The National Endowment for the Arts on Tuesday announced its first round of "Our Town" funding - $6.5 million in grants to strengthen the arts through public-private partnerships. In Missouri, one initiative was selected: the restoration of the historic Boone Theater in the 18th and Vine Jazz District.
Kansas City, Mo. – The National Endowment for the Arts will pay $200,000 towards the restoration of an old venue in Kansas City's 18th and Vine Jazz District.
The historic Boone Theater was named for Missouri composer and pianist "Blind" Boone whose music bridged folk and ragtime. And Boone is credited with developing a walking bass line that led the way to the hard-swinging style of Kansas City jazz.
KCUR's Laura Spencer recently met with the Downtown Council of Kansas City's Bill Dietrich and Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City's Harlan Brownlee outside the long vacant theater. Future plans anticipate the building could become the new home for the now Memphis-based Folk Alliance International, but the NEA's "Our Town" grant will be used during the planning phase.
Harlan Brownlee says NEA Chair Rocco Landesman's visit in December generated a lot of energy and excitement about exploring new ideas.