ArtsKC Fund: For the Public Good

Just as Burns & McDonnell employee-owners draw on creativity and inspiration in their daily work, the firm is leading local efforts to support the artists shaping Kansas City’s unique and diverse mosaic.

The effort started six years ago with the celebration of its own artistic employee-owners in an annual art show featuring their work at the world headquarters in Kansas City, Mo.

The show ties in with Art@Work, a citywide corporate competition showcasing employees’ talents in visual and literary arts, music, dance, and film. This year the art show blossomed into more companywide events and performances to raise money for the ArtsKC Fund, a program of The Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City that supports more than 300 arts and cultural organizations across five counties.

Known for building strong partnerships in the communities it serves, Burns & McDonnell is continuing that work using its nonprofit foundation to connect with the arts.

“We’ve really started something here,” said Kelly Ellison, director of development for the Arts Council. “My hope is that next year we continue showing people that even a small donation strengthens the economy and builds momentum around the entire arts community we appreciate every day.”

Dale Trott, senior vice president and general manager of Environmental Studies & Permitting at Burns & McDonnell, is pioneering the firm’s evolving efforts of support.

“Life is sometimes gray and somewhat dull — art adds dimensions you don’t normally see,” said Trott, a musician and member of the Arts Council board. “It represents our enrichment of life.”

As part of the Burns & McDonnell art show this year, the foundation hosted a happy hour capped with a performance by the Kansas City Ballet. The event provided a platform for the Arts Council to share its message with more than 100 employee-owners. The foundation also featured a Kansas City Crossroads Arts District First Friday bus tour, which included four gallery stops, drinks and hors d’oeuvres — all for a good cause.

“We would love to see this event continue and grow not only among Burns & McDonnell employee-owners but with other arts supporters across the city,” said Melissa Lavin-Hickey, Burns & McDonnell Foundation director.

Building off its growing partnership, the ArtsKC Fund this year also joined Burns & McDonnell for its annual company picnic. Employee-owners and their families used quilt squares as their canvases for creating artwork. The squares were then used to make quilts donated to homeless families across Kansas City.

“Our volunteers had such a great time raising awareness for how important the arts are,” Ellison said. “And everybody who participated seemed to enjoy contributing to such a great cause.”

KC Studio

KC Studio covers the performing, visual, cinematic and literary arts, and the artists, organizations and patrons that make Kansas City a vibrant center for arts and culture.

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