more to seek out authentic cultural experiences.
  5. Arts improve academic performance. Students engaged in arts learning have higher GPAs, standardized test scores and college-going rates as well as lower drop-out rates. These academic benefits are reaped by students across all socio-economic strata. Yet the Department of Education reports that access to arts education for students of color is significantly lower than for their white peers. 91% of Americans believe that arts are part of a well-rounded K-12 education.

    Photo by Tyler Cook

  6. Arts spark creativity and innovation. Creativity is among the top five applied skills sought by business leaders—per the Conference Board’s Ready to Innovate report—with 72% saying creativity is of “high importance” when hiring. Research on creativity shows that Nobel laureates in the sciences are 17 times more likely to be actively engaged as an arts maker than other scientists.
  7. Arts have social impact. University of Pennsylvania researchers have demonstrated that a high concentration of the arts in a city leads to higher civic engagement, more social cohesion, higher child welfare, and lower poverty rates.
  8. Arts improve healthcare. Nearly one-half of the nation’s healthcare institutions provide arts programming for patients, families and even staff. 78% deliver these programs because of their healing benefits to patients—shorter hospital stays, better pain management and less medication.
  9. Arts for the health and well-being of our military. The arts heal the mental, physical and moral injuries of war for military servicemembers and Veterans, who rank the creative arts therapies in the top four (out of 40) interventions and treatments. Across the military continuum, the arts promote resilience during pre-deployment, deployment and the reintegration of military servicemembers, Veterans, their families, and caregivers into communities.
  10. Arts Strengthen Mental Health. The arts are an effective resource in reducing depression and anxiety and increasing life satisfaction. Just 30 minutes of active arts activities daily can combat the ill effects of isolation and loneliness associated with COVID-19.

Information provided by ArtsKC and Americans For The Arts in 2024.

Saint Luke’s Recognizes WWII Veteran and Community Leader With Seat of Honor

Ed Matheny receives Seat of Honor from Saint Luke’s

Portrait of Ed Matheny

Photo provided by Saint Luke’s

In a society where turning 40 is synonymous with being “over the hill, Saint Luke’s recent Seat of Honor honoree Ed Matheny proves that life is still worth living at 100 years old.  

On Tuesday, April 23, Saint Luke’s recognized Matheny before photographer David McLain’s Trailblazing Talks presentation on Blue Zones and the secrets to longevity. As a centenarian and trailblazer himself, Matheny’s journey is a lifetime dedicated to service, leadership and unwavering commitment to his community. 

In his youth, Matheny graduated from Mizzou and served as a Navy intelligence officer in the Pacific during World War II. In 1946, Matheny attended Harvard Law School, graduating in 1949, before returning to Kansas City to work as a managing partner at a prestigious law firm. Matheny went on to help establish Kansas City Public Television and serve as a president and chairman of Saint Luke’s Hospital Board and Foundation for 15 years.  

“Stay active and be involved. That makes life all the worth living.” — Ed Matheny 

From left to right: Louis Collier, Ed Matheny and Dr. Holt

Photo provided by Saint Luke’s

Now, Matheny lives at Saint Luke’s Bishop Spencer Place — but his journey does not end there. With a list of many publications throughout his life, Matheny plans to make space for one more as he currently writes his remarkable autobiography. 

In his downtime, Matheny enjoys walking, spending time with his son, taking in the Kansas City community, staying involved in community activities, interacting with his neighbors and going in for regular checkups at Saint Luke’s — all of which he attributes to his good health. 

Trailblazing Talks includes a lineup of renowned presenters whose work reveals fascinating insights about our planet. Oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle will conclude the series on May 21 at 7:30 p.m. in Muriel Kauffman Theatre with ‘Saving Our Blue Planet, One Hope Spot at a Time.’ Tickets can be purchased here. 

From Grains to Grandeur: Local Spirits Take Center Stage on Founders’ Lounge Menu

With seven artisan cocktails crafted with 11 Kansas City-based spirits, the Founders’ Lounge at the Kauffman Center redefines the cocktail experience by featuring the finest creations from local distilleries. Formerly known as The Dining Experience, the Founders’ Lounge is located just within the south doors and serves as the on-site restaurant at the Kauffman Center.

A cocktail sitting on a table with the Kauffman Center's interior in the background.

Photo by Don Ipock

The Kauffman Center is proud to partner with Tom’s Town Distilling Co., J. Rieger & Co. and Restless Spirits Distilling Company.  These distilleries represent Kansas City’s spirited history with beginnings dating back as early as 1853 and as recent as 2016.  

“Five or six years ago, I started taking note of the distilleries here in Kansas City. I noticed a uniqueness from each distiller,” said Founders’ Lounge Dining Manager Kevin Fossland. “Fast forward to joining the Kauffman Center team, I had the desire to build relationships with local products. The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is a Kansas City landmark, so it seems more than natural for it to be a platform for Kansas City endeavors.” 

The Founders’ Lounge menu uses these three distilleries in five of its seven perfectly crafted cocktails: Welcome to Kauffman and Bee’s Knees (with your choice of Kansas City gin), Kansas City Old Fashioned (with your choice of Kansas City whiskey), Missouri Mule (with your choice of Kansas City vodka) and the Negroni (with Tom’s Town Garden Party).

Restless Spirits Distilling Company  

Although a newcomer to Kansas City’s distilling scene in 2014, Restless Spirits is the realization of a dream that has been brewing for over 150 years. Its founders, the Shannon Family, were some of Kansas City’s earliest Irish settlers in 1853. Today, the Kauffman Center offers these Restless Spirits products: Builders Barrel Finished (gin), Builders (gin), Stone Breaker (whiskey), Gully Town Single Malt (whiskey) and Duffy’s Run (vodka). 

Bar of the Founders' Lounge

Photo by Anna Petrow

J. Rieger & Co.

Founded in 1887, J. Rieger & Co. has been a Kansas City staple from the days of pre-Prohibition to the revival of craft spirits in the modern age. With over a century of craftmanship, its continued relevance mirrors the innovative spirit of Kansas City. The Kauffman Center offers these J. Rieger & Co. products: Midwestern (gin), Kansas City (whiskey) and Premium Wheat (vodka).  

Tom’s Town Distilling Co. 

Recognized as downtown Kansas City’s first legal distillery since Prohibition, Tom’s Town pays homage to an era of speakeasies and jazz with a name that references Prohibition-era boss, Tom Pendergast. Tom’s Town opened in 2016 and continues to satisfy Kansas City locals. The Kauffman Center offers these Tom’s Town classics: Garden Party (gin), Botanical (gin), Royal Gold Bourbon (whiskey) and Double Grain (vodka).  

Other Local Spirits

At the Kauffman Center, patrons may also enjoy select products from any of the following Kansas City-based spirits: ANNX Spirits Co., Boozy Botanicals, Holladay Distillery, Lifted Spirits Distillery, Of The Earth Farm Distillery, Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery, Union Horse Distilling Co. and West Bottoms Whiskey Co.

Interested in sampling these local concoctions? Book your reservation today at kauffmancenter.org/dining.


Pre-Show Education

Get Ready for Showtime with Pre-Show Educational Opportunities

Before attending any show, it is important to know what awaits you. This extends not only to the performance itself, but also to the spectacular performers involved. Whether you are planning to enjoy the elegance of the Kansas City Ballet, the theatrical work of the Lyric Opera of Kansas City or the beautiful music of the Kansas City Symphony, here is a list of opportunities to enhance your viewing experience at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, which serves as the home venue for these esteemed companies.

Kansas City Ballet
Unlock the secrets of stage magic and learn how music, special effects and costumes all play a role when you attend a pre-curtain talk, also known as the Belger Footnotes Series, hosted by Artistic Director Devon Carney. Held one hour before the show in the Muriel Kauffman Theatre, ticketholders are free to join without a reservation.

Attendees watch as dancers rehearse scenes from Peter Pan.

Photo by Kansas City Ballet

Engage with the professional dancers when you attend Dance Speaks and Dancer Chat events, as a part of their pre-performance educational program, Artist Conversations. Locations vary for Dance Speaks events, and all Dance Chats are held virtually on Facebook Live.

Coming up, Dancer Chat: New Moves will be held from 6:30-7:15 p.m. March 13 on Facebook Live, and Dance Speaks: New Voices, New Moves will be held from 6:30-7:30 p.m. March 6 (location to be announced). Learn more here.

Finally, visit the performance page and select any production to find program notes, casting rosters, story synopses and more.

Headshot of Dr. Raffaele Cipriano

Photo provided by Lyric Opera of Kansas City


Lyric Opera of Kansas City
Held in the Muriel Kauffman Theatre, pre-opera talks are a must for the curious ticketholder. Simply arrive fifty minutes early to get a complete overview of the production you are about to see.

Soon Roméo et Juliette will take the stage at the Kauffman Center. Arrive early to hear Italian conductor, opera coach and composer Dr. Raffaele Cipriano deliver a pre-opera talks from 6:40-7 p.m. March 9 and 15, or from 1:10-1:30 p.m. March 17. Purchase tickets for Roméo et Juliette here.

For additional details on any Lyric Opera event or production, view their Upcoming Events page and start planning your next visit to one of many extraordinary performances.

Music Director Michael Stern (on the far left) sits with two guests.

Photo provided by Kansas City Symphony

Kansas City Symphony
Next time you join us in Helzberg Hall for an upcoming classical concert, remember to come one hour before each Kansas City Symphony Classical Series performance to hear G. Kenneth and Ann Baum Concert Comments. Learn more here.

With Music Director Michael Stern or Executive Director Danny Beckley as hosts, these pre-show insights promise to be lively and informative — often featuring that evening’s guest artist.

Future performances offering Concert Comments include Joy Yang Plays Tchaikovsky on March 1, 2 and 3, as well as Matthias Pintscher Welcomes Violinist Philippe Quint on March 22, 23 and 24. Purchase tickets to the next Symphony events here.

Please note that Concert Comments are not held prior to concerts featuring the Kansas City Symphony Chorus.

Most Valuable Players

Photo by Roy Inman

Super Bowl Superstitions and a Free Organ Concert

The centerpiece of Helzberg Hall, the Julia Irene Kauffman Casavant Organ, Opus 3875, is so special it has its own conservator. GRAMMY-nominated artist Jan Kraybill has been playing and advocating for the organ since the Kauffman Center opened in 2011. Kraybill herself, however, is also a fascinating subject. She is an international concert organist, pianist and harpsichordist; a dynamic speaker, educator, church musician and has hosted a free organ concert on Super Bowl Sunday for the last 24 years. In anticipation of this Sunday’s Super Bowl, the Kauffman Center asked Kraybill a few questions about herself.

Can you describe your first European piano recital?
I was very fortunate to get to spend the summer living with a family in England when I was a junior in high school. My experiences there opened my eyes in many ways to the much wider world, and awakened in me a love of travel, which I’m happy to say is now a regular part of my professional life! Part of the deal, when this was proposed to my parents, was that I keep up my practicing while there and that there would be performance opportunities. I was grateful to be able to play a solo concert in Andover, England.

How do audiences in different countries regard the organ?
Just like in the U.S., people bring a variety of experiences and impressions of the organ as an instrument. Some have heard it played only at funerals or weddings. Some have heard it as part of a baseball game. Some are lifelong fans of classical organ concerts. Some sing hymns with it every Sunday in church. Some love it as part of their favorite jazz or rock bands. Some have never heard this instrument. What I try to do is bridge all of those impressions when designing my performances, giving people something that is familiar, while expanding boundaries of what the organ and organists can do.

“It’s become a tradition, and I do have to say that the last two times I played this concert for an in-person audience, the Chiefs won the Super Bowl. (My performances had to go online for two years between those wins, due to COVID concerns, and the Chiefs were not victorious.) So I believe this concert tradition is part of their good-luck charms!”

With all the places you’ve traveled, why have you chosen Kansas City as your home?
Basically, because of life circumstances, Kansas City chose me! Earlier in my career, my aim was to move to one or the other of the coasts to “make it.“ I’m so glad that I stayed in Kansas City! The arts scene here is so supportive, diverse and vibrant, and, of course, our beautiful Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts has raised the bar for all of us who live and perform here, in addition to attracting international talent to our city. I’m so grateful to the donors who made this venue possible and to the staff and volunteers who continue to make it active and beautiful.

You enjoy many activities outside of your work with organs. Can you tell us about your lace-making hobby?
It’s true, I have a hard time sitting still, so I enjoy many creative outlets. When I was a child, my grandmother and mother taught me how to do the kind of lace-making called tatting. It’s a wonderfully relaxing hobby, a way to create beautiful gifts, and easy to take with me on airplanes.

Tell us about your 25th annual Super Bowl Sunday Organ Concert
I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for a quarter century! It’s become a tradition, and I do have to say that the last two times I played this concert for an in-person audience, the Chiefs won the Super Bowl. (My performances had to go online for two years between those wins, due to COVID concerns, and the Chiefs were not victorious.) So I believe this concert tradition is part of their good-luck charms! This year, my theme is “Most Valuable Players.” I’ll begin the concert with a piece in honor of our KC Chiefs, as I always do when they are in the Super Bowl. I’ll follow that with works representing MVPs of the classical and organ musical worlds. One of those is also in honor of Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker: it opens with 3-1/2 pages of notes played by feet alone!

Concert kickoff is 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11, at Community of Christ Temple. We’ll conclude by 3:30 p.m., prior to Super Bowl kickoff at 5:30 p.m. There will be free parking and free admission. Everyone is encouraged to wear Chiefs’ red and dress as casually as you’d like. Cameras will show live close-up views of my hands and feet in action, projected for the audience’s enjoyment. I’ve been loving rehearsing for this event, and I can’t wait to share it with everyone there! 

Make plans to attend Kraybill’s Super Bowl Concert at her website jankraybill.com.