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.