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Rush For TEDxKC Tickets Overloads Kauffman Center

As of 12:35 pm the day tickets went on sale, TEDxKC was officially sold out. Ticket sales opened at 10 am Wednesday for TEDxKC's August 28th event called "The Long View."

If you happen to be one of the many who tried to get one of the 1600 tickets for this year's TEDxKC - maybe you called the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, got a busy signal and pressed automatic redial or waited on hold; or you continued to hit refresh on the Kauffman Center's website without bringing up the TEDxKC page - well, you're out of luck. The event is sold out.

The Long Wait

At 11:30 am, about 30 people waited in line at the Kauffman Center box office; it's an hour and a half after tickets sales opened for the August TEDxKC event, an evening of live lectures and performances.

TEDxKC is the local arm of TED, the nonprofit dedicated to "ideas worth spreading." For the last few years, events have taken place at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in a packed auditorium (seats 500) - and then an added overflow room.

This year, TEDxKC moved to a larger space: Helzberg Hall (seats 1600) at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

Dalene Bradford, Director of Patron Services, stepped out to provided an update. "You all are competing now with people on line and on the phone for the last 200," Bradford said. "We're really close to the end of the tickets."

Chris Moore has watched TEDx talks online, but he's never attended one in person. After trying to buy tickets on the Kauffman Center website for about 30 minutes with no luck, Moore took an early lunch from his job on the Country Club Plaza and drove to the venue to wait in line.

"I actually got tickets (online) and when I went to finish the purchase it said that the website crashed," Moore said. "At that point, I figured if I wanted tickets, I needed to come down here."

Harvey Fried also attempted to buy tickets online, but he "couldn't get in. Tried the phone, couldn't get in." He drove from his Prairie Village, Kan. home and waited in line about 35 minutes to buy tickets.

When asked if the wait was worth it, Fried laughed and said, "We'll find out in August."

Demand Exceeded Expectations

This year's TEDxKC event sold out in 2 1/2 hours.

"Pretty hectic," said Amanda Muller, about her morning staffing the Kauffman Center ticket counter by herself. Before tickets sold out, she was checking her computer monitor every few seconds to see if there were any tickets available. Some tickets cropped up after sessions expired for customers.

"Usually, especially if there's a big event, we'll have several people up here," Muller said. "Today, we were only staffed for one person because we weren't aware we were going to have this sort of numbers. Otherwise, there would have been two or three people up here with me."

John Mulvihill, part of the TEDxKC organizing group, said that according to the Kauffman Center: "It was the greatest demand for an event they've had to date."

That's the upside. But the downside, said Mulvihill, is that "unfortunately, there were some people who weren't able to process their tickets quickly, some people got kicked out of the system, and that is very disappointing."

"It was not a perfect situation," he said. "They (the Kauffman Center) couldn't be more sorry for it. That's the reality of the situation."

Mulvihill said the TEDxKC group and the Kauffman Center will be brainstorming about how to make it up to people who "invested time and were not able to successfully get tickets this morning."

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.
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