The Kansas City Symphony has been quietly fundraising over the last four years with the goal of adding $55 million to its endowment. On Wednesday, in front of more than 100 donors and arts officials on the stage of Helzberg Hall, the Symphony announced that they'd raised nearly $52 million.
Now, they're seeking public support for the "Masterpiece Campaign."
These additional funds, says executive director Frank Byrne, will allow the organization to pay competitive wages and it will keep the Symphony available to all ages, through education programs, free events and concerts.
"We will bring the highest quality live orchestral music to our community performed by talented musicians who live here and are integral members of our community," says Byrne.
"We will continue growing artistically through recordings and partnerships with world-class guest artists. And we will offer competitive salaries to ensure that we keep these talented musicians right here in Kansas City."
Board chairman Bill Lyons says music director Michael Stern, now in his 12th year with the Symphony, continues to provide inspiration.
"His passion for music is infectious. His belief that music is, and should be, vitally important to us as people makes us sit up and take note," says Lyons. "Since he arrived in Kansas City, we have been on the rise. He has elevated our artistic expression. He has lifted our horizons. And he has kept our audiences engaged and growing."
When he's asked why music matters, Stern says he quotes the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who said: "Without music, life would be a mistake."
"I also do believe that music is more important now than ever before. Through the prism of the arts, we can determine how we define ourselves as individuals and as a community," he added.
Byrne says the Symphony still has to raise about $3.1 million in order to reach its $55 million endowment goal. But, he says, after $2 million more has been donated, supporters have pledged to finish the campaign with a $1.25 million contribution.
"To raise the final $2 million, we will need the support of hundreds and even thousands of people in this region who believe as we do that every great city in this nation needs a great symphony orchestra," says Byrne.
Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter @lauraspencer.