I respect and admire the musicians and singers in the symphony and opera, but I have great reverence for the artistry and athleticism of the ballet.
In my 20s, I was lucky enough to become involved in Kansas City’s art world through a friend of mine, who asked me on a whim, if I would be interested in becoming involved in the newly formed BARRE i.e.: Young Friends of the Kansas City Ballet. Michelle (my friend) had no idea she had lit a spark in 2004. My only other experiences had been attending the Nelson-Atkins Party Arty event (a few years prior, just after college), watching musicals at the Music Hall and Starlight with my mother, and occasionally visiting art museums.
Over the next year, our group gathered monthly to plan events related to the ballet, an art form that I quickly fell in love with. To this day it is my preferred form of performing art – I respect and admire the musicians and singers in the symphony and opera, but I have great reverence for the artistry and athleticism of the ballet. Out of the knowledge I gained volunteering with the BARRE came a greater understanding of all art forms – visual, performing, and literary. I found myself becoming more aware of various aspects of the Kansas City arts scene e.g. First Fridays in the Crossroads, start-up galleries, and individual artists. I became a regular at museum exhibitions, upstart theater company performances and theater groups like the Unicorn Theatre, Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre (MET), ArtsAlive, and most recently The Living Room.
From my art experiences I have come to appreciate Kansas City as a burgeoning community for professional artists like Peregrine Honig, STRETCH, Linda Lighton, and Christopher Leitch. All work in different media and have their own following locally and nationally. In addition, I have come to know local art collectors who have taught me the difference between purchasing art pieces at street fairs (Brookside, Plaza or Westport) versus what is available in galleries. The quality of a piece or the appreciation of a performance is in the eye of the beholder. One’s definition of
art as good or bad is irrelevant, as long as one is engaged, aware, and informed.
This past year I was appointed to the Municipal Art Commission for the City of Kansas City. Our group oversees the One Percent for Art Program – that is, all city building projects set aside one percent of the construction budget to commission art that will be incorporated into the site or location. In addition, because of the knowledge I have gained over the last decade and-a-half, I have served on the board of the Kauffman Center Ambassadors, as president of the Kansas City Ballet Guild, and currently on the boards of the Lyric Opera Circle and Lyric Guild.
Recently, Mayor Sly James empowered Mike Burke to chair the Mayor’s Task Force for the Arts. This group has spent the last year fundraising to hire a consulting team who will work in 2013 to assess the current state of arts and culture and help determine its future priorities. The name of this effort is Envision Arts & Culture KC. More information can be found at www.envisionACKC.com. A “Festival of Ideas” will begin in late January and will serve as the kick-off event where Kansas Citians can become involved in a community conversation about the future of arts and culture in the city. Kansas City is truly at a crossroads and is poised to become even better. I hope everyone will use this opportunity to participate, become involved, and learn more!
–Kimberlee Ried, Featured Patron