Reminder – Kansas City Jazz Goes Hollywood Performance February 27th at 8pm

Join us for an exciting time on Feb 27th at 8pm for “As Time Goes By – The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra Goes Hollywood!” Tickets cost from $25 to $50 and can be purchased at the KCPA Box Office by calling 816-944-7222 or online at www.kauffmancenter.org.

Tickets are going fast, make sure to get yours today and be part of a once in a lifetime event that you and your family will remember for years to come.

 

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THE KANSAS CITY JAZZ ORCHESTRA CONCERT COMING UP

Friday, February 27, 2015 – 8 PM 

You’ll find yourself ‘OVER THE RAINBOW’ and ‘SWINGING ON A STAR’ in Helzberg Hall when The KCJO swings the silver screen with arrangements of some of the best music ever featured in motion pictures!

Tickets cost from $25 to $50 and can be purchased at the KCPA Box Office by calling 816-944-7222 or online at www.kauffmancenter.org.

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Wild Horses of Sable Island Now Open at Museum at Prairiefire

By Kellie Houx

Exhibition transports visitors to a fragile slice of land in the Graveyard of the Atlantic where more than 500 untamed horses make their home

A small island situated more than 150 miles southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, sits at the center of the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” The site of more than 475 shipwrecks since the 17th century, Sable Island also is home to some 500 feral horses.

Romanian-born New York-based photographer Roberto Dutesco captures one of the wild horses of Sable Island.

Romanian-born New York-based photographer Roberto Dutesco captures one of the wild horses of Sable Island.

In 1994, Romanian-born New York-based photographer Roberto Dutesco learned about the horses and made his first trip to the island, a perilous journey by small plane from Halifax. Over the course of several visits, Dutesco captured the beauty and isolation of the wild horses and their austere habitat. For the first time, Dutesco’s Wild Horses of Sable Island exhibition will be shown in Kansas City at the Museum at Prairiefire. The exhibition, which runs through June 21, includes 33 of Dutesco’s iconic photographs and content about Dutesco, his process, his poetry and Sable Island.

In 1990, Dutesco discovered a short film made by the Canadian Film Board about national treasures. “It was this grainy and gritty little film, but among the treasures was Sable Island,” he says. “I made myself a note, but like all good intentions, I put it in a safe place and went on with life. I found the note a year later. So I started researching before Google and the Internet. I found a few scattered books with mentions of the island and no photography. I then made it my life’s mission to see the island. I took about a year and a half to receive clearance and transportation.”

Dutesco's images of the wild horses of Sable Island are now on display at the Museum at Prairiefire.

Dutesco’s images of the wild horses of Sable Island are now on display at the Museum at Prairiefire.

The first trip was in 1994. “Last year I went back to celebrate 20 years,” he explains. Dutesco created a documentary, Chasing Wild Horses, during his visits to the island. The documentary has been viewed by more than 30 million people in 50 countries, and helped turn Sable Island into a protected federal park, meaning that no one can visit it without the Canadian government’s invitation. The Canadian government also passed a law that no one can come closer than 60 feet to the wild horses, making Dutesco’s images among the rare up-close shots of these creatures.

“When the documentary played, 10 million Canadians watched it and the government was flooded with requests to go to Sable Island,” he notes. “It was important that the Canadian Parliament made the island a national park. The island even came up for sale twice. Now it is under Canadian law and now preserved for generations to come. I can take some credit.” Dutesco is currently working to protect the island again as oil and gas rigs have moved closer to the island. “Nothing has happened yet, but I don’t want anyone digging under the island or jeopardizing the horses.”

Dutesco has been to Sable Island nine times during the past two decades. His photographs have been seen all over the world, primarily in galleries or public places. “One of the conditions for permission to visit the island, I was to have the exhibit in a museum. The Museum of Natural History in Halifax has added the Sable Island photos into a permanent exhibit.

“With the exhibition, I see that people become more loving, more curious about the positive qualities of nature,” he says. “Those qualities are displayed in front of the photographs. Deep down, we are wild, free and full of emotion. We have forgotten how extraordinary nature can be. I have been fortunate to see the horses and spend time with them. They are unafraid of men. I want people to be touched. With these horses, people will see wilderness untouched. I want to create a conversation about collaboration and conservation.”

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Out of Orbit: A Review of Jupiter Ascending

By Alexander jupiter-ascendingMorales

In theaters today is a film that should be the epic space opera that action and science fiction fans have been yearning for. Today should mark the return of duo directors Andy and Lana Wachowski to the amazing original storytelling that changed American filmmaking in 1999. Today, I should be remarking on how visually exciting the Wachowskis’ new film Jupiter Ascending is … but I can’t. I cannot.

Sadly. This “wandering star” is falling quickly out of orbit.
Following the sad reality of a young Russian immigrant named Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), the universe is quickly turned upside down when it is discovered that she is a “recurrence” or reincarnation of the matriarch to the powerful and industrially important Abrasax family. Now in danger, a race is on to save (?), kill (?) or use her new claim to fame in order to take ownership to the ever important jewel of the galaxy, Earth. Along the way she meets a half man, half wolf named Caine (Channing Tatum), a swarm of bees and a whole new way of life.
Sound good? It’s not.

Mired by a continual need to jump from location to location (Chicago, space, new planet, another new planet, a space cruiser, a new planet, a space cruiser, Earth again and on and on and on) with some pretty poor-looking special effects, cringe worthy dialogue and poor acting in almost every scene, Jupiter Ascending never comfortably finds its ground. While I really enjoyed the overall “world-building” aspects of the film, almost everything else left me scratching my head and asking, “Is this it?”

The story, overall, is just a mess. I am fairly certain that very soon, this film is going to be the focus of the How Did This Get Made Podcast. A symptom of so many location changes, the story requires so much exposition that most thing are never fully clear. For example – Jupiter Jones. While she is called “royalty” and a “queen” it is never defined as to what she is the queen of. Yes she holds ownership of planet Earth (along with a host of other planets that are completely overlooked and/or not mentioned). Yet, as we learn from some extremely heavy exposition (again), there are a ton of people that own planets and several competitors to the Abrasax family business … so … what is she queen of? Why is she royalty?

Along with that, as a “damsel in distress,” Jupiter needs to be rescued in this film not once, not twice, not even three times, but five times. Not until the final act is she allowed to be anything more than an object. Annoying, ridiculous and very poor storytelling.
I won’t even get started on the wings.

jupiterIn terms of the acting, I’m not sure where to begin. Eddie Redmayne as the main baddie Balem Abrasax is annoying, ridiculous and near unwatchable. Redmayne’s whispery delivery is both hard to hear and far removed from anything else in the film. While I get the whole notion of him being above everyone else and blah, blah, blah … it’s just silly. At the same time, his strange outbursts and tantrums reduce him to nothing more than a laughable cartoon versus the mega-villain he is supposed to be. Similarly, Tatum is directed to pout his way through every line of dialogue which completely works against his charm. His ever-present brooding make him a never fully complete caricature of some other character in some other film. Both of these actors are much better performers than this.

While I would not say Kunis does a poor job, I would say that the her character is so undefined that even she doesn’t know where to begin.

On the flip side, I really enjoyed Tuppence Middleton and Douglas Booth’s portrayal of Kalique and Titus Abrasax. By far their presence is underused and sadly are left on the sidelines for most of the film. Had they been the focus of this film, I am confident the end product would have been far superior.

As far as the special effects … eh. While there are times that there are spectacular visuals at play and some (please note some) gorgeous costume designs, the rest is just kind of OK. For the most part, everything that is computer-generated in a scene with a human actor, looks computer-generated. It’s almost as if this film were using technology from 10 years ago versus the last two years. At the same time, I have heard other reviewers raving about the fight scenes. I don’t get the hype. They were difficult to follow, blurry (mainly because of the 3D) and nothing new.

One particular effect was, in my opinion, extremely silly – the flying boots. Or better yet, the skate boots. It was like a watching a science fiction version of Xanadu without the disco music. Tatum air skates his way throughout the film and I couldn’t help but feel like this concept was stuck somewhere in the late seventies to early eighties.

Jupiter Ascending is honestly a mess and a miss from the Wachowskis. I was hoping for much more and instead audiences have received a clumpy mash-up of ideas that adds complexity to something that, if simplified, could have been the new Matrix for this sibling pair. I would also not recommend seeing this film in 3D. The 3D version I screened was atrocious and I am convinced that 3D is just another way to get you, the audience member, to pay more and it is not worth it. This weekend, do yourself a favor and just go outside, look into the night sky and marvel at the amazing universe around us. By far that will more satisfying than seeing Jupiter Ascending.

2 out 5 Gold-plated telescopes on Ebay

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Kansas City Jazz Orchestra Goes Hollywood!

KCJO-2.27.15

We are going Hollywood! Come join us on Feb 27th at 8pm for “As Time Goes By – The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra Goes Hollywood!” Tickets cost from $25 to $50 and can be purchased at the KCPA Box Office by calling 816-944-7222 or online at www.kauffmancenter.org.

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Kauffman Center Invites Guests to New Dining Experience

** The pre-performance Dining Experience, led by Executive Chef Philippe Lechevin, offers innovative cuisine to guests just steps away from their seats.**

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts’ new Dining Experience invites patrons and visitors to indulge in one of four gourmet meal combinations freshly prepared and served fresco style in the comfortable and sophisticated Founders’ Lounge at the Kauffman Center.

EmailImage_TheDiningExperience1Available prior to all performances, the Kauffman Center and Executive Chef Philippe Lechevin have crafted an exclusive modern-American dining option featuring exquisite yet casual epicurean cuisine.

“The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, in partnership with Bonterra Catering and Events, created the all-new Dining Experience as a direct response to the requests of our patrons to provide a high quality, pre-show dining option conveniently located just steps away from their seats,” stated Paul J. Schofer, President & CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

The pre-performance Dining Experience, with innovative cuisine crafted by Executive Chef Philippe Lechevin, incorporates fresh ingredients in a unique artisan culinary design. Seasonal menus will highlight local flavors and meal selections will satisfy all appetites and diets.

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and Bonterra Catering joined with local creative organizations Icon Architects and the Belger Arts Center to design a one-of-a-kind serving vessel, the Marquee box, to further enhance the Dining Experience.  This artisanal Marquee box, inspired by the iconic architecture of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, is a modern American take on the traditional Japanese bento box.  Originally suggesting convenience, the bento box became a sophisticated art form for dining and a beautiful canvas for the delicacies served before and between Japanese theater scenes.

The Dining Experience is by reservation only. Reservations can be made up to 48 hours in advance of performances online at kauffmancenter.org or by calling 816.994.7222. Available prior to all performances, the pre-fixed menu is $40 per meal inclusive of a cold, non-alcoholic beverage. Taxes, gratuity, alcoholic beverages and dessert are separate.

ABOUT EXECUTIVE CHEF PHILIPPE M. LECHEVIN
Philippe Lechevin holds the position of Bonterra Catering and Events’ Executive Chef at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The Dining Experience cuisine, crafted by Executive Chef Philippe Lechevin at the Kauffman Center, incorporates fresh, seasonal and local ingredients in a unique artisanal culinary design.

Lechevin approaches life with enthusiasm and abundant energy, and believes that the best way to enjoy life is through food. Infusing his cuisine with culinary influences from around the world, Lechevin grew up in Vittel, France, where food is the focus of social and family events. He spent many meals with his Grandmother Madeleine and Grandfather Michel while his parents worked in the family business. His extensive travels instilled an appreciation of other cultures and unique cuisines. He entered cooking school in France and then completed his compulsory military duty in Gualeloupe, in the French West Indies. He then traveled extensively throughout Brazil. Afterward, Lechevin headed to the French Riviera, where he worked with top French chefs while at the Gray D’Albion restaurant, then the Le Meridien and Beau Rivage hotels in Cannes and Nice. Lechevin did not speak a word of English at the time, but accepted a sous chef position at a new restaurant in Washington D.C. named Les Halles. He quickly learned how to speak English from his kitchen crew in D.C. and helped build the restaurant into a well-regarded casual French dinner destination on Pennsylvania Avenue. Lechevin was then asked to move to Les Halles in New York City.

In 2011, Julia Irene Kauffman selected Lechevin to join the team at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts as Executive Chef.

More information on the Dining Experience is available at www.kauffmancenter.org/dining and additional information including events and tickets may be found at www.kauffmancenter.org.

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Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection Comes to Truman Library

By Kellie Houx

Serpent, circa 1860 Designer unknown Photography: John Bigelow Taylor

Serpent, circa 1860 Designer unknown Photography: John Bigelow Taylor

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has traversed the globe with a wink, a smile, a razor-edged wit, an even sharper intelligence to talk to world leaders all while wearing small pieces of wearable art. In the beginning, Albright’s pins were merely accessories, but after her 1994 tag by the Saddam Hussein’s government-controlled press called her an “unparalleled serpent.” At this time, she was the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. At her next meeting on the subject of Iraq, Albright wore a golden snake brooch, beginning a career-long practice of using jewelry to convey and reinforce diplomatic messages.

During her career in public service, Albright famously used her jewelry to communicate diplomatic messages. Now through February 22, the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum presents the exhibition Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection, which reveals an intriguing story of American history and foreign policy as told through more than 200 of Dr. Albright’s jeweled pins collected or gifted to her over about 20 years.

The Dr. Madeleine Albright exhibition at the Truman Library.

The Dr. Madeleine Albright exhibition at the Truman Library.

“It was a game for the most part in selecting the pins,” she says. “It would depend on the situation. When we were seeking support, I would wear lots of American flags and eagles. I suppose with some, there was forethought.” Eventually staffers and other dignitaries could quickly gauge Albright’s mood, depending on the pin of the day. If it happened to be butterflies, conversations and the like would be cheery. However, if the pin was an insect, negotiations and other talks might be a bit grave.

Lion, 1968. Designer: Kenneth Jay Lane Photographer: John Bigelow Taylor

Lion, 1968. Designer: Kenneth Jay Lane Photographer: John Bigelow Taylor

Visitors immediately see the serpent pin, the blue bird pin that she used in helping condemn the actions of four Cuban-Americans shot down off the coast of Florida and the antique eagle brooch she wore when she was sworn in as Secretary of State. As a matter of fact, her first trip as Secretary of State was to Texas and she was greeted by President George H.W. Bush. “He was famous for ‘Read my lips.’ I began urging colleagues and reporters to ‘Read my pins.’ It stuck and also resonates with my sense of humor.” The pins are also educational. “They are a place to start a discussion about what the U.S. role is within this world. We live in an interdependent world and we can talk about what role the United States should play. We are an indispensable nation in the definition that we need to be engaged. It is simply necessary.”

Some of the outstanding pins include Breaking the Glass Ceiling by Vivian Shimoyama, fitting for the first woman to hold the job of Secretary of State. There are turtle pins that she wore during Mideast peace talks. “Turtles are slow and deliberate creatures, much like the talks,” she explains.

One pin she wishes she had back from the collection is called Ode to U.S. Armed Forces by Mina Lyles. The pin is a composition of emblems representing the various armed forces. “I have spent many hours with veterans and I know this piece would help express my way to honor them even more. I have been to Walter Reed Hospital many times, including many visits to the MusiCorps program.”

Writer and editor Kellie Houx with former Secretary of State Dr. Madeleine Albright.

Writer and editor Kellie Houx with former Secretary of State Dr. Madeleine Albright.

She’s also got many jazz instrument pins. “Sometimes I wear many of them together … it’s a jazz band on the jacket. I love jazz. I am a supporter of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. Colin Powell and I served as the co-chairs for the institute’s 20th anniversary. The institute also sends out musical ambassadors around the world.” In 2012, the 25th annual Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition and “Women, Music and Diplomacy” All-Star Gala Concert honored Albright with the Institute’s 2012 Maria Fisher Founder’s Award. In the spirit of the evening, Albright took her place behind the drums and performed a moving rendition of Nessun Dorma with Chris Botti and George Duke.

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Musical Theater Heritage Signs Lease at Crown Center

Musical Theater Heritage (MTH)MTH at Crown Center, the Kansas City professional theater company specializing in Musical Theater productions, has signed an exclusive lease to occupy the 243-seat Off Center Theatre on Level 3 of the Crown Center Shops.  MTH, with its large casts and live music has become a local theater favorite for its intimate and engaging concert-style productions of book musicals, and cabaret shows.

MTH began in 1998 with the A Night on the Town Radio Series, a nationally syndicated radio program of vintage Broadway. MTH started producing musicals on local stages in 2003. Since 2008, all performances have been at Crown Center’s Off Center Theatre.

“We rented the Off Center Theatre on an ‘as-needed’ basis, as did several other local companies,” says George Harter, MTH Executive Director. “This move transforms MTH from a somewhat nomadic existence to a professional company with its very own theater.”

The Off Center Theatre will be renamed MUSICAL THEATER HERITAGE at CROWN CENTER. MTH will continue to offer the space for lease to other theater groups. In addition, the adjacent cinemas will be available through MTH for video presentations, seminars, meetings and other uses.

“We’ve enjoyed a tremendous relationship with MTH for many years,” says Zahid Nana, Crown Center’s Vice President of Marketing and Hospitality. “It’s been exciting to watch them grow, and we’re looking forward to the wonderful entertainment they’ll continue to bring to Crown Center.”

Productions scheduled at the new Musical Theater Heritage in 2015 include: Guys and Dolls; Jesus Christ Superstar; Urinetown; and Wouldn’t It Be Loverly a Lerner & Loewe revue, as well as Musical Mondays & Tuesdays, Too and A Night on the Town performance series of cabaret programs featuring local vocalists. Also in the works, the “A Night on the Town Lounge” where patrons can gather at the theater and enjoy cocktails as Harter presents A Night on the Town – his weekly radio program on musical theater.

Harter credits the hard work, loyalty and artistic excellence of many people for MTH’s success.  Chad Gerlt, has been on board since 2003 as a producer, fundraiser and has cultivated and built MTH’s audience through strategic promotions and marketing; Sarah Crawford, responsible for casting and directing large-scale book musicals in a unique way that provides the audience with a intimate and heightened theater experience; and Tim Scott, who has developed the Musical Monday series into a high energy, unpredictable, fun and sold-out event.

“We are quite ready for this giant step,” Harter says. “MTH provided employment for 289 actors, singers and theater technicians in 2014. We brought 11,500 people to Crown Center to see our productions. Having a permanent home is the only way we could continue our phenomenal growth.”

The MTH staff will include:
George Harter, Executive Director
Chad Gerlt, Executive Producer
Sarah Crawford, Artistic Director (Director/ Music Director, book musicals)
Tim Scott, Curator Musical Monday / Digital Media Manager
Jeremy Watson, Music Supervisor
Cindy Ross, Box Office/Book Keeping

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Liberty Arts Squared Festival Seeks Artists

Liberty Arts SquaredThe 6th Annual Liberty Arts Squared Festival is now accepting applications from visual and literary artists to participate in the two-day arts festival, June 5 -6.

The festival will begin with an evening of fine visual arts and crafts booths and headlining musical entertainment in historic downtown Liberty on Friday evening, June 5. Saturday, June 6, will feature a full range of exhibits and activities with live music, interactive and children’s activities, visual arts and fine crafts, and a chalk art contest.

Entries are juried and merit cash awards are given in the visual and folk arts and crafts, with a Best Overall Festival Exhibit, Best Individual Fine Visual Exhibit, Best Individual Fine Crafts Exhibit, among others. Judging will take place on Friday evening, June 6. More than $3,000 in prizes will be awarded.

Information about the festival can be found at www.LibertyArtsSquared.org. Fine artists must apply through www.zapplication.com. To be included in festival print materials, application must be accepted by May 1. BOMH members who have not applied before receive $10 off their application fees.

For more information about the festival or application process, please visit www.zapplication.com or send an e-mail to staff@libertyartssquared.org.

The festival, presented by The Liberty Arts Commission and Historic Downtown Liberty, Inc. Liberty, Mo., is located 20 minutes northeast of downtown Kansas City on I-35.

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Songwriting Contest Aims to Build Harmony

Submissions sought for Songwriting Contest about tolerance and acceptance

Competition part of April SevenDays events

Music is a universal language bridging barriers and building harmony among disparate groups of people.

Faith, love & SongTwo Kansas City area foundations are to build harmony from hatred – RRACE (Racial and Religious Acceptance and Cultural Equality) and Faith Always Wins. The nonprofit organizations are conducting a songwriting contest seeking compositions that address the subject of racial, religious, and/or cultural equality and acceptance. Songwriters ages 14-21 are invited to submit original works now through Feb. 28, 2015 for the first Faith, Love & Song competition. Winners will be announced at the SevenDays Celebration taking place in April 2015.

Following the tragic events that took place in April 2014 at the Jewish Community Campus and Village Shalom, RRACE and Faith Always Wins were established to create something positive from the evil that occurred. This song competition is aimed at promoting understanding, tolerance and acceptance through the arts.

“Music is healing. It can bridge the gap between religions and race. Together, as a community, we can overcome evil, when we join hands and voices to make GOOD louder. My father and Reat each had a love of music and this songwriting competition adds meaning to how they lived their lives,” said Mindy Corporon, whose son Reat Griffin Underwood and father Dr. William Corporon were killed outside of the JCC on April 13, 2014. The third victim, Terri LaManno, was gunned down outside of Village Shalom. The Corporon family established the Faith Always Wins and the Reat Griffin Underwood Memorial Foundationto engage others in a dialogue that will encourage Faith and the good that is in the world.

“We are doctors. We believe in healing and not in killing. Our mission is simple. We ask all, regardless of racial, religious, or cultural differences, to join our cause: cherish life, become a healer,” said Drs. Ekkehard and Sieglinde Othmer, who established RRACE after learning about the April 13 shootings. RRACE hopes to promote understanding and acceptance through the arts, starting with this songwriting competition.

The purpose of the songwriting contest is to promote acceptance and diversity. Contestants may submit an unlimited number of compositions for consideration, but they must be original works. Songwriters may also work together. For complete contest details, please visit www.faithalwayswins.org.

A panel of judges from the music and entertainment industry will choose up to 10 finalists who will be notified by March 15. The public will ultimately choose the three winning compositions through “likes” on YouTube. Judges’ scores plus the number of likes posted on the YouTube version of each song will determine the three winners. Voting will take place March 29 – April 4.

The composers of the top three winning compositions will receive scholarships in the amounts of $5,000 for First Place, $2,500 for Second Place and $1,000 for Third Place. The compositions will be performed as part of the April SevenDays events.

The songwriting competition is co-sponsored by: RRACE, Reat Underwood Memorial Fund, Faith Always Wins, the LaManno Family, Morgan Family, Herbert and Bonnie Buchbinder, KC SuperStar, the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, Village Shalom, and the Church of Resurrection.

For more information on the songwriting contest, e-mail Tammy Ruder, producer, at Truder@harvestproductions.com.

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The Business of “Doing Good”

The Annual Benefit Gala is the year’s largest fundraiser for Starlight Theatre. Last May, Gala attendees shared in pre-dinner festivities on Starlight’s Cohen Community Stage.

The Annual Benefit Gala is the year’s largest fundraiser for Starlight Theatre. Last May, Gala attendees shared in pre-dinner festivities on Starlight’s Cohen Community Stage.

What sort of guidance does a nonprofit need when it comes to receiving gifts and investing assets? Amy Pieper is director of nonprofit services at The Commerce Trust Company, a division of Commerce Bank. Pieper says most nonprofits need help “establishing proper guidelines that provide a road map describing how donor gifts are accepted, how the investments should be managed and how the funds can be used. These guidelines provide a strong foundation that helps board members ensure that the assets are working to further their mission, both now and in the future.”

In addition to an investment policy statement, many boards develop a gift acceptance policy that provides guidance for all types of assets received including cash, marketable securities, and unique assets such as real estate, pieces of art or personal property. These policies state whether the board must pre-approve the acceptance of assets, procedures for pre-acceptance and the policy for retention or sale of the gifted assets once they are received. This is often a good time to define what types of donor restrictions may be placed on the funds as well. Pieper says a “well-defined gift acceptance policy will take care of the majority of the situations that may arise.”

A gift acceptance policy is a helpful document to have in place as the economy improves and donors give more. Fortunately, national giving statistics over the last four years indicate that giving has increased with improvements in the overall economy. According to Pieper, the donors driving this growth are savvy. She says, “They want to make sure their donations are making an impact. Commerce Trust can help organizations be good stewards of assets thereby helping donors feel good about making a major gift.” Major gifts can come through trusts or other planned giving techniques. Nonprofits can look to organizations like Commerce Trust to provide donor education seminars and information to assist with planned giving programs and opportunities.

Pieper says the bottom line is “to find an investment consultant who has experience working directly with nonprofits and their boards through all market cycles.” An experienced professional can help create and implement an investment plan customized for your organization. “Beyond investments, you want someone who can provide additional support or resources to assist with both board and donor education resources,” according to Pieper. Once the appropriate guidelines are in place, they will provide continuity when the board experiences turnover and guidance throughout different market cycles.

The performers cast as members of the Von Trapp family practiced their choreography during summer 2014 rehearsals for The Sound of Music at Starlight Theatre. Each summer Starlight self-produces at least one of the productions on its Broadway season schedule.

The performers cast as members of the Von Trapp family practiced their choreography during summer 2014 rehearsals for The Sound of Music at Starlight Theatre. Each summer Starlight self-produces at least one of the productions on its Broadway season schedule.

As an example, Starlight Theatre started working with Commerce Trust during the 2003 Future Generations Campaign. The campaign raised $15.7 million for renovations and additions to restrooms and other operational structural needs.  “We have never had an endowment,” says Brenda Mortensen, Starlight vice president of finance. “As part of that campaign, we wanted to set aside $2.5 million to begin the endowment. We reached out to Commerce Trust to help us with investment and giving policies. They helped us draft policies which included delineating roles for the board of directors and the investment committee, which in Starlight’s case is the finance committee.”

Mortensen meets with Commerce Trust staff quarterly and the full committee meets annually. “Our policy is structured to build and retain capital. The interest from the endowment supports operations, but the key is to have a rainy day fund so we can ensure Starlight’s future. Starlight is an integral part of Kansas City, and we want to be here in the future.”

Starlight works to protect contributions. “When donors invest their dollars, they are making a difference. It is mission critical that they understand how their gifts are spent. We are extremely conscious of good financial choices. Commerce Trust is a pivotal partner for us in helping with the endowment management. They not only manage trusts but they are intrinsically involved in candid conversations that have guided our policies, evaluating risks and helping protect the funds that allow us achieve our objectives.”

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