Kauffman Center Showcases Area Youth Performers and Celebrates Fifth Anniversary of Future Stages Festival

This June, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts will present the fifth annual Future Stages Festival. The free community event places a spotlight on youth performances and family-friendly programming, showcasing young artists from the greater Kansas City metro area.

Future Stages Festival will feature entertainment throughout the day on Sunday, June 10 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event brings together young performing artists and audiences to enjoy the Kauffman Center as well as the vibrant energy of diverse performing arts disciplines in the arts community.

In addition to performances on four stages, the event will include arts activities for the whole family spread across the Kauffman Center’s two interior stages, Helzberg Hall and Muriel Kauffman Theatre, along with an outdoor stage that overlooks the south lawn. A fourth stage on the Arts District Garage Terrace is new this year, and will feature small acts with two to 10 youth performers. Community partners will also host workshops such as stage combat training and community dance classes on the fourth stage to encourage audience participation.

Activity partners include The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Kansas City Zoo, Museum at Prairiefire and Mattie Rhodes Art Center. Additional activities will include coloring on the windows of Brandmeyer Great Hall, sidewalk chalk art, Future Stages Festival Bingo and the Kansas City Symphony’s instrument petting zoo.

The festival is open to the public and attendees are encouraged to register for free at kauffmancenter.org/futurestages to receive the latest event updates and performance schedule. Registration is optional. No tickets will be issued. All Future Stages Festival registrants will be entered in a drawing to win two free tickets to an upcoming performance at the Kauffman Center.

“The Kauffman Center is committed to providing the entire Kansas City community access to the performing arts. Future Stages Festival supports that goal by focusing on youth engagement and displaying diversity in the performing arts,” stated Paul Schofer, President and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. “We are thrilled to be celebrating our fifth anniversary of the festival this year. With more than a third of last year’s performance groups new to Future Stages Festival, this event continues to showcase new youth performers from our Kansas City community.”

More than 20,000 people have attended Future Stages Festival over the years. Sixty community arts organizations have performed, and more than 2,500 youth artists have been featured on Kauffman Center stages. Performance groups are selected through a competitive application process that includes review by a local selection committee.

The festival creates access for young people, especially those with limited experience of the arts, to attend and perform on the stages of the Kauffman Center. Carmen Eppright, Harmony Project KC Program Manager, felt her students gained so much from performing at last year’s event.

“As my Harmony Project KC students were going down the stairs to the backstage area, one of the boys said, ‘Wow, this place is so cool.’ They were not expecting to be treated like ‘real performers.’ They knew that was the hall where the Kansas City Symphony plays, and they were so proud they got to play there, too. They were beaming. Experiences like Future Stages go a long way toward building their self-esteem, confidence, teamwork and love for music,” Eppright said.

Last year’s widely successful event featured more than 750 local youth performers on three stages. Twenty-five performance groups with youth artists ages 4 – 18 showcased a wide range of styles and art forms. Participating groups included the Kansas City Ballet School, the Zhang Li Dance Academy, 5 Star Jazz Band, Kansas City Youth Percussion Ensemble and Harmony Project KC, among others. More than 40 percent of the groups featured were new to the festival. A crowd of nearly 5,000 people enjoyed performances, arts activities, food trucks and more throughout the day.

Future Stages Festival launched in 2014 as part of the Kauffman Center’s Open Doors Spotlight on Youth initiative. Open Doors has three components to provide educational and community outreach opportunities:

  • The Spotlight on Youth initiative offers year-round programs and engagement opportunities that connect young people with the Kauffman Center.
  • The Community Tickets Fund offers free and reduced-price performance tickets to underserved audiences through local social service agencies and schools.
  • The Transportation Fund helps schools offer high-quality performing arts experiences to students by eliminating or defraying the costs of bus transportation.

The fifth annual Future Stages Festival is partially funded by a $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. This is the largest NEA grant the event has received, a testament to the growth of Future Stages and its ability to continue reaching new parts of the Kansas City community.

Saint Luke’s Health System is returning for a second year as the festival’s presenting sponsor. Their partnership will include the Saint Luke’s Outdoor Stage, and activities and giveaways scattered throughout the festival. Additional support is provided by the Missouri Arts Council. Media support is provided by Cumulus Media.

Find out more at kauffmancenter.org/futurestages or call the Kauffman Center Box Office at (816) 994-7222.

–Megan Felling

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