Monday, September 19, 2011

The Kauffman Center for Performing Arts in Kansas City

If Sunday was any indication of how excited Kansas Citians are about the new Kauffman Center for Performing Arts, I can’t imagine what it will be like when the performances actually begin. Here’s a photo of the line of people waiting in the cold grey rain that was falling all day. The weather was no deterrent for many – although I decided I’d try for a tour on another day. The enthusiasm today reflects the commitment our community has had to this project since it was announced over 10 years ago.
If you aren’t familiar with the project, this article from the NY Times last week highlights the Kauffman Center as one of the most ambitious projects to be completed in the current economic downturn. Paid for entirely by private funds that were seeded by the Kauffman family, the Center will serve as the performance venue for the KC Symphony, the KC Ballet and the Lyric Opera. In addition, it will serve as a performing arts gathering place for a city that has never had a facility of this scale with the ability accommodate the needs of so many groups.
Even though I didn’t make it inside the building Sunday, I was awestruck by the size of the building. From a distance, its arcing outline fills a huge space in the downtown skyline but until you walk up to it you don’t realize the immensity of it. Designed by Moshe Safdie with acoustics by Yasu Toyota, the Kauffman Center will test the talents of Kansas City’s musicians and visitors. Not only will it raise the quality of performances, the unbelievably engineered sound quality will raise the bar on our performers and challenge them to achieve new levels of expertise.
I’m proud to live in a community that recognizes that in down times, one great way to grow the economy of a city is to invest in the arts. I have no doubt in my mind that the opening of the Kauffman Center will attract visitors from across the city, the region and the country much like the opening of the new wing of the Nelson Atkins Musuem of Art did in 2007. The improved quality of performances and the capabilities of the new venue should help the Symphony, the Ballet and the Opera bring their programs to new and potentially repeat customers. In addition, the ability to host performances that previously bypassed Kansas City will bring opportunities to the local community to see a wider array of national and international performers.
Stay tuned for my next visit to the Kauffman Center. With any luck, I’ll make it into the building next time!

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