From the first day of my fellowship, I’ve been on a mission to spread the word about the amazing art collection at Arrowhead Stadium. There are over 50 local and regional artists in the collection and the range of size, style, and medium is unmatched in the Kansas City area. In fact, the Chiefs were applauded by the National Endowment for the Arts as wonderful example on how large sports franchises can support the arts.
The Arrowhead Art Collection is nationally acclaimed and yet those in Kansas City are often shocked when I tell them my role with the organization. So the primary focus of my fellowship, in addition to supporting the day to day operations involved with the collection, is to forge strategic partnerships in the community.
I am the fourth fellow from UMKC to have the opportunity to work with this collection. The ground work that those before me laid has allowed me to advance the collection. Matt Reeves, Austin Williams, and Brooke Leisinger all had a major role in curriculum development for the children’s groups who tour the art collection at the stadium. Up until recently, the children’s groups had been the primary focus of the fellows. The organization wanted to support the children’s tour with Visual Thinking Strategies developed by the fellows. They are awesome!
Over the last year, in addition to the children’s groups, the fellows were able to organize events such as “paint and sip” and “cookie decorating” that allowed adult groups the opportunity to engage with the collection for a fun event.
Since I started, I have met with organizations in the Kansas City art community to expand the opportunities for adult groups and specifically arts related groups in the city to experience the collection. Over the last five years working in the Kansas City art community, I’ve found that the best partnerships are formed when both parties have a deeper sense about the mission of the other organization. So, I have been working on bringing outside arts organizations in and the Chiefs organization out into the arts community.
I have been pleasantly surprised with the enthusiasm and support that I have received both internally and externally in the work I have done this semester.
On November 2nd, November First Friday, I organized an event for members of the Chiefs organization to visit six (!) arts organizations in the Crossroads. I led the group through the venues and spoke a bit about the differences in the arts organizations and the exhibitions. The variety in the Kansas City arts community is vast and something to be celebrated. I believed that if the Chiefs organization was to begin thinking about strategic partnerships with organizations, they should have a better idea of the different types of organizations in the community.
Conversely, on the night of November 20th, I was able to successfully plan and execute an event for the members of the KCPT to come into Arrowhead to experience the art collection. The event invited 150 of the patrons who support KCPT to come to the stadium for a behind the scenes experience with the art. I was able to recruit ten of the artists who are affiliated with the collection to come for the event to share some of their personal inspiration behind the works. The response to the event was overwhelmingly positive and many avenues to continued partnership discussed.
Although its only my first semester with the organization, I feel that I have been able to make a positive impact. I’ve honed some of the skill I’ve developed in my school and professional work and have been able to translate that to a large-scale organization.
I’m excited to see what next semester will bring!!