A Private Performance Hall

  • Arts & Culture
  • 2012

When Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium (longtime home to the Philharmonic and other Kansas City cultural organs) was erected, it was paid for entirely by the federal government with New Deal money. That building’s latest successor, opened in 2012, is the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. It was financed 100 percent from private sources.

The new arts center, which cost $366 million, had 25 donors who gave at least a million dollars. The heaviest support came via philanthropy from the Kauffman family. The Muriel Kauffman Foundation gave $80 million, and another $26 million was provided by the Ewing Kauffman Foundation. (These are the separate foundations of Ewing and Muriel Kauffman, a married couple who made their fortune in pharmaceutical and baseball investments.) An additional $25 million was donated by their daughter Julia.

Today the dramatically styled Kauffman Center is home to the Kansas City Symphony, Lyric Opera, and the Kansas City Ballet, along with many smaller and touring performers. A New York Times reviewer characterized the new facility as “one of the most enjoyable, exhilarating arts centers I’ve been to.”

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