Paseo Academy

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

When Paul Dorrell opened an art gallery 25 years ago, people told him he was crazy for representing only Missouri and Kansas artists.

"Everybody thought I was out of my mind," Dorrell says. "That it was a sure road to bankruptcy, that nobody would ever care about Kansas and Missouri artists, that Kansas City and the Midwest in general were a lost cause culturally, so why bother?"

Lauren Kirby / KCUR

Stacy Lafontant is nervous. The 16-year-old junior at The Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts is about to step up to the podium to do something she’s never done before in public: Recite poetry.

“I’m going up in front of a lot of people,” she says, “and there might be kids that are better than me; I might forget the words.”