Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to go to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts—you know, that beautiful, amazing building on Broadway in the Crossroads District that has quickly become an architectural icon of our city.
Ever since its grand opening in 2011, I dreamed about going one night and enjoying the magic of symphonic music.
Luckily for me, my older brother and his wife are season ticket holders, and they kindly offered their seats for my girlfriend and me to attend.
If you haven’t been to the Kauffman Center yet, I can assure you it is as marvelous on the inside as on the outside.
When we got to our seats, we were surprised to see how close we were to the stage (second row, center, to be precise). The design ensures that each seat is a great seat, acoustically and visually. From where we sat, we could actually hear the musicians breathe.
I knew I was in for a treat as the musicians began tuning their instruments.
I flipped through the pages in the program before the concert started, and I learned that the Kansas City Symphony is ranked among the top 10 in the nation.
The following day, I learned something that didn’t sit well with me.
I learned that the annual budget for the Kansas City Symphony is about $13 million.
This season, Chiefs defensive end Tamba Hali earns $11.25 million, and defensive end Tyson Jackson will earn $14.72 million next season.
Think of it, the yearly earnings of one football player are enough to cover all of the salaries (an orchestra typically has about 80 musicians) and operational costs of one of the top 10 symphonies in the nation.
It got me to thinking, “Is this fair?”
How is it that our own Chiefs, who have won only two games this season, consume such vast amounts of money?
On the other hand, we have one of the best symphonies in the nation running on a fraction of that cost and bringing in musicians of the caliber of Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Lise de la Salle and last week’s Osmo Vänskä.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a sports fan. I play soccer, and I love baseball, basketball and football.
But I also think the balance is quite off when it comes to athletics and the arts.
I believe Kansas Citians should support, fund and be proud of our symphony in the same way we are of our sports teams.
The symphony is an organization that is putting our city on the map, a group of artists who are representing us so well to the nation and the world.
That night, after the concert, I realized how fortunate we are to have a place like the Kauffman Center and an organization like the Kansas City Symphony.
As my girlfriend and I walked in to the Kauffman Center, we couldn’t help but notice that we were among the youngest people in the audience.
I highly encourage you to attend a performance, if you are able, and experience the wonder and magic of the symphony.