Evolution of KC Studio

KC Studio, July/August 2021

The Challenge

KC Studio magazine’s mission has grown exponentially since its inception due to a sharp decline in arts journalism nationwide, particularly in newspapers.  The importance of such coverage was highlighted in a recent Wallace Foundation initiative granting $52 million aimed at audience growth for 26 arts organizations in other parts of the country:  “Experienced journalists are being squeezed out…this gap needs to be filled or the transmission of arts news is likely to weaken demand for the arts.”  President of the Wallace Foundation, Will Miller, said the grants were intended to help institutions reach more people at a time when “attracting and engaging new audiences is challenging for arts organizations because, even as the number of arts groups has grown, national rates of participation in the arts have declined, arts education has waned, and competition for ways to spend leisure time has increased.” – The New York Times, “$52 Million Push to Help Arts Institutions Find New Audiences,” April 15, 2015.

Evolution of KC Studio

KC Studio’s first bimonthly edition premiered May, 2008 and the publication has gone through many changes, while our mission has remained audience building on behalf of performing, visual, cinematic and literary arts, large and small, in the metropolitan region.   Since its inception, KC Studio has covered over 2,200 organizations or independent artists with feature articles.  Consistent with our mission to form on-going partnerships, KC Studio and KCPT Arts Upload have collaborated with curated features in the magazine, on television and Flatland in 2016.

The successful 3 year promotion of six arts organizations called performARTS provided an experienced base for KC Studio’s formation of a new partnership in January, 2013.  The Arts Consortium was formed of arts organizations, to which two pages of each magazine edition are dedicated.  Members tell their own story, with full editorial support, in each edition of the magazine, as well as on social media; and they benefit from the cross-marketing effect of KC Studio’s mailing list totaling 21,000 homes of top donors, prospects and regular attendees provided by the Arts Consortium.  The current Arts Consortium members are: ArtsKC-Regional Arts Council, American Jazz Museum, Harriman-Jewell Series, Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City Public Library, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Performing Arts Series at JCCC and UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance. KC Studio continues to form partnerships with the following Emerging Arts Partners organizations: Avila University, Heartland Men’s Chorus, Jewish Community Center, Kansas City Actors Theatre, Kansas City Friends of Chamber Music, Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre and Mid-Continent Library.

The year 2015 brought great opportunity for KC Studio with the hiring of Alice Thorson, art critic for The Kansas City Star for 22 years, as the magazine’s editor. Over the past 18 months, Thorson has heightened KC Studio’s expertise by consolidating a roster of respected critical voices, including Libby Hanssen, (classical music and dance), Robert Butler (film), Elisabeth Kirsch (visual arts) and Robert Trussell (theater). She has also introduced specialist columns by Julius A. Karash (arts and business) and Susan Schmelzer (arts policy). Other improvements Thorson has made to the magazine are regular cartoons by Tom Toro, whose work is also found in the New Yorker, New York Times, Harvard Business Review and Audubon, and the hiring of Jim Barcus as KC Studio’s staff photographer.

Support for the Arts Engagement Foundation of Kansas City will allow this growth to continue, while maintaining uncompromised editorial integrity.

To learn more about KC Studio, read articles and more, visit kcstudio.org.