© 2023 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

NEA Awards Funding to Renovate Historic 18th and Vine Theater

Boone Theater at 18th and Highland, Kansas City, Mo.
photo: Laura Spencer/KCUR
Boone Theater at 18th and Highland, Kansas City, Mo.

By Laura Spencer


Kansas City, Mo. – The National Endowment for the Arts announced its first round of "Our Town" grants on Tuesday. Projects in 34 states, including restoring an historic theater in Kansas City, Missouri, were awarded more than $6.5 million. KCUR's Laura Spencer reports. -------------------------------

NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman says he uses a framework called creative placemaking: "Which simply put, are the ways that towns and cities shape their social, physical and economic characters."

"Our Town" grants require a partnership between local governments and arts organizations. A proposal spearheaded by the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City and the Downtown Council of Kansas City to renovate the historic Boone Theater in Kansas City's 18th and Vine Jazz District received a grant for $200,000. The Boone Theater was named for John "Blind" Boone, a ragtime pianist, composer, and performer.

NEA's Director of Design Jason Schupback described the Kansas City proposal during an online press conference. "The project is designed to strengthen the existing arts and cultural district by transforming a blighted vacant space into a vibrant cultural center."

Plans are in place, pending an estimated $2.5 million restoration, to turn the Boone Theater into the headquarters and performance space for the Folk Alliance International now based in Memphis.

Listen to an extended interview about the Boone Theater, its past and its future, here.

Download recent arts stories or subscribe to the KCUR Arts Podcast

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and powerful storytelling.
Your donation helps make nonprofit journalism available for everyone.