Kansas City needs art festival, but what kind?


The city council got a briefing on Kansas City’s creative environment.

Some cities feature a jazz festival, some a blues bash, and Kansas City needs a festival of its own, Mayor Sly James said today.

“We need to look for something for Kansas City that combines all of our assets,” he said.

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The remark came after arts officials and those with a wide range of economic development groups reported to James and the city manager.

The city needs a wider, broader and more coordinated approach to economic development, James said.

As for the arts, “We talk about it more than we show it and I think we need to find a way to show it.”

Porter Arneill, public art administrator for the Municipal Arts Commission, agreed.

“There’s sort of a Midwestern custom of not bragging too much and I think we need to brag more,” he said.

The two are to meet later to discuss creation of a festival, James said.

Arneill reported today that the arts are already major drivers of the economy.

Financial numbers show that creative industry workers make up 5 percent of the city workforce, he said.

There are 15,258 creative workers, he said, with the top five occupations being photographers, graphic designers, musicians/singers, PR specialists and writers and authors.

They make an average of $19.62 cents an hour, he said.

And all of that is before the new city budget, which  includes money for an office of culture and creative services and other funds to promote art, Arneill noted.

A mayor’s task force that recommended that change and also recommended creating a signature arts festival that highlights the city’s arts, culture and creativity.

Apparently it’s time to get creative about that.


  1. Eric S says:

    What do they think First Fridays are? What do they think Middle of the Map Fest is? We have outlets in place to showcase our creative assets. If the city council doesn’t think we are doing enough, why don’t we support and promote our current venues?

  2. Mike C says:

    Is the writer of this article familiar with the Kansas City Fringe Festival? This July will be its 10th anniversary. Art, theater, film, dance, burlesque, and so on. Their website is http://www.kcfringe.org

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