Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is located in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, USA, at 16th and Broadway, near the Crossroads Arts District.  Its construction was an integral part of the ongoing redevelopment of downtown Kansas City.

The Center was created as a non-profit organization with no taxpayer funds going into its construction. However, the City of Kansas City contributed to and operated a parking garage adjacent to the Kauffman Center.

The Center is the Kansas City Symphony, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and the Kansas City Ballet, which in the past performed at the Lyric Theatre, eight blocks north of the center.  The Kauffman Center consists of two different performance venues: Muriel Kauffman Theatre and Helzberg Hall.

The mission of the Kauffman Center is “to enrich the lives of communities throughout the region, country, and world by offering extraordinary and diverse performing arts experiences.”  The Kauffman Center aims to fulfill this mission by offering a wide selection of performances and offering specific programs to attract the youth in the Kansas City area.

Founder of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Kansas City, Missouri

In 1994, Muriel McBrien Kauffman first discussed her idea for a performing arts center in Kansas City with her family and the community.  After her death the following year, her daughter and chairman of the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation, Julia Irene Kauffman, began implementing her vision.

In 1999, the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation purchased an 18.5-acre parcel of land just south of the central business district.  By 2000, the Metropolitan Kansas City Performing Arts Center board had narrowed down the list of potential architects to four.  They ultimately chose Moshe Safdie, an award-winning modernist known for such buildings as Habitat 67 in Montreal, Canada; the Khalsa Heritage Centre in India; the Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore; and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Soon after, he came to Kansas City to see the site for himself, and while at dinner with Julia Irene Kauffman, he sketched an idea for the center on his napkin.  Soon, that sketch would evolve into an architecturally famous icon and home for the performing arts in Kansas City.

Safdie officially presented his plan in May 2002, and four years later, on October 6, 2006, the ground was broken for what was to become the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

Grand Opening of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

The Grand Opening Celebration of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts was held on September 16 – 18, 2011.  The Friday night celebration, entitled “An Evening of Theatrical Delights,” christened the Muriel Kauffman Theatre.  Famous tenor Plácido Domingo gave a special concert accompanied by the Kansas City Symphony and Chorus, directed by Michael Stern.  Other performers earlier in the evening included Canadian Brass, the Kansas City Ballet, Tommy Tune, Patti LuPone, with special appearances by the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, the University of Missouri – Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, Robert Gibby Brand, and the Kansas City Symphony.

The night’s highlight featured the showing of “Projections,” an audio-visual production by Quixotic and the Baruch/Gayton Entertainment Group.  The graphic element of the production was projected onto the façade of the Kauffman Center and featured animation that made it appear as though the building was coming alive.  Live dancers were suspended from the building by cables so they could interact with both the animation and the original soundtrack.