Students actively learn through the Backstage Intensive Program

Center High School students in Muriel Kauffman Theatre before beginning a backstage tour led by Production Services Manager Don Hovis.
Photo by Sarah Milosevich.

Backstage Intensive, an Open Doors Spotlight on Youth initiative, allows students to participate in a special behind-the-scenes experience at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. After two years of presenting this program virtually, Backstage Intensive is back to being offered in-person this season. Face-to-face interactions with students provide a deeper and more personal understanding of all the elements and roles it takes to put on a flawless performance.

During the Backstage Intensive experience students are introduced to careers within technical theatre including lighting, sound and stage management. In addition, they learn about administrative roles such as marketing, ticketing and patron services. Students gain a valuable understanding of the hard work and collaboration it takes to run a premier performing arts venue. 

This fall, three local schools took part in the Backstage Intensive program, Center High School, Ruskin High School and Turner High School. 

Each Backstage Intensive date started with a tour of Muriel Kauffman Theatre, Helzberg Hall and the backstage spaces at the Kauffman Center. After this comprehensive tour, students engaged in demonstrations and presentations with staff members from various departments and disciplines.

“It was a very educational and fun experience,” said a Center High School junior.

Students learn about stage management and participate in a hands-on activity with Director of Theater Operations Sara Beatty, CVP.
Photo by Albania Andrade.

Eric Miller, production services manager, provides insight into how lighting designs are created and planned.
Photo by Sarah Milosevich.

The impact of the Backstage Intensive program on students is invaluable. Many times, those who participate in this program have never been exposed to an environment or backstage space like those at the Kauffman Center. This is a great way for them to see all the job opportunities at a performing arts center.

A 10th-grade-student from Ruskin High School said, “I will use this information to consider my future.”  

“The Backstage Intensive program has shown my students a multitude of ways they can pursue a career in theatre. The most impactful experience for them was being on the stages and learning about the lighting effects from the demonstrations,” said Mr. Moyer, theater teacher at Ruskin High School.

He believes that it’s great to have students participate in interactive workshops facilitated by onsite professionals. These engaging activities are always memorable to them.

Students inside the Muriel Kauffman Theatre’s sound booth learn about audio techniques and equipment used during performances.
Photo by Sarah Milosevich.

At the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, we want everyone to experience excellence. The Open Doors Spotlight on Youth initiatives offers a diverse set of programs that connect young people with the thriving performing arts venue.

To learn more about the Backstage Intensive program and other programs offered for school groups, visit 









Leadership in the Arts

Joan Israelite Receives Missouri Arts Council’s Leadership in the Arts Award for 2023

Joan Israelite

The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is thrilled to announce that Joan Israelite has received the 2023 Leadership in the Arts award from the Missouri Arts Council, the state’s highest honor in the arts.

Israelite has been a tireless force since the mid-’80s for creating policy, raising funds and growing arts organizations. She was the founding CEO of ArtsKC and a nine-year board member for the Missouri Arts Council and the National Council on the Arts, an organization that advises the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts on agency policies and programs.

For the Kauffman Center, Israelite has been involved since the beginning in 2008. When the dream of a new, state-of-the-art Kansas City performing arts center was born, she and the capital campaign committee worked strategically to raise $366 million to construct the building and create an endowment. As a key fundraiser, Israelite reached out to prospects at all levels and backgrounds. She gave countless hardhat tours and developed innovative fundraising programs, such as the seat plaque and Children’s Wall campaigns. She was a key architect of the Open Doors program, which reduces barriers to attending performances at the Kauffman Center.

Still a member of the Kauffman Center team, Israelite brings her high energy and inventiveness to the Kauffman Center as a development consultant, raising funds for annual operations and the endowment.

Kansas City’s — and the region’s — most prominent and influential arts administrators, advocates and elected officials routinely contact Israelite, seeking guidance regarding arts programming, education, fundraising and issues related to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility. In addition, she has met with more than 50 young women seeking career advice and has advocated for the inclusion of women in leadership positions in the arts and nonprofit organizations.

Joan Israelite’s ability to lead, build consensus and nurture relationships has earned her the unofficial title, Joan of Arts. She has left an indelible mark in the arts community.

Earlier this fall, Joan and Steve Israelite were also honored with the 2022 Heartland Humanitarians of the Year from the Truman Heartland Community Foundation.

Learn more about the 2023 Missouri Arts Awards.

Winter Wonderland at The Dining Experience









A mistle-toast to the holiday season!

For the second year in a row, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is pleased to welcome guests to a special holiday pop-up: Winter Wonderland at The Dining Experience.

Join the Kauffman Center for holiday cocktail fun!

Although The Dining Experience has always been known for its first-class food and sophisticated atmosphere, this holiday season the Founders’ Lounge will be transformed into a Winter Wonderland!

Whether patrons are enjoying a matinee of the Kansas City Ballet’s The Nutcracker or the Kansas City Symphony’s performance of “Elf,” small plates and beverages are the perfect accompaniment to an evening at the Kauffman Center.

Last year’s pop-up was extremely popular, selling out in weeks. Executive Chef Laura Comer knew patrons would be pleased to welcome it back.

“Dining during the holiday season is an important part of making memories. We want Kansas City to think of the Kauffman Center when they plan their memorable holiday celebrations!” Comer said.

Comer has carefully curated an exciting and seasonal menu. Small plates include baked brie, paninis and local sausages in a blanket. The beverage menu features house-made eggnog, holiday-themed cocktails and non-alcoholic options.

Perhaps most exciting are the offerings for the whole family. Children can enjoy The Dining Experience’s Paint Your Own Holiday Cookie and Polar Express Hot Chocolate Cart.

Winter Wonderland is now open for select dates in December. Reservations and a $25 deposit (later applied to your total bill) are required and can be made at

Kauffman Center’s Community Tickets presented by PNC

From front to back, Firefighter Captains Anna Koons and Terry Hill, US Air Force Master Sergeant Justin Butler and US Air Force Veteran Jon Bohlander and wife Wendy Bohlander enjoy the Red Carpet Treatment at the Oct. 6 performance of Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

Rolling Out the Red Carpet for Our Community

An enthusiastic group of veterans, active-duty military and first responders recently got the star treatment at the Kauffman Center. Using complimentary tickets provided through Kauffman Center’s Community Tickets presented by PNC, 67 special guests had a night on the town and experienced the distinctive stylings of country music legend Marty Stuart on Oct. 6, 2022.

U.S. Air Force Veteran Jon Bohlander and his wife Wendy Bohlander at Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives on Oct. 6

“We really appreciated the opportunity to enjoy Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives, live at the amazing Kauffman Center,” said Captain Terry Hill who attended with firefighting colleague Captain Anna Koons. “The night was terrific, and we know we will have these great memories for a lifetime! Thank you everyone that made this possible.”

Open Doors Community Tickets program sponsored by PNC works with local social service agencies, schools and under-served communities to identify children, families, veterans, first responders and others who might not otherwise be able to attend live performing arts events. For this most recent group of recipients, Kauffman Center staff worked with Vet Tix, a non-profit organization whose mission is to distribute tickets to military service members and veterans across the U.S.

Kyle Myers, Regional President and Head of Corporate Banking of PNC Bank, Kansas City explains why PNC supports this program. “PNC is committed to strengthening and enriching the lives of fellow neighbors in communities where we live and work. We support the Kauffman Center for many reasons but finding a means for everyone to enjoy live performing arts through the Community Tickets program was an especially great match with our goals,” said Myers.

U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant Justin Butler appreciated the red-carpet treatment he experienced at the October concert. “Two friends and I had a great opportunity through Vet Tix to watch Marty Stuart in concert at the Kauffman Center. That is one of the best venues I’ve been to! Thank you to everyone involved for providing such a great experience,” said Butler.

To find out more our Community Tickets program, visit

Mannheim Steamroller Takes the Stage This November

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas - Nov. 20

Best Selling Christmas Artist of all Time Comes to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts Nov. 20, 2022

Chip Davis, founder and creator of Mannheim Steamroller, will celebrate over 35 Years of his annual Christmas concert tour, making it the longest-running concert tour in the entertainment industry!

Davis said the hallmark tour will begin on Nov. 15, 2022, and run through December 30, 2022. Two traveling ensembles will hold performances in cities across the country. The tour will stop at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City on Nov. 20, 2022, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets go on sale to the public Friday, July 29 at 10 a.m. and will be available at or by calling 816.994.7222.

“I remember when I came out with my first Christmas album in 1984 followed by our first tour. Back then, many in the music industry said focusing on Christmas just wouldn’t work,” said Davis.

“Now, over 35 years later, we are still going strong. I want to thank our fans for making us part of their holiday tradition, especially after the hardships of the last few years. Today we often see multi-generational families join us during the holidays each year.”

Davis founded his own record label, American Gramaphone, which went on to become one of the industry’s largest independent record labels. A Grammy Award winner, Mannheim Steamroller has sold more than 41 million albums, with over 31.5 million in the Christmas genre. Their holiday CDs have become synonymous with Christmas and occupy top positions on Billboard’s Seasonal Chart every year.

This year’s show will feature classic Christmas hits from the Mannheim Steamroller holiday albums along with multimedia effects in an intimate setting. Davis will direct and co-produce Tour performances with MagicSpace Entertainment.

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis is co-produced by MagicSpace Entertainment. The company is a boutique producing and presenting firm focused on first-class properties and productions. Based in Park City, UT, the company has produced and presented national tours, Broadway shows, concerts, museum exhibits and sporting events worldwide for over 40 years with a powerhouse producing team focused on providing creative, marketing and general management expertise.

About Chip Davis and Mannheim Steamroller

From his longtime home in Omaha, Neb., Mannheim Steamroller creator and founder Chip Davis makes innovative music inspired by the sounds of another age. This former teacher and jingle writer founded the music industry’s largest independent recording label, American Gramaphone, in 1974 when industry executives said Davis’ innovative 18th-century instrumental rock sound would never sell. In addition to a Grammy Award, Davis is largely credited with establishing the New Age music category.

His first Christmas album in 1984, revolutionized the making and marketing of holiday music, the album’s success made Christmas records a “must-do” for all music artists. With more than 31.5 million Christmas albums sold, Davis is the #1-selling Christmas artist of all time with Elvis coming in at a distant 17 million holiday records sold. Having 19 gold, 8 multi-platinum and 4 platinum-certified records, Davis is among an elite group of music artists with this number of RIAA records. He is also one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the music industry, offering a rich array of lifestyle products on including hot chocolate, food, apparel and novelty items. His latest achievement is creating a cutting-edge psychoacoustic technology that is being used in major medical institutions such as Mayo Clinic.

To connect with Mannheim Steamroller, please follow them on Twitter @MannheimSteam, like them on Facebook at or visit

Follow the Kauffman Center on FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube to get details about upcoming performances and behind-the-scenes access.

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