Please note changes to performances and events due to COVID-19. For updates, refer to kauffmancenter.org/coronavirus.

While the Artists are Away, the Animals will Play

Animals are natural performers, so some friends from the Kansas City Zoo literally jumped at the chance to take center stage and enjoy the spotlight at the Kauffman Center recently. Everyone brought their A-game, and it showed when the cameras started recording.

Follow this motley crew of feathered, scaly and prickly animals on their intimate Kauffman Center tour as they explore Brandmeyer Great Hall, Helzberg Hall and Muriel Kauffman Theatre.

Jasiri, a 2-year-old African Crested Porcupine, with her darling waddle and tutu of bouncing quills, is clearly a performer at heart.  Elver, a 22-year-old Galah Cockatoo, felt at home on stage, as well. With his gift for gab and beautiful coloring, it is evident why zoo-goers flock to see him.

Fred, a 7-year-old Marine Toad, performed his version of hip-hop in Brandmeyer Great Hall, while D’Artagnon, a 7-year-old Blue and Gold Macaw, overcame stage fright in Muriel Kauffman Theatre.

The slew of animals that poked around the Kauffman Center certainly took advantage of all the spaces within our magnificent building. Alice, a 3-year-old Savanna Monitor admired herself in the glow of her dressing room mirror lights, and Smaug, a 20-year-old Green Iguana, savored city views from Brandmeyer Great Hall.

We can’t wait to bring human artists and audiences back into the limelight.  In the meantime, we hope that watching our curious friends running the show in your absence brightens your day.

Drone footage courtesy of NMG Studios and Ben Weddle. Special thanks to the Kansas City Zoo.

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Kauffman Center Debuts Seven Spotify Playlists

Change up your daily routine with our seven new Kauffman-Center-inspired Spotify playlists. Whether you are an avid jazz fan, a ballet buff or a Broadway enthusiast, these playlists will transport you back to your favorite live performances in Muriel Kauffman Theatre and Helzberg Hall. Each carefully curated playlist features artists and performances that have graced Kauffman Center stages.

Whether you choose to work your way through each playlist or focus only on your favorite genre, we are sure these playlists will become staples in your music library.

Visit the Kauffman Center’s Spotify profile or search “Kauffman Center” on Spotify to explore all seven playlists today!

LISTEN NOW

 

Read more about each playlist below:

Best of: Kauffman Center Presents

Featuring some of the most notable Kauffman Center Presents performers to grace our stages, this playlist will keep you entertained and wanting more. From Aretha Franklin to Blondie to Willie Nelson, there is something for everyone to love. Turn up the volume and get ready for an eclectic playlist that elevates your daily routine.

Best of: Symphony

This playlist features musical works by the Kansas City Symphony and other orchestras that have appeared at the Kauffman Center over the years like the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony and more. While there is nothing like hearing great music in Helzberg Hall this playlist comes in a close second.

Best of: Opera

Featuring powerful and poignant selections from operas that have been performed at the Kauffman Center, this playlist will have you shouting “Bravo!” You’ll be ready to sing out arias, duets and grand finales from “Turandot” to “Carmen” to “Madame Butterfly,” alongside some notable opera virtuosos.

Best of: Jazz

Looking for a playlist to get your energy up? Look no further than our “Best of: Jazz” playlist. This playlist features a lineup of jazz musicians and vocalists that have performed at the Kauffman Center, including the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, Branford Marsalis, Herbie Hancock and Kenny G. Get ready for a mix of smooth stylings, toe-tapping tunes and syncopated rhythms.

Best of: Ballet

Whether you are practicing pliés, stretching or studying at your desk, the “Best of: Ballet” playlist captures the musical magic of numerous ballets performed on the Muriel Kauffman Theatre stage. You will be transported back to scenes from some of your favorite works, including “Cinderella,” “The Nutcracker” and “Swan Lake.” It is the perfect playlist to inspire your inner dancer.

Best of: Musicals

Composed of popular numbers from musicals performed at the Kauffman Center, let this playlist transport you center stage. Get your Broadway fix as you sing along with the casts of “The Color Purple,” “Chicago,” “Bring it On,” “A Chorus Line” and many more of your favorites.

Best of: Pipe Organ

The jewel of Helzberg Hall, the Julia Irene Kauffman Casavant Organ, Opus 3875 is unmatched in majestic sound quality. Tune into this playlist to hear pipe organ works performed by some of the best organists to have appeared at the Kauffman Center, including some works performed by the Center’s own Organ Conservator, Jan Kraybill.

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Staying connected with Kauffman Center Ensemble members

Bringing the music to you

Kansas City native Vanessa Thomas wows Ensemble members on the stage of Muriel Kauffman Theatre with her five-octave vocal range. Photo by Ellie Fehlig.

The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts has been exploring new and creative virtual ways to connect with Kauffman Center patrons, members, volunteers and donors while our stages have been dark.

Three times a year, we invite Kauffman Center Ensemble business members to the Center for a PNC Pop-Up, a unique networking opportunity and surprise musical performance from a local up-and-coming artist.  Previous PNC Pop-Up artists have included Calvin Arsenia, Eboni Fondren, Beau Bledsoe and Kelly Hunt.

Ukulele loop artist Eems blends styles from pop and dance to hip-hop and folk in Brandmeyer Great Hall. Photo by Don Ipock.

With the postponement of all activity at the Center, including PNC Pop-Ups, we set out to find a way to bring the event online and into your living rooms. We created PNC Pop-Up: At Home Edition.  Several Ensemble members contributed a mix of their favorite local and national artists to include in an e-blast sent out to all members. From Pink Martini and U2, to Young the Giant and Tim McGraw, members shared an eclectic range of songs that inspire them while working from home. We included links to YouTube videos where members could watch recorded concerts of these artists.

“We play music outside by the fire each night to decompress and try to enjoy the world slowing down for a bit.” – Melissa Lavin-Hickey, Principal & Director of Corporate Marketing for Burns & McDonnell

“The first time I saw Pink Martini live at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, I became a forever fan!” – Jill McCarthy, Senior Executive of Corporate Attraction for Kansas City Area Development Council

Ensemble business members and special guests listen to local Americana musicians Barnaby Bright on the stage of Helzberg Hall. Photo by Don Ipock.

With this e-blast of virtual musical performances, we brought the power of the performing arts straight to our Ensemble members’ homes as a reminder of how the arts connect us with one another through these unprecedented times.

The Ensemble business membership program empowers the Kauffman Center’s vision by bringing together Kansas City metro area companies who value a thriving, creative and innovative economy. We do this by connecting members, their clients and employees to inspiring activities and performances at the Kauffman Center throughout the year. To learn more, please visit kauffmancenter.org/ensemble.

Thank you to PNC Bank for sponsoring the Ensemble Business Membership program.

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Annual Future Stages Festival goes virtual

Photo by Jessica Gebhards

Summer in Kansas City is synonymous with plenty of family-friendly activities, but none more so than Future Stages Festival at the Kauffman Center. Each summer since 2014, the Kauffman Center has showcased hundreds of youth performance groups in the Kansas City area and welcomed more than 30,000 guests to enjoy exciting acts and dozens of kid-friendly activities.

When the 2020 Future Stages Festival was canceled due to COVID-19 and the Center couldn’t welcome guests and performers back into its iconic spaces, it was time to find an innovative and engaging way to ensure the show would go on.

In just two short months, the Kauffman Center crafted a virtual experience that maintained the charm and impact of the festival. The newly adapted event featured a full day of captivating performance videos, youth-friendly creative activities and original livestreamed content, including a Q&A with a Kansas City Ballet dancer, Kansas City Symphony musician and a local actor.

Hundreds of youth performers in more than 35 entertaining and compelling groups took to the virtual stage. The acts ranged from cultural dance groups to orchestras, percussion bands to choirs and more! Some of the most viewed videos from the festival include Crescendo in Motion, K Company’s Lion King and Hamilton Excerpts, Caruthers Creative Center Dance Studio, HK Chinese Folk Dance Group and Kamryn Henderson’s Vocal Performance.

More than 20 community partners contributed do-it-at-home craft and activity content, including how-to videos, coloring sheets and instructions to “Make your Own Kauffman Center Toy Theater.” Movement and Dance Demonstrations from Kansas City Ballet, Story Time with the Kansas City Public Library and Lessons on Stage Combat with Heart of America Shakespeare Festival are just a few of the videos that garnered dozens of views throughout the festival day.

Caruthers Dance Studios during the 2019 Future Stages Festival – Photo by Ju-Young Morimot

Crescendo in Motion during the 2019 Future Stages Festival  – Photo by Aaron Mason

Kauffman Center staff members also shared their talents by creating content for the festival. Susan Campain shared instructions for no-sew crafts, Donna Miller-Brown showed viewers how to make creative 3D paper constructions and Don Hovis gave festival-goers a better understanding of how the Kauffman Center’s Fly System is used to “fly” set pieces on and off stage. These are only a few of the staff-created videos available online.

Livestreamed content was especially popular during virtual Future Stages Festival. Kauffman Center staff members took attendees on virtual tours of the Kauffman Center’s front-of-house and back-of-house spaces, and shared little-known facts about the Center. From the strength of the windows in Brandmeyer Great Hall to how giant sets are taken on and off stage, these live tours covered it all.​

Don Hovis teaches patrons about the Muriel Kauffman Theatre fly system in a video demonstration

Interview featuring KC Ballet dancer Fiona Lee, KC Symphony Associate Principal Flutist Shannon Finney and KC actor Chioma Anyanwu

In addition, the Kauffman Center hosted a live Q&A panel with Kansas City Ballet dancer Fiona Lee, Kansas City Symphony Associate Principal Flutist Shannon Finney and Kansas City actor Chioma Anyanwu. These four livestreams were widely enjoyed by festival-goers. Views for these videos are increasing daily, with more than 13,300 views! The four live conversations are still available for viewing on the Kauffman Center’s Facebook page.

Our commitment to support and celebrate talented young artists in the Kansas City Metropolitan area doesn’t stop here. Whether online or in person, the Kauffman Center will continue to shine a spotlight on local young talent and provide an outlet to explore artistic ambitions.

If you missed virtual Future Stages Festival event, don’t worry, content is still available on the Kauffman Center’s website and Facebook page You can complete a short survey about your experience, and if you like what you see, please consider making a donation at kauffmancenter.org/give.

Future Stages Festival is presented by Premier Partner Saint Luke’s Health System


This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts

Additional support provided by

Courtney S. Turner Charitable Trust, John H. Mize Jr. and Bank of America, NA, Trustees

           

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Look for the Blue Vest

Volunteers are Vital to Kauffman Center’s Success

Volunteer Terri Curran pumps up students during a recent school matinee. On average, there are more than 30 school matinees each year that require volunteer support. Photo by Brittany Zarco

On average, more than 500 volunteers contribute 51,000 hours annually to the Center. While most volunteers do not have formal customer service experience, their diverse backgrounds, cultures and previous professions create an inclusive and friendly environment. Around every corner is a smiling face and helping hand. Volunteers are easy to spot in their iconic blue vests, and they carry out a variety of tasks at performances, from taking tickets to greeting guests, to assisting with security screenings.

When asked why he chose to begin volunteering at the Kauffman Center Mark Gardner said, “…because the arts are a vital part of a thriving Kansas City, and I want to help. I love and look forward to working with the staff, the volunteers … where else can you have such a memorable impact on so many people in an evening? It is quite amazing!”

Howard Pitler, Mark Dickerson, Mark Gardner and Dennis Connor have some fun during the holiday season. In December alone, volunteers work an average of 5 shifts for a total of more than 1,900 shifts worked. Photo by Jenny DeFreece

About 60 volunteers are needed to help run each performance, and often the Kauffman Center will have two performances running simultaneously, requiring even more volunteer support. Events are scheduled around the clock, including daytime matinees and evening, weekday and weekend performances, providing volunteer opportunities that fit every schedule. Volunteers who work at least 15 shifts a year are considered “active” members meaning that they are invited to attend special events and receive additional perks throughout the season.

One of the perks granted to active volunteers is an invitation to the annual Volunteer Ice Cream Social and Trivia Night, which takes place during Volunteer Appreciation Month in April. At this event, volunteers are treated to snacks, games and prizes. Prizes, donated by local businesses, can vary from gift cards, to concert/sporting tickets, to memberships to local attractions. Additionally, each summer, a Volunteer Recognition Event is held, and five volunteers who exhibited the highest level of professional, positive and exceptional customer service that season are awarded the Kauffman Spirit Award. These individuals will have made a significant contribution to our mission to “create devoted constituents and enhance the satisfaction for all who come to the Kauffman Center.” They are recognized for serving each patron with dignity and respect. Chairman of the Kauffman Center Board, Julia Irene Kauffman, presents this award annually and to date has bestowed the award to 40 deserving volunteers.

Kauffman Spirit Award winners with Chairman of the Board Julia Irene Kauffman and President & CEO Paul Schofer. (Left to right) Jennifer Wehmeyer, Mark Gardner, Julia Irene Kauffman, Carolyn Curtis, Nancy Rhoades, Phil Caldarella and Paul Schofer. Photo by David Riffel

“Receiving one of the Kauffman Spirit Awards was truly one of the highlights of my life,” said 2019 Kauffman Spirit Award Winner Phil Caldarella. “To be recognized for my service at the Kauffman Center with this prestigious award was a true blessing and honor. It is a reflection of my job in making the Kauffman Center patron experience the best that it can be. Being recognized in front of my fellow volunteers, the team captains, the team leads, the patron services team and the executive staff is something I will always treasure. Finally, to have this award presented to me by our distinguished Chairman of the Board, Julia Irene Kauffman, made it even more special and rewarding. I am truly blessed to be a part of the Kauffman Center family.”

The dedication displayed by volunteers is astounding, and the Kauffman Center distinguishes its volunteers by the total number of hours an individual has donated to the Center. There are six levels:

  • Active (less than 100 hours) – currently 90 volunteers at this level
  • Bronze (100 volunteer hours) – currently 108 volunteers at this level
  • Silver (250 volunteer hours) – currently 124 volunteers at this level
  • Gold (500 volunteer hours) – currently 84 volunteers at this level
  • Royal (1,000 volunteer hours) – currently 86 volunteers at this level
  • Diamond (2,500+ volunteer hours) – currently 11 volunteers at this level

Members who have devoted thousands of hours to the Center are honored with additional perks. Royal Volunteers get their name added on a plaque displayed in the volunteer office and are invited to a special reception before the Volunteer Recognition Event in July. Volunteers who reach Diamond status are given a “performance night out” package including two tickets to a performance, valet parking, dinner for two, a meet and greet with a performer, and two complimentary Kauffman bar beverages. In addition, every fall, the Kauffman Center hosts a luncheon for volunteers who have been with the Center for five seasons.

A group of volunteers show their KC pride during the Chiefs’ Super Bowl run in January 2020. Photo by Jenny DeFreece

Volunteer recruitment takes place once a year. Applicants must be 18 years of age or older, should be comfortable working with a variety of individuals and be able to treat all volunteers, team members and guests with dignity and respect at all times. If you are interested in applying to become a volunteer, please email volunteer@kauffmancenter.org to be placed on the contact list and have an application emailed directly to you. Or visit the volunteer page on the Kauffman Center website.

The Kauffman Center is thankful for all the hard work volunteers put into making a visit to the Center memorable for patrons each season. Their smiling faces and warm personalities are instrumental in providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who visit the Center. As the Kauffman Center approaches its 10-year anniversary, it is evident that our volunteers are indispensable to the Center’s success.

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