Cultural events reflect creativity and diversity of KCMO

By Consuelo Cruz, Arts Marketing Coordinator

The Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund is providing the financial fuel for scores of arts and leisure activities that highlight the cultural diversity of Kansas City, Missouri.

Photo by Craig Sands PhotoGraphic
The Chalk Walk and Festival was a hit last fall, thanks in part to the $7,500 it received through this program. This two-day event showcased hundreds of professional, student and amateur artists who got down on their knees at Crown Center to create lively and powerful images on sponsored brick canvas.

But this was only one of many vibrant attractions offered for local residents and visitors to sample a bit of Kansas City culture.

Managed by the Office of Culture and Creative Services, the NTDF program is not only thriving after 28 years, the number of arts and leisure activities across the City is rising, generating even more demand for these resources to grow.

In fiscal year 2016-17, more than $1.8 million from convention and tourism tax dollars were approved in support of 193 activities. Events like PorchFestKC, the Trolley Run for the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired, Planet Rock Drill Team Show, Comida KC, a world tour of Latin flavors, and performances by the Kansas City Ballet, are more examples of the activities that demonstrate the City’s distinct and diverse neighborhoods through cultural, social, ethnic, historic, educational, and recreational activities.

The OCCS accepts funding applications from non-profit groups both annually and quarterly. Eligible applications are reviewed by a committee of 15 members appointed by Mayor and City Council, two from each council district and three at-large members appointed by the Mayor, who recommend funding awards to City Council for approval.

The application process went green last year, moving completely online to make it even more user-friendly and efficient. Besides money, recipients receive benefits like social media and City website promotion of events, free marketing opportunities via the Culture and Creative Services segment of the Channel 2 Weekly Report, promotion on the electronic City Hall lobby screen and the 26 kiosks located on and near the streetcar route (River Market to Crown Center).

Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre’s Producing Artistic Director Karen Paisley said, that NTDF “Has made such a difference for us and made it possible for us to do so much more than we could do before... it really makes a difference.” The NTDF supports the theatre’s current season.

Director of Creative Services Megan Crigger said she fully expects the list of events to grow even longer in the coming year.

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“This is a testament to the passionate, creative and innovative world of non-profits and the continued vitality of the city’s neighborhoods,” Crigger said. “But with the increase in projects comes an increased demand for the funding to continue to grow. These funds are a way to invest in Kansas City’s people, places and local character that showcase the vitality of the City as a tourist destination, which ultimately grows the fund.”

Applicant workshops will be held in the summer to help local nonprofits learn about this funding program and any changes to the application and selection process.

NTDF Program Manager Denise Dillard said helping applicants through the application process is a professional highlight. “I enjoy working with genuinely passionate people, helping to connect them to City resources,” she said.

Stay tuned to the City’s website (kcmo.gov/citymanagersoffice/ntdf/) for upcoming application deadlines and workshop dates. Don’t forget to check out Channel 2 (Weekly Report air times are 8 a.m., 5 p.m. and midnight), and the kiosks located throughout downtown, for information about upcoming NTDF-supported events.

For questions about the application process, contact Denise Dillard at 816-513-3451 or Denise.Dillard@KCMO.org.