This post about Kansas City Young Audiences
was originally presented at under Brent’s pen.

Love fostering education and development of art for kids? Familiar with Kansas City Young Audiences (KCYA)? “Nope” (or some variation) is a common response. Don’t feel bad. Up until about a year ago I wasn’t familiar with KCYA either. Now … I’m on the board.

It’s common because Kansas City Young Audiences is often the spark behind a child’s creativity in a Kansas City classroom, but it often doesn’t play a front-and-center role.

And how could it?

So … Becca and I have two children. Our son, “G”, is a full-fledged teenager and our daughter, “D”, is a pre-teen. One of our mealtime rituals is to play a game of “best part of your day/worst part of your day.”

She: When we actually can sit down for a meal.

“D” also loves that KCYA has their own line of chocolate bars, courtesy of André’s Confiserie Suisse.

School — and the arts, in fact — often make their way into the game. We encourage art for our kids and reading in the home. Becca enjoys painting. I write creatively.

But here was the typical exchange when they were younger:

Kids: “We did this awesome art project in school today, involving XYC. There was this really nice, funny lady (or gentlemen) who came in to show us how to do it.”

Us: “Very cool! I’d love to see it. Do you remember who the artist was … or where they were from?”

Kids: “Uh. Hmmm. Nope.”

It’s a pretty good likelihood that Kansas City Young Audiences helped arrange having that guest artist attend the classroom.

Already share in the pain of my household and know we can do better to support art for kids in Kansas City? Then …

Donate Now to Kansas City Young Audiences

So … Who is Kansas City Young Audiences (KCYA)?

Since 1961, Kansas City Young Audiences (KCYA) has been the leading provider of high-quality arts education in the KC metro. Established as a non-profit agency by a group of dedicated volunteers, KCYA’s original mission was to provide children in Kansas City schools an opportunity to see and hear classical music performances.

Over the years it’s grown into so much more to foster art for kids in Kansas City.

KCYA now provides programs in creative writing, dance, theatre, visual arts and music. Serving the greater Kansas City area, Eastern Kansas and Western Missouri. KCYA is an affiliate of the national Young Audiences Arts for Learning network, the leading provider of arts education programs in the United States.

And since its founding, Kansas City Young Audiences arts programs have helped more than 5 million children discover new ways of seeing things and expressing themselves.

Here’s EXACTLY What Kansas City Young Audiences Does …

Kansas City Young Audiences works with a roster of more than 150 artists to provide dynamic and educational arts programs to children throughout the greater Kansas City area in schools, libraries, community centers, and the KCYA facility, which opened in early 2017, at 3732 Main St.

KCYA 3732 Main St. Kansas CIty

KCYA offers performances, residencies, workshops, professional development, and after-school programs in most artistic disciplines.

How Does Kansas City Young Audiences work?

So … not every KC metro family is as fortunate as ours. Becca’s volunteer work at Amethyst Place continually grounds us in the reality for many people.

Compounding matters, some kids are fortunate enough to receive arts education and inspiration in the classroom … while others have to go out of their way to seek it out.

That’s why KCYA has what I like to call — 3 Pillars of Services:

School & Community Programs (SCP)

KCYA’s original programming, places the finest professional artists in the classroom to deliver arts programming integrated with core curriculum. Educators, PTAs, librarians, and community service providers can select from a wide variety of quality programs that are specifically designed to deliver school curriculum in highly engaging ways.

With performances, workshops, and residencies in many artistic disciplines, covering numerous academic topics, educators look to KCYA to enhance and reinforce their students’ classroom learning.

Arts Partners

Established in 1985, Arts Partners is a unique consortium of premier arts organizations collaborating to provide high-quality arts programming to school districts across the Kansas City metro area. Arts Partners is an innovative arts-in-education program, successfully integrating the arts into the curriculum of participating school districts.

Arts Partners programs are implemented across the participating district ensuring every student has an opportunity to receive the benefits of arts enriched learning experiences. Students are engaged in arts programs tied directly to their math, science, literature, reading, and social studies curriculum provided by the Arts Partners organizations.

Kansas City-area Arts Partners include (just to name a few):

Community School of the Arts (CSA)

Opened in 2004, the Community School of the Arts (CSA) provides students within the Kansas City community a comprehensive arts experience that inspires them to discover and develop their unique talents. CSA classes in dance, theatre, music and the visual arts take place at Kansas City Young Audiences.

Visit KCYA online or call, 816-531-4022, to learn more about CSA programs.

How Kansas City Young Audiences Fosters Art for Kids?

Through its mission, KCYA maintains a focus on harnessing the power of the arts in the learning process. By offering the broadest array of arts programs in the area, with highest quality teaching artists.

Building on its 56-year track record of expanding the minds (and thinking and confidence) of children through the arts, it makes arts education more accessible to all, particularly underfunded communities.

An example of expanded programming are the Garage Band classes taught each weekday. Becca and I attended the Garage Band Showcase in April. It was amazing to see kids out performing where their guitars were taller than they were.

A BIG “TO DO” in 2017

I previously mentioned that Kansas City Young Audiences moved into new digs in 2017.

After sixteen months of searching, visits to nearly 50 properties, and seven months of planning and construction, KCYA moved into its first permanent home in its 56-year history. Designed by Helix Architecture + Design and renovated by McCownGordon Construction, the home at 3732 Main Street has quickly become a hub of creativity and art for kids in Kansas City.

On Jan. 21, 2017, KCYA welcomed nearly 600 children, families, teachers, and supporters to an inspiring Grand Opening Celebration.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James was in attendance and espoused the benefits of art for kids and, well, mindfulness for all of us:

We cannot underestimate the value of the arts, not just in our city, not as an economic driver, but as something that brings peace to our souls and our minds.

— Kansas City Mayor Sly James … at the KCYA Grand Opening Celebration


And the new location has been such a wonderful environment for KCYA. Since the grand opening, 3732 Main has allowed KCYA to host professional development workshops with the KC STEM Alliance and other area organizations, art exhibitions with multiple community partners, a student theatre performance with KCYA’s tenant partner, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, and many entertaining Community School of the Arts sessions.

Why Art for Kids is Important to Us?

Our daughter post dance recital

We support art for kids because it means so much to our kids. As much as we’re role models to them. They remind us that creativity is an integral part of our lives.

Once you provide the opportunities to participate in the arts, kids often latch on and crave those opportunities to express themselves.

That’s certainly been the way with our kids.

Whether it’s a dance recital, cartoon illustrations of four-legged family members or rehearsals of “The Little Mermaid” in our kitchen, our daughter “D” certainly has a creative bug.

“D” and her long-time companion, Mr. Hop, taking a bow after an in-kitchen rehearsal of “The Little Mermaid.”

She: And I’m quite fond of the kids’ clay creations that are hiding in the background of D’s bow pic.

Our son “G” on the other hand, is a bit more camera shy. But he enjoys creating behind the camera. Whether photography or videography, he really takes to the composition and technical problem solving that photography creative offers.

We could spend hours talking movies and how both the story and the production happens in filming. He’s funny because he spots nearly every continuity issue in a movie.

How Can You Help Art for Kids in Kansas City?

If you love the arts and supporting art for kids in Kansas City, you can help. Even a $10 contribution.

Donate Now to Kansas City Young Audiences

Kansas City Young Audiences has been serving the KC area since 1961. But after moving to its new location in 2017, KCYA camp enrollments have increased substantially. As part of this growth, KCYA has also seen an increase in the number of students who need financial support in order to participate in camps and classes. We estimate we’ll need $12,000 in scholarship money this year compared to $9,500 last year.

KCYA scholarships are funded entirely by donors. Donors like me … and hopefully … you! I’m running a KCYA Summer Scholarship Fund challenge online until June 17. I’ll be matching the total contributions, up to $600.

Where will the money go? Summer is right around the corner. And again this year, Community School of the Arts is offering eight weeks of engaging arts camps and classes (June 4 – Aug. 3). Your money will go directly to KCYA to pay for summer camp and class scholarships.

So … please consider a donation to KCYA’s Summer Scholarship fund — because every child deserves the transformational spark the arts ignite!

Art for Kids at KCYA Summer Camp

  • $35 — Provides a week’s worth of supplies for seven campers
  • $65 — Supports a child in an hour-long class for eight weeks
  • $115 — Supports a child in a week-long half-day camp
  • $175 or so — Supports a child in a week-long full-day camp

Donate Now to Kansas City Young Audiences

Learn EVEN More Later In the Year

And, later in the year, if you want to get to know the organization better, join Becca and me at the Spark the Arts in Young Hearts luncheon on Tuesday, October 9, 2018, at the Uptown Theater, 3700 Broadway Blvd.

She: It’s funny how I find out about these engagements by proof reading our blog posts.

There, we’ll spotlight the important role the arts play in the lives of young people.

You’ll also experience inspiring and entertaining performances provided by students and teaching artists, and will join in celebrating those in the community who embody the KCYA mission to engage all youth in the arts, promote creativity, and inspire success in education.

I’ll update this post with more info once details go online. But we’d love it if you could make it.