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During a Prolonged Intermission, the Kauffman Center Remains Connected to the Community

Photo by Jillian Shoptaw

Marking one year since the venue closed due to Covid-19, Kauffman Center continues to serve the community in a variety of ways.

In March of 2020, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts closed its doors to the public due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This was on the heels of what was likely to be another record-setting year programmatically, operationally and financially for the organization. Although the pandemic set back the momentum of performing arts organizations nationally, the Kauffman Center has continued to serve the community in new ways. Through the Kauffman Center website and digital platforms, this past year has resulted in creation and sharing of more than 120 videos with audiences. These videos reached more than 270,000 users and garnered more than 127,000 video views. With 479,000 impressions on this digital content, the Kauffman Center remained engaged with the community through virtual programs.

While the Kauffman Center stages have been quiet during the past year, excitement is building for the day when performances can again be enjoyed by audiences.

“Our team has done an extraordinary job of creating new, unique and innovative ways for the Kauffman Center to stay closely connected with our community,” President and CEO Paul Schofer said. “Although we continue to face uncertainties as to when we can yet again be together in person for performances, when the time is right, we will be ready to welcome our community with open arms. I’m certain the best is yet to come.”

Over the past year, the Kauffman Center launched several programs and initiatives to connect with various segments of the community and continues to create new and inventive ways to keep the organization engaged with patrons, students, donors and artists.

As schools moved to online learning classrooms, the Kauffman Center provided new FREE virtual resources to keep students and teachers connected to the performing arts. While more than 30,000 students normally visit the Kauffman Center annually for student matinee programs, student-centric virtual content garnered more than 24,000 views. Some of this content was sent directly to teachers to share with their classrooms. These students and teachers have had the opportunity to engage with additional virtual content from the Kauffman Center – making our programs remotely accessible to young audiences. Virtual content included:

Photo by Anand Varma.

  • Strings duo and Kauffman Center Presents series artists Black Violin presented a virtual concert and Q&A session that reached an estimated 20,774 viewers in February of 2021.
  • National Geographic Live photographers Anand Varma and Prasenjeet Yadav presented a virtual student matinee program that featured in-depth conversations about our natural world that was shared with nearly 5,000 educators.
  • Kauffman Center launched a new virtual Backstage Intensive program that connects technical theater students to the many facets of behind the curtain operations. Complete with videos and classroom activities, students get hands-on education on theater lighting, sound and more. This program is made possible by a grant from Cerner Charitable Foundation.
  • Our first ever virtual Future Stages Festival showcased hundreds of Kansas City’s talented young performing artists. Community partners and Kauffman Center staff provided an abundance of fun and educational family-friendly at-home activities. 79 videos and 39 activity pages created by 36 youth performance groups, 23 community partners and 14 Kauffman Center staff members reached over 6,680 views.
  • A newly created Julia Irene Kauffman Casavant Organ, Opus 3875 Classroom Guide was created and distributed to schools. The guide included organ facts, discussion questions and vocabulary practice for teachers to use and share with students. The guide accompanied a six-part video performance series featuring Organ Conservator Jan Kraybill.


The Kauffman Center looked to build community relationships with a host of virtual initiatives to provide fun, entertaining and interactive content through the organization’s digital channels. A few highlights include:


  • Fun Fact Friday – Sharing interesting facts about our building, programs and history.
  • Kansas City Strong – Paying tribute to the first responders and essential workers on the front lines of the pandemic.
  • Trivia Tuesday– Engaging the community with trivia about the Kauffman Center.
  • Talented KC– Turning our social media channels into a virtual stage for the community to share their talents online.
  • #KCFavePhoto – Providing an opportunity for our community to share their favorite pictures of the Kauffman Center through social media. More than 200 pictures of the Kauffman Center have now been submitted.

#KCFavePhoto submission by @addiegess


Developing partnerships with area organizations and artists, the Kauffman Center shared its virtual stage by developing new interactive videos and activities that provide FREE entertainment for the whole family. Examples include:

Jasiri the porcupine enjoys the spotlight of the Helzberg Hall stage.

  • Halloween videos developed in partnership with the Mesner Puppet Theater shed a little (ghost) light on several well-known theater superstitions with a virtual four-part series of spooky family-friendly stories told by puppet, Scary Mary Bumbershoot from inside the Kauffman Center.
  • A “wildly” clever video featuring several lovable critters visiting the Kauffman Center, created in partnership with the Kansas City Zoo.
  • A Behind the Curtain video series highlighting some of the unique inner workings of the Kauffman Center’s operations, including Stringing Holiday Lights, which provides a glimpse of how the rope lights are added to the building’s cables to add to the merriment and joy of the holiday season; and Washing the Building, which shows how our building’s beautiful exterior stays pristine with the help of washers that safely do their work up to 151 feet in the air.
  • Local painter and muralist Vania Soto brought her talents to the Kauffman Center with a video of her creating a Day of the Dead painting in Brandmeyer Great Hall while explaining the traditions of this Mexican holiday and what it means to her; and a Kauffman Center watercolor painting tutorial video producing a recognizable painting of the Kauffman Center.
  • A three-part DIY craft series inspired by the Kauffman Center, developed in partnership with ScrapsKC, a local non-profit creative reuse center.
  • FREE Virtual Trivia Nights, in which participants compete against fellow trivia lovers to puzzle out questions about the Kauffman Center, its history, the performing arts and Kansas City.


Providing quality performing arts experiences online took center stage as the Kauffman Center shared virtual concerts with at-home audiences.

  • The Kauffman Center rang in New Year’s Eve with Pink Martini’s “Good Riddance 2020” concert featuring fan favorites and holiday classics streamed to at-home audiences.
  • The Kauffman Center’s own Grammy-nominated Organ Conservator, Jan Kraybill, performed a six-part online organ concert series. These videos were shared with educators along with a newly created Julia Irene Kauffman Casavant Organ, Opus 3875 Classroom Guide complete with organ facts and vocabulary which was part of our education outreach initiatives.

    Local singer-songwriter Casi Joy.

  • The Kauffman Center, in partnership with PNC Bank, ArtsKC and the Power & Light District, celebrated National Arts & Humanities Month in November by providing virtual performances from several artists (shown in this teaser) previously featured in the PNC Pop-Up series at the Kauffman Center, including Calvin Arsenia, Hermon Mehari, Beau Bledsoe, Kelly Hunt, Jake Wells, Eboni Fondren, Barnaby Bright and Eems.
  • To stay connected to the Kauffman Center’s loyal season and single ticket holders, a virtual four-part National Geographic Live series was launched in February. Speaker events were offered for a one-time viewing experience to ticket holders. Livestream events were also shared with social service agencies through the Kauffman Center’s Community Ticket program.
  • To stay connected to our Spotlight Members, a holiday performance was livestreamed from the stage of Muriel Kauffman Theatre in December featuring local talent Casi Joy.
  • Nine Kauffman-Center-inspired Spotify playlists highlighted the music of numerous artists that have performed on the Muriel Kauffman Theatre and Helzberg Hall stages over the years, ranging from Aretha Franklin and Tony Bennett to the Best of the Symphony, Opera and Ballet.


This past year included the launch of several new ways for the community to enjoy the Kauffman Center at home.

  • Since October 2020, the Kauffman Center has offered the Dining Experience: At Home with special, seasonal three-course menu offerings. The Dining Experience: At Home features award-winning Executive Chef Laura Comer’s delectable culinary creations.
  • Charlie Hustle and Kauffman Center teamed up to debut a new line of shirts and a commemorative pin. As part of the Charlie Hustle’s Communi-Tees program, a portion of the proceeds from every Charlie Hustle Kauffman Center shirt or pin helps support the Kauffman Center’s mission of bringing extraordinary and diverse performing arts experiences to all.
  • A new online gift shop brings the great items that were formally only available at the Kauffman Center to you. Items include apparel, a jigsaw puzzle, mugs and more.

The Kauffman Center Charlie Hustle Collection launched Jan. 1, 2021. Find the collection in our online gift shop and through Charlie Hustle.

Follow the Kauffman Center on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get details about upcoming performances and behind-the-scenes access.

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Painting and Crafting with the Kauffman Center

A watercolor painting of the Kauffman Center, a Kauffman Center-inspired CD bookend, a sheet music snowflake, and a decorated CDBy this point, you’ve been at home a while — whether that means working from home, virtual learning or teaching or just staying in more often. That’s why we’re bringing you a few activities to take your mind off the mundane.

In November, we released a Kauffman Center painting tutorial led by local muralist and painter Vania Soto. With her easy-to-follow, step-by-step directions, anyone from a novice to an experienced painter can create a masterpiece.

For this project, you’ll need the following:

  1. A basic watercolor set and brush. Two brushes are recommended.
  2. Watercolor paper
  3. Printer paper and printer
  4. Four small pieces of tape
  5. Pencil or graphite stick
  6. Cup of water
  7. Ruler or other straight edge

Download Outline

Download the traceable outline and follow along with the video. Then, share your creation with us on social media by tagging @Kauffmancenter and @Artista_VaniaSoto.

For these next DIY crafts, we teamed up with ScrapsKC, a local non-profit with the mission to reuse, repurpose and renew odds and ends found around your home. This three-part series was filmed in the Kauffman Center’s various spaces with ScrapsKC’s Events and Education Coordinator, Courtney Christensen. Check out the instructions and supply lists below, and follow along to create your very own Kauffman Center-inspired CD bookends, CD weaving and sheet music paper snowflake.

Share your finished creations with us on social media by tagging @Kauffmancenter and @ScrapsKC.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to get more details about upcoming performances at the Kauffman Center and behind-the-scenes access.

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Pipe Organ Performances Featuring Grammy-nominated Organ Conservator Jan Kraybill

Between canceled performances and an empty building, our stunning Julia Irene Kauffman Casavant Organ, Opus 3875, has been lonely these past months.

However, with the help of our Grammy-nominated Organ Conservator, Jan Kraybill, we’ve found a way to share the beauty and sounds of this instrument and offer you the best seat in the house.

In a series of six short performance videos, Kraybill offers a brief synopsis of each work before she takes to the crown jewel of Helzberg Hall for an intimate concert just for you.

Intrigued by the organ itself and want to know more? We’ve compiled a few fun facts to share with you. Find more in our Google Arts & Culture exhibition.

  1. Québec-based firm Casavant Frères custom designed the mechanical action organ in the French romantic tradition, with 79 stops, 102 ranks and 5,548 pipes.
  2. The 125-year-old firm custom designed every piece of the Kauffman Center’s pipe organ. At the time of production, it was the largest mechanical action organ Casavant Frères had ever built.
  3. After it was produced and tested, the organ was disassembled and its 20,000 pieces were transported 1,368 miles from Québec to Kansas City.
  4. Only 80 pipes are visible, just more than 1 percent of the total; the rest live behind the steel-mesh covering at the north end of Helzberg Hall.
  5. The smallest pipe is the size of a pencil and the largest is 32 feet and weighs half a ton. The large visible wooden pipes are made of Douglas fir, matching the other wood elements of Helzberg Hall.
  6. It took two months of installation and two months of testing to “voice” the organ in Helzberg Hall. Much of this work was done overnight to accommodate the brand-new concert hall’s busy performance schedule.

We hope you enjoy virtually being back inside Helzberg Hall.

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Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble, Your Halloween Fun is About to Double

Theater lore of haunts and ghosts

Which one will scare you the most?

Scroll a bit, then press play

We’re sure this spook will make your day

From the tales of the ghost light to the origins of “break a leg,” theaters have plenty of eerie stories to tell. So, the Kauffman Center joined forces with Mesner Puppet Theater to shed a little (ghost) light on these common, yet not too well-understood superstitions. Enjoy our virtual four-part series of spooky (but family-friendly) stories from inside the Kauffman Center, starting with “The Tale of the Ghost Light.”

Watch as Scary Mary Bumbershoot, a fright in her own right, warns against whistling in a theater and shares a well-known name that should NEVER be uttered on stage…or else.

These four short videos are the perfect ghoulish treat for all ages.

Presented by Kauffman Center Premier Partner Saint Luke’s Health System.

Created in collaboration with Mesner Puppet Theater. Scary Mary Bumbershoot created and performed by Mike Horner.

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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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