A standing ovation for KC's arts communities
The Kansas City Star
Sporting events in Kansas City get plenty of attention because of their sizzle factor.
But arts performances also bring home the bacon.
Promoters of local arts groups are pointing with pride to new reports that show the crucial economic impact of arts and culture in the region.
The arts industry produced spending of $273 million in 2010, with $69 million coming from audiences and the rest spent by groups on construction of buildings and other expenses.
Cultural organizations supported 8,346 full-time jobs.
Arts activities created $9 million in revenue for local governments.
Impressive, too, is the Local Arts Index study that ranked Kansas City third for audience participation in arts activities, behind only St. Louis and Washington, D.C.
The reports back up what many Kansas Citians have had the pleasure of knowing for years. This region is becoming more attractive to young, bright workers because of its wide variety of arts-related events.
One is the KC Fringe Festival, which will run through July 29 at venues in the Crossroads and midtown. Many of the shows — featuring actors, directors and other artists taking risks by trying out new plays — run for about an hour. For more information on show times, go to KCFringe.org.
And at 9 tonight, the Kansas City Symphony will be featured in a national PBS broadcast that includes a performance by mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, a native of Prairie Village.
That performance, naturally, was delivered at Kansas City’s newest icon, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
It’s impossible to say just how important the new center has become for many of this city’s arts communities. Already it has helped spur serious discussion about moving the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance to downtown. That will take time and money to build, but the best spot would be somewhere close to the Kauffman Center.
In addition, the center has received rave national reviews, boosted ticket sales and generally become a rallying cry for many arts organizations. In other words, if Kansas City can come together to build something so special and so grand as the Kauffman Center, certainly this region can do even more to build up other parts of its arts programs.
The new economic reports should help the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City as well as other cultural organizations further refine their strategies for building an even more vibrant arts scene in this region. A plan that taps into the strengths of groups in all corners of the metro area is a wise idea. It’s possible it could help lead to a regional funding plan down the road.
New facilities are always on a wish list, of course, starting with the proposed UMKC conservatory. But it’s encouraging that modern facilities for the symphony and ballet (near Union Station) have been completed in the last year or so. They will have good, secure homes for decades to come.
As the arts scene continues to grow, even more world-class performers should be invited — and will be drawn to — our world-class venues. To protect and build future audiences, arts promoters must do even more to reach out to younger audiences in a host of smaller settings, including events at schools and smaller local theaters.
Overall, the arts industry is thriving in Kansas City, artistically and economically. And that deserves a standing O.