Arts & Culture

Kansas arts organizations pool resources

Leaders of three area arts organizations – Wichita Grand Opera, Salina’s Stiefel Theatre and the McPherson Opera House -- announced earlier this week that they’d formed the Kansas Performing Arts Consortium, a collaboration intended to help them pool resources and work together to promote their respective missions.

The idea for the partnership came about this spring after Wichita Grand Opera, as part of its 10th anniversary celebration, put on performances in several historic theaters in nearby communities, including at the Stiefel and the McPherson Opera House. WGO director Parvan Bakardiev, Stiefel director Jane Gates and McPherson executive director John Holecek began discussing ways the three organizations could help each other.

The members already have scheduled return dates for Wichita Grand Opera to perform in the two theaters, and they’re talking about ways to use the partnership to provide educational programs as well.

The partnership was inspired in part by Gov. Sam Brownback’s elimination of funding for the Kansas Arts Commission, which has created a difficult financial climate for arts organizations in Kansas, Bakardiev said. The two theater directors were eager to discuss possibilities.

“They were very much behind the initiative for our three entities to join forces and come up with innovative approaches about sharing audience information marketing promotion in light of the fact that dollars are getting scarce,” Bakardiev said.

On March 18, The Stiefel will present a performance of the German operetta "Die Fledermaus," which WGO will have performed at Century II the previous day as part of its regular season. On April 27, WGO will travel to McPherson to present a preview of its May 19 Opera on the Lake at Bradley Fair, and also will perform highlights from “Don Pasquale,” which WGO will present in Wichita on April 21 and 22.

It’s possible that other venues and organizations will eventually be invited to join the consortium, Gates said. The partners plan to work together to find opportunities to provide more arts education in their respective communities, and Gates said she could envision them coming together for fundraising projects as well.

“Kansas has a very strong arts scene, and it’s just a great thing to do to partner together,” she said.