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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

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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