Keeping Audiences on the Edge of Their Seats

The Kauffman Center donors on this page made gifts to the Seat Naming Campaign which benefits the Center’s operating endowment. Their contributions are investments in Kansas City’s performing arts future and help to build an extraordinary landmark and ensure great performing arts experiences for years to come. For more information about making a gift to the Kauffman Center, please contact Christopher Beal at 816-994-7219 or

Emily and Dick Ballentine

Emily and Dick Ballentine

As Kansas City Symphony season subscribers for more than 30 years, Emily and Dick Ballentine have been thinking about how they wanted to support the Kauffman Center. When the seat naming opportunity was announced, they realized it was just the ticket.

Emily, a graduate from the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance in organ performance, especially looks forward to hearing the pipe organ in the concert hall. Dick has co-authored several books about hiking in Kansas City and is ready to add the park atop the Kauffman Center garage to his list of great urban walks.

“You’ll see us at the ballet and other types of events, as well,” Emily says. “We’re eager to enjoy all aspects of the Kauffman Center.”

Holcom Family

Tom and Denise Holcom

When Tom and Denise Holcom married, they looked for special ways to blend their family holiday traditions. So, in 1984, they began taking Matt, Daniel and Scott to a Saturday night performance of “The Nutcracker.” The following day was proclaimed “Holcom Christmas Sunday,” always incorporating friends and additional family. Every year the boys each got a nutcracker as one of their gifts, now part of three treasured collections in their own homes.

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of this tradition led to a contribution to the Kauffman Center. “We thought that naming five seats in the Kauffman Center was a great idea and the boys agreed,” says Denise. “Plus each plaque was generous enough to reference our Nutcracker tradition and hold one family member’s name.”

The Holcoms have also purchased a handprint on the Children’s Wall for their grandchild. “We did it when Eoghan was two months old and we hope that he’s the youngest person represented,” Denise adds.

Martha Lee Cain Tranby

Martha Lee Cain Tranby

Martha Tranby had a deep belief in the power of music to affect people’s lives for the better. For more than 45 years, her musical contributions were numerous. She was a high school music teacher, gave private piano lessons in her home, played the organ at her church and directed the choir at two others.

Although a person of modest means, Tranby carefully planned her finances and was able to establish a charitable fund at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation in 1991. Since her death in 2004, her legacy has continued through grants that primarily engage and encourage young people in their artistic interests.

“If Martha were alive today, she would definitely want to be part of the Kauffman Center,” says Myron Sildon, Tranby’s attorney and president of the Martha Lee Cain Tranby Music Enrichment Fund advisory board. “Placing her name on a seat will remind audiences of her vision for years to come.”

Dean Earl Cavanaugh

Shawsie Branton Honors Dean Earl Cavanaugh

Seat naming provides a terrific way to remember someone meaningful in your life, says donor Shawsie Branton. Shawsie donated a seat and named it after Dean Earl Cavanaugh, dean emeritus of Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral in downtown Kansas City.

“Dean Cavanaugh not only led the congregation of an urban church for 19 years, he was deeply involved in the life of Kansas City’s downtown,” says Branton. “Plus he just loved the Symphony, and so did his wife, Nancy. Naming a seat as a memorial to his life and work made sense to me.”

Cavanaugh was the sixth dean of Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, serving from 1976 to 1995. Branton became senior warden at the cathedral soon after Cavanaugh arrived in Kansas City, and they undertook many projects together. “He established the Kansas City Community Kitchen, built a new parish hall, and kept his congregation growing, even through difficult times,” says Branton.

Cavanaugh died in 2007, but his legacy continues in many important ways.

To learn more about how you can support the Kauffman Center and honor those close to you, visit our seat naming page.