Open Doors Program Continues Connecting the Community to the Performing Arts

Kauffman Center celebrates Open Doors program successes in the past year

StoneLion Puppet Theatre has fun with guests at Future Stages Festival. Photo by Jillian Shoptaw.

StoneLion Puppet Theatre has fun with guests at the Kauffman Center’s fourth annual Future Stages Festival. Photo by Jillian Shoptaw.

The Kauffman Center’s Open Doors program connects young people to the arts through three major components:

  • The Open Doors Spotlight on Youth initiative contains several programs that inspire and nurture the next generation of artists, arts patrons and arts professionals with access to the Kauffman Center’s staff, stages and resources.
  • The Open Doors Community Tickets program offers access to programming at the Kauffman Center for youth and families through reduced prices or free tickets.
  • The Open Doors Transportation Fund offers bus funding to schools in the metropolitan area so bringing students to the Kauffman Center for school matinee performances is more affordable.

The Kauffman Center has been creating new programming and reaching new audiences through these initiatives since opening in 2011. Over the course of the past year, however, the Open Doors program has shown particular growth, and the Kauffman Center is proud to consistently engage the community while serving schools, students, and families through a wide range of programs.

Visitors participate in a Kansas City Ballet workshop on the Community Partner Stage at Future Stages Festival 2017

Visitors participate in a Kansas City Ballet workshop at Future Stages Festival 2017. Photo by Mason Kilpatrick.

As part of the Spotlight on Youth initiative, the fourth annual Future Stages Festival in June 2017 showcased more than 800 youth artists performing on the stages in Muriel Kauffman Theatre, Helzberg Hall and on Saint Luke’s Outdoor Stage, constructed specifically for this festival. Nearly 5,000 guests attended the free event.

The festival featured many new elements this year including a Community Partner Stage where attendees were encouraged to participate in the festival’s art through dance workshops, drum circles, and even acrobatic displays. Guests were also invited to explore more than 20 available arts activities in between enjoying performances. In addition, the festival performer experience was heightened this year through, additional rehearsal time, backstage volunteer assistance and even a commemorative  gift for each performer to take home.

Through the Open Doors Community Tickets program, nearly 800 tickets were given out to the community last year. Since the Kauffman Center’s opening in 2011, the program has provided more than 2,000 tickets. Among many other community partners, Cornerstones of Care – Healthy Families, FosterAdopt Connect, Ozanam Pathways and Jewish Vocational Services are some of the agencies that the Kauffman Center engages regularly through this program.

Buses line up for another student matinee at the Kauffman Center. Photo by Sandy Woodson.

Buses line up for another student matinee at the Kauffman Center. Photo by Sandy Woodson.

Since the 2011 Kauffman Center grand opening, more than 250,000 students have attended a performance in the building, and the Open Doors Transportation Fund has assisted in transporting 131,000 students from the Kansas City metropolitan area. Last year, the fund provided this assistance to approximately 22,000 students from more than 200 local schools.


The Kauffman Center annually hosts the wildly popular National Geographic Live school matinee series, and this year is no exception. The matinees during the spring semester will feature underwater photographer Brian Skerry on Tuesday January 9, 2018; wildlife photographer Florian Schulz on Tuesday, February 6, 2018; and marine biologist/photographer Cristina Mittermeier on Tuesday, March 6, 2018. Teachers can get more details and request tickets here. In addition, teachers can apply for transportation assistance funding to attend these matinees here.

The 5th annual Future Stages Festival will be held Sunday, June 10, 2018. This fun and free community event features youth performers from a wide range of performing arts styles. School choirs, bands, and theater groups are encouraged to submit an application to perform. Performance applications for the 2018 festival will open on the Kauffman Center’s website near the end of 2017.

Click here to find out more about the Kauffman Center’s Open Doors programming.

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