Schutte Foundation gift will make the Kauffman Center gleam

Window washing equipmentAsk Jane Chu what common questions she gets about the Kauffman Center and she’ll tell you that "How are you going to clean all that glass?" tops the list.

Fortunately the answer to that question has just become clearer because of a $250,000 gift from the Victor E. and Caroline E. Schutte Foundation. "The Schutte trustees told us upfront that they were willing to consider a need that is essential but not necessarily evident to others," said Jane Chu, president and CEO of the Kauffman Center. "We immediately began exploring their interest in helping us to acquire vital window-washing equipment."

The resulting grant will purchase a mechanical lift that allows workers to easily and safely reach the 95 foot heights — and all the nooks and crannies — of the impressive glass lobby. The lift must flex to fit through the center’s doorways and meet specifications for use on high quality, low-load floors. Both Victor Schutte and his wife Caroline worked in the family business, Schutte Lumber Company, which was founded in 1880. Over the years they accumulated considerable company stock which they used to found the Victor E. and Caroline E. Schutte Foundation. The foundation’s priorities focus on health care and women in business (as Caroline led the company for 30 years after her husband’s death).

"While the arts are a bit outside of our usual areas of focus, we saw the Kauffman Center as a real game-changer for our community and decided that the Schutte Foundation wanted to be part of this project," co-trustee David Frantze explains. Frantze, an attorney at Stinson Morrison Hecker discussed the issue with co- trustee Spence Heddens of Bank of America, who agreed that the Schutte Foundation should find a way to support the Kauffman Center. "When Jane suggested the window-washing equipment, it made a lot of sense. We knew that this equipment is essential for a mostly-glass building that will become an iconic part of the Kansas City landscape," Frantze said. Both trustees felt that this type of practical project would have appealed to the Schuttes, whose company provided resources like lumber for many of Kansas City’s projects over the last century.

"We often tell donors that they are helping us to reach new heights for the performing arts in Kansas City," Jane Chu explains. "In the case of the Schutte Foundation gift, that remark can be taken literally."

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