Mayor to christen KC FilmFest tonight

Mayor Sly James will be on hand this evening to help launch the 2013 edition of the Kansas City FilmFest at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema at 14th & Main in Downtown Kansas City. More than 100 films will be shown at the Film Fest, which opens today and runs through Sunday.

Mayor James will speak at 6:15 p.m. today, just prior to the 6:30 p.m. screening of the local film, We Are Superman.

Of all the films in the FilmFest, about two-thirds of them are participating in competition.  But, in addition to the  competition, FilmFest organizers scoured the globe to find other great films that have not yet made it to Kansas City.

The competition is the oldest part of the Kansas City Filmmakers Jubilee, the nonprofit organization that presents FilmFest each year. In 1996, Jubilee founder Fred Andrews learned that Kansas City had an active and growing filmmaking community but there were few venues for filmmakers to show their work. As a result, Andrews launched the Kansas City Filmmakers Jubilee which held its first festival in 1997.

For ticket information and more information, visit the FilmFest online.



Boston Globe believes Downtown KC’s ‘heritage is hip’

Downtown  and Kansas City received some welcomed attention from The Boston Globe in its Sunday edition, Oct. 21 that is distributed to about half a million households.

Reporter Robin Soslow clearly loved her recent visit to Kansas City. Even her article’s headline reflected the positive review that was about to come our way: Kansas City, Mo., gives heritage a hip twist.

Several Downtown neighborhoods — including the City Market, Crossroads, 18th & Vine, Quality Hill and the Westside — along with parks, fountains, museums and the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts all captured Soslow’s attention.

“Building on, not over, its rich past, Kansas City proves that progress and preservation can happily coexist. Here, heritage is hip,” Soslow wrote.

Here’s a sample of her prose and praise of the Crossroads:

“Crossroads galleries, cafes, clubs, and shops animate time-worn industrial buildings. Locals pour from lofts in splendidly restored brick-walled warehouses. Lines have formed at Cafe Gratitude since it opened in May. At Sherry Leedy Contemporary, I fall for an exquisite Kansas City Royals-blue gown; unfortunately, it’s doll-size and ceramic, as are the sensuous creatures by local artist Steven Gorman. Late night, the back door of Manifesto, a reincarnated speakeasy, leads to absinthe and savory pepper elixirs.”

To check out the entire article, go to:

What Makes A Great City? A Downtown Arts Campus

What Makes a Great City? A Downtown Arts Campus
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
 6:30pm @ Kansas City Public Library, Central Library, 14 W 10th Street

Imagine a Downtown Campus for the Arts with more than 600 music, dance and visual art students studying, exhibiting, performing, living and playing in Downtown Kansas City.

Imagine a campus that embraces many of Kansas City’s most respected cultural institutions, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, the Kansas City Art Institute, and others.

Imagine the possibilities… and their beneficial impact on Downtown.

Join Peter Witte, Dean of UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, Jacqueline Chanda, President of Kansas City Art Institute, and Jerry Allen, The Cultural Planning Group and consultant to the Mayor’s task Force for the Arts, as they envision a future for the arts in Downtown Kansas City.  Mike Burke, chairman of the Mayor’s Task Force on the Arts, will moderate this discussion of the formal and informal connections between technology, the arts and creativity. The conversation will range from the practical to the visionary.

“In an era of the arts, how might UMKC’s students engage with a renewed city center?” asks Peter Witte, in a recent column in The Kansas City Star. “By some estimates, Kansas City has invested more than $6 billion in development since 2000. Of that, more than $1.57 billion was dedicated to arts, cultural and entertainment facilities. How do we activate these investments and ensure their vibrancy for generations to come?”

This panel discussion will be held on Wednesday, September 5, from 6:30 to 7:30 at the Kansas City Public Library Central Library, Helzberg Auditorium.

Art in the Loop Foundation, the Downtown Council of Kansas City, Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City Public Library, the Municipal Art Commission of Kansas City and the UMKC Conservatory of Dance and Music will co-sponsor this event.

RSVP  to the Kansas City Public Library at or call 816-701-3407.


UMKC releases studies of Downtown Arts Campus

A Downtown Campus for the Arts for the University of Missouri-Kansas City would improve educational opportunities for students in all fields, boost economic development for the region, enhance Kansas City’s ongoing arts renaissance and inject millions of dollars into the local economy over the next 25 years.

That is the conclusion of a series of studies commissioned by the university after a downtown arts campus was named one of the Big 5 goals for Greater Kansas City. These reports include a study of potential sites and costs, prepared by Helix Architecture + Design, Integra Realty Resources and HGA Architects and Engineers; an internal UMKC review of the potential impact of moving arts programs downtown on the university and its component parts; and an economic impact study conducted by the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC). The three studies, and a unified executive summary of all three, are available at

“When this idea was first broached, we had several fundamental questions we needed answered before we would move forward: Would it be better for the education of all of our students? Would it be good for the community? What would it cost?” said Leo E. Morton, UMKC Chancellor. “After reviewing these studies, we have our answers. We believe that this is the right thing to do, if the resources can be raised to make it happen.”

The sites and costs study recommends three potential sites and a phased move of the visual and performing arts schools over a 20+-year period. Under the “phasing” formula, the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, which has the greatest need for increased space and improved facilities, would move first. Following in succeeding phases over 20 or more years would be the UMKC Theatre and the Kansas City Repertory Theatre in the second phase; and in a third phase, KCUR Radio and the UMKC Departments of Art & Art History, Communication Studies, and Architecture, Urban Planning and Design.

“It’s an idea worth exploring because the opening of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts will bring international and national attention to Kansas City in the arena of the performing arts,” said Warren Erdman, 2011 chairman, University of Missouri Board of Curators, and executive committee member of the Downtown Council of Kansas City.

“This is excellent news, and sets the stage for the next steps in our Big 5 goal to relocate the university’s arts programs to a new and exciting downtown location. These three studies were crucial to the first phase of this initiative, and I compliment Chancellor Morton on the thorough and expeditious process the university has followed,” said Jim Heeter, president and CEO, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. “This ‘Big Idea’ can become a reality, and I anticipate strong community support for the move.”

Costs of the move were pegged by the studies at a range of $152 million for the most basic “core” programs of each department, to $272 million for a “full” range of programming options, such as a new 500-seat theatre for the Kansas City Rep.

The MARC economic impact study forecast a range of $375 million to $442 million in increased Gross Domestic Output over 25 years, versus what would take place without creation of the new campus.

One of the key impacts on the university would be creating opportunity for growth of non-arts programs on the Volker campus. The university’s strategic plan calls for increasing enrollment by one-third by 2020, from 15,000 to 20,000 students, primarily through growth in the School of Computing and Engineering, School of Biological Sciences, School of Education, School of Nursing, College of Arts and Sciences, and the Bloch School of Management.

Moving arts students to the hub of cultural activity in and around the Crossroads District would expand opportunities and creative synergies, while placing more than 700 students and faculty in the daily environment of the district.

Downtown Council to Honor 5 Businesses

Photos from our March 14th reception.

Kansas City Ballet, March honoree.

Brightergy, March honoree.

The Downtown Council (DTC) and its business retention committee, will honor five businesses for their commitment to Downtown Kansas City at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 28 at the new Lyric Opera headquarters.

The popular Quarterly Business Retention Receptions have gained even greater significance over the last two years, as the Downtown Council increases its emphasis on business retention and attraction

All DTC members are invited and encouraged to attend the summer cocktail reception at 5:30 p.m. at the Lyric Opera, 712 E. 18th Street. The receptions are free to DTC members.

The five summer honorees include:

The Lyric Opera
Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)
Hanna Rubber
Mission Peak
New Horizons

If you are unable to attend the reception, please send another representative in your place.

RSVP to Julie Shippy at or 816.421.1539.


Saveur and Today Show Agree: KC’s Food Scene is On the Rise

Saveur and Today Show Agree: KC’s Food Scene is On the Rise
Kansas City as a top culinary destination for 2012

Kansas City made a national splash on NBC’s Today show on Thursday for the second time in three months. Saveur, one of the nation’s top culinary magazines, announced its Top Food Trends for 2012 — proclaiming Kansas City as America’s next great culinary destination for 2012.

The announcement was made by James Oseland, editor-in-chief of Saveur and a judge on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters. “We’ve long thought of Kansas City as a good barbecue town,” Oseland said, “but its high-end dining is really on the rise.”

This high-profile ranking is a result of a 2011 media visit hosted by the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association. The organization’s PR department hosted Saveur Executive Editor Todd Coleman in March and also contributed messaging for Thursday’s broadcast story.

The story specifically mentions Debbie Gold and the American Restaurant, one of more than 250 restaurants, cafes and bars in greater Downtown Kansas City.

To view the Today show story and read its blog, click here.

Praise for Kansas City continued on the Today show blog, also released on Thursday. In it, Oseland said Kansas City is “going to have its moment in 2012.”

“This Midwestern city has a deep-rooted food culture that’s been around for well over a century, one that’s now poised to reinvigorate itself and position the city as a new culinary destination. We all know about Kansas City’s reputation as a great barbecue town, but recently there’s been a fantastic wave of smart, new high-end cooking that’s been lighting a fire in the heart of America,” the story says. “Laying the foundation are chefs like Debbie Gold, Celina Tio, and Colby Garrelts, whose restaurants … are galvanizing the area’s independent and organic farmers and producers, and inspiring Kansas City’s next generation of chefs to reach for new heights.”

What a better way to celebrate this good news with a great, New Year’s out at the Downtown restaurant of your choice??

Jason Ryan Dorsey talks GenY and Millennial Entitlement

The Downtown Council will amp up its traditional Annual Luncheon format with a keynote presentation by Jason Ryan Dorsey, The Gen Y Guy and author of “Y-Size Your Business”. The Austin, Texas based speaker will offer expert insights on how Gen Y can energize and grow Downtown and your company.

Dorsey recently appeared on the CBS Morning show to discuss Gen Y and Millennials’ sense of entitlement. A new study by Cisco reveals that a large percentage of Gen Y’ers would refuse a job that did not provide them with the cell phone they wanted. Dorsey was challenged to explain this and other Gen Y views. Check out the video here!

Like what you see? Make plans to join us at our Annual Luncheon on December 9.  Visit our webpage  for more information. Or register online here!

Kansas City Ballet to Open New Home On Friday, August 26th!

Todd Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity to Celebrates Grand Opening Aug. 22-Sept. 2

The Kansas City Ballet’s new home, the Todd Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity, will open to the public on Friday, Aug. 26 with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 9:30 a.m. at 500 Pershing Avenue.

“This may well be the most significant event in the history of our company,” said Executive Director Jeffrey J. Bentley. “Since the beginning, the need for a permanent home for the company and our highly regarded school has been an important but missing element of our strategic plan and now it is a reality for this community.”

A series of free public events is scheduled between Monday, Aug. 22 and Friday, Sept. 2 to celebrate the completion of the restoration and repurposing of this historic power house situated at the western edge of the Union Station campus. Over the past five years the structure, which had been abandoned for nearly a half century, was painstakingly transformed into 52,000 square feet of space uniquely designed to support the needs of this nationally respected dance company and its school. Amenities include: seven dance studios, a physical therapy/training room, and lockers and shower facilities for the company and 160 parking spaces adjacent to the building. It will house the administrative and artistic staff, as well as the institution’s archives.

“During my time with Todd Bolender in Kansas City, we envisioned a permanent home for the company and school,” said Artistic Director William Whitener.  “This new facility surpasses our expectations. Large open studios, natural light as well as a 180 seat studio theater will now make it possible to create, rehearse and perform in an expansive environment.”

Renovation on the building began in November 2009. The overall cost is $39 million, including a $7 million endowment restricted to support the operations and maintenance of the building itself.  The development partners include PowerHouse Properties LLC, Kansas City based architectural firm BNIM, JE Dunn Construction, Union Station and the Downtown Council.

Artists, Creators and Collaborators in Kansas City

I just returned from an inspiring panel discussion at the Leedy Voulkos Gallery – part of the America: Now and Here dialogue.  Harlan Brownlee (Arts Council of KC) moderated a panel discussion about the future of the arts in Kansas City.  Jonathan Knecht (KCADC) layed out the theme by presenting a new national branding concept “Kansas City, America’s Creative Crossroads”.   The KCADC will use this platform to promote Kansas City as authentic, innovative and inviting when it works to attract corporations and talent to relocate to our region.

The concept was well received by attendees.  The panelists offered their thoughts. Kathleen Collins (KC Art Institute) emphasized that artists need to benefit from the “Creative Crossroads” concept…this should not be a program built on the back of artists but one that leverages support for the arts and its ability to be an economic engine.

Greg Carroll (American Jazz Museum) appreciated that potential regional unification impact of the “Creative Crossroads”.  When asked about his vision for the Kansas City arts community for the next 5-10 years, Greg described a diverse arts community accessible to everyone helping to unify the community.  Cynthia Rider (KC Repertory Theater) saw a future of excellence in the arts focused in Downtown Kansas City.

Peter Witte (UMKC Conservatory) spoke about the power of the arts to create jobs and build relationships between diverse groups.  He emphasized that the world is no longer our audience, it is our community and it is a community of artists, creators and collaborators.

The panelists felt strongly that the platform: Kansas City America’s Creative Crossroads is also a marketing message that could be used internally, to the 2,000,000 residents of the metropolitan area who can support the arts and creativity in their daily life.  The meeting ended with a spontaneous call and response jazz dialogue between Greg Carroll and the audience!  Leaving me inspired and energized.

Have You Seen How We’re Celebrating Downtown Kansas City? Check It Out!

Urban chic. Creative cool. Mojo. It’s clear that Downtown Kansas City has its swagger back.

In 10 short years, Downtown has blossomed into the region’s most desirable place to live, work, dine, shop, revel in the arts and grow creative, entrepreneurial enterprises. Thousands of people are flocking to Downtown on any given day to taste a sample of what Kansas City had been lacking for a generation.

And, yet, we are reminded time and again that there are those in our Greater Kansas City community who remain unaware of the extent of Downtown’s revitalization. For many of the 2 million consumers who live, work and study in our outstanding suburbs, Downtown may be more urban myth than urban playground.

To bridge that gap, the Downtown Council has taken the lead role in marketing the Downtown experience to consumers right in our own backyard. Bottom line – we simply need more Kansas City area residents routinely shopping, dining, playing and enjoying the riches of our Downtown. It’s essential to Downtown becoming economically sustainable.

Our most recent outreach began in March with the introduction of our first two Downtown TV commercials airing on nine Time Warner Cable channels, reaching more than 400,000 homes in Greater Kansas City. The summer-long campaign is expected to generate more than 4.5 million consumer impressions, as well as guide them to learn more at and to follow us on Facebook.

To view the commercials – “Shopping and All That Jazz” and “Girls Night Out” – click here or just watch them below!



Time Warner subscribers are able to see the Downtown commercials airing in 83 different time slots each week, in addition to 70 Downtown messages that crawl on the Weather Channel. They are creating more than 400,000 impressions per week, or about $4.5 million over 11 weeks.

The commercials most often air in prime time and daytime slots on A&E, Comedy Central (Colbert Report; Daily Show), Discovery Channel (Sons of Guns, Myth Busters and many more), E! (Chelsea Lately, Sex & the City, Kourtney & Kim, etc.), Food Network (Rachael Ray, Glada, etc.), HGTV (Yard Crashers, Color Splash and more), OWN (Oprah, Dr. Phil), TBS (Conan O’Brien) and The Learning Channel (DC Cupcakes, Yes to Dress). Several different Downtown messages also appear on the Weather Channel crawl.

The early buzz generated by the commercials is very encouraging! What do you think? Visit our Facebook page today and let us know!

Downtown Council of Kansas City Committed To Human Services

Over the last two years, the Downtown Council of Kansas City (DTC) championed the private fund raising of more than $1 million to buy and build a home for reStart, a social service agency for the homeless, and the Community Kitchen, operated by Episcopal Community Services. The Downtown Community Services Center at 8th and Paseo provides case management, housing assistance, medical services and hot meals daily to more than 500 people who are either homeless or at risk of homelessness.

“Responding to hunger and homelessness in Downtown Kansas City has been a challenge,” said Sean O’Byrne, Vice President of the Downtown Council. “In response to this need, we have launched a new ‘best practices’ model of human services in our community.”

That “best practices” model has not only inspired the human services community in Kansas City, but also has drawn international attention. In 2010, the Downtown Council received a Merit Award from the International Downtown Association for its leadership and management related to the Community Kitchen and Downtown Community Services Center. In addition, the DTC recently received the Alice Warren Award for excellence in community collaboration from the Homeless Services Coalition of Greater Kansas City.

Just last week, Kansas City’s National Public Radio station, KCUR 89.3 FM, presented a story about the Downtown Council’s commitment to human services in Downtown. Click this link to read and listen to the compelling KCUR story. For the audio, simply press the “listen now” button.

‘Art Works Downtown.’ That’s our story and we’re sticking to it!

The arts and cultural fabric of Downtown Kansas City will be the focus of the Downtown Council’s Annual Luncheon on Friday, Dec. 10 in the Grand Ballroom of the Kansas City Convention Center.

The luncheon theme “Art Works Downtown” will feature numerous artistic elements, including:

  • A keynote address by Rocco Landesman, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts
  • Performances and exhibits by Kansas City visual and performing artists
  • The awarding of Urban Hero honors to 10 individuals who work to advance arts and culture in Downtown

Bill Dietrich, President of the Downtown Council, today announced the names of those Urban Heroes who will be honored next month. These awards recognize small businesses and individuals who are passionate about the arts and in making Downtown Kansas City a more vibrant place to live, work and play. The honorees are people and organizations that have improved the quality of life Downtown or made a positive difference in its arts and cultural communities.

“The Downtown Council is proud to honor 10 Urban Heroes whose work and lives represent how Art Works Downtown,” Dietrich said. The honorees include: Read more