Outgoing BARRE KC President Jacquie Ward grew up dancing. For her it has always been one of the ultimate forms of expression.
She and her husband have been longtime supporters of Kansas City’s arts scene and season ticket holders for the Kansas City Symphony and Kansas City Ballet.
“Honestly I think people sometimes don’t expect us to have the caliber of ballet that we do in KC,” Jacquie explains. “If they’ve never been to a performance or aren’t sure what to expect, I tell them they are going to be pleasantly shocked with what they see. I’ve attended ballets in a lot of cities and I think KCB does a really great job.”
About five years ago, a friend knew Jacquie had been attending the ballet and had gone to many shows. So, he approached Jacquie about joining KC Ballet’s BARRE group for young professionals.
“My friend mentioned they had a board spot open,” Jacquie remembers. “So, I met the group and I really liked what they were doing. I’d always had a fantastic time at shows, but it was really neat to have that with young professionals, too. It added a really fun social component.”
Jacquie wasn’t new to board service having served on two nonprofit boards before joining BARRE. So, she accepted the position. She currently serves on five nonprofit boards as well as a number of corporate ones. She appreciates how board service allows her to keep developing professionally while making a difference for organizations in her community.
“Arts are how I get a lot of joy out of life, and I want to do my part to make sure someone else gets that same chance,” she says. She believes that in order for opportunities like these to continue for others in future generations, those who feel the call, must take the reins for a while.
“When I took over as president last year, the two ways I measured myself were around membership and the Black & White Soireé fundraiser,” Jacquie admits. “My biggest accomplishment was membership. We ended last year with around 35 members and we ended this year with about 72. I think that a lot of that was due to continued outreach by the whole board. I’m really happy that we were able to get to that number.”
The annual Black & White Soireé was supposed to take place in April, which was in the thick of stay at home orders for Kansas and Kansas City, Mo., due to COVID-19. It meant even though the committee had worked really hard and there were sponsors and ticket buyers, the event couldn’t go on as planned.
“The unwinding of the Soireé was an unexpected challenge,” Jacquie affirms. “And, it’s something that is never easy to do, especially in an economy where a lot of people were having to do it. So, having the right conversations with sponsors and working with vendors was important.”
Part of Jacquie’s job was managing those sponsor and vendor relationships. In the end, most of them either donated their sponsorship or rolled it into next year’s event. Because of this, BARRE still raised over $7k for the Ballet’s Reach Out and Dance (R.O.A.D.) Program.
“The whole board was great, but there are two people specifically that I’d want to mention,” Jacquie says. “John Springer was our first-year Soireé chair who jumped in full force on planning. It wasn’t easy to plan or unplan and he did a really good job. Also, Kathryn Walter was membership chair and a lot of the growth and outreach came from her putting processes into place. She scheduled a couple of membership socials that were really important.”
After five years on the BARRE KC Board, Jacquie has agreed to serve one more year as ex-officio past president. That will be the end of her second three-year term.
Hope for the Future of BARRE KC
When asked what she hopes for the future of BARRE KC, Jacquie said: “It’s really tough because we don’t know what next year looks like, not just for the ballet, but for a lot of people personally. We need to find ways to continue to find value for members. And the biggest goal, I think, would be to continue to grow membership and the Soireé. We did great this year with the challenges we had. I just hope both of these continue to grow.”