Founder of Stepp & Rothwell, Kathy Stepp, leads Kansas City Ballet’s Board as president. Her term covered both the 2017-2018 60th Anniversary Season, as well as, this 2018-2019 Season when Septime Webre’s The Wizard of Oz had its world premiere. We want to thank Kathy for her leadership and hard work. We also want to learn more about how her role as president has made an impact.
HOW DID YOU GET INTRODUCED TO KANSAS CITY BALLET?
A client invited us to join them at a ballet performance. This was back before the Kauffman Center, and it happened to be springtime. I knew nothing about the ballet, except for a dim understanding of The Nutcracker. The performance we attended was far from my “Nutcracker” perception—it was a mixed rep. I remember that during the intermission Jeff Bentley came out on stage to invite the audience members to sign up for next year’s season tickets out in the lobby. I so loved what I saw that day that I marched right up to the desk in the lobby and bought season tickets for the next year!
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BEST EXPERIENCE WITH KANSAS CITY BALLET?
There have been so many great experiences with KCB—from performances to patron trips to the Kennedy Center to balls—that it is very hard to say. But if I have to choose something, I’d say it’s been the opportunity to meet so many great and dedicated people. The board members are wonderful; the staff is wonderful; the patrons are wonderful; and the dancers are simply amazing!
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT DURING YOUR TIME AS BOARD PRESIDENT?
I can’t take credit alone for anything, but I am proud that during my tenure we visited with Austin Ballet to learn about ways to energize our audience development efforts, which led to our current collaboration with data miners and marketers, and that we got the Endowment campaign off the ground. We also had a fabulous 60th anniversary party, and we worked to integrate the Guild and the BARRE groups more closely into our structure.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE TO SHARE WITH OTHERS ABOUT KANSAS CITY BALLET?
I love to share my personal experience of learning what athletes the dancers are and how impressive the productions are, in all respects. The Ballet brings happiness to people’s lives! Not only is the dancing beautiful, but it’s such a collaboration of dance and music and lights and costumes… It’s simply amazing!
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO INTRODUCE NEW PEOPLE TO THE BALLET? HOW DO YOU DO THIS?
I think that many people have a misunderstanding of ballet, as I did. I so want everyone to experience it once—they will be blown away! My husband and I have four season tickets, so we bring other people with us to performances.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED AS PRESIDENT THAT YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE OTHERWISE?
The most important lesson I learned is that the people involved—from the dancers to the administrative staff and everyone in between—are passionate about what they do, to an extent I haven’t seen in any other walk of life. Also, because I focus on finances in my day job, it was eye-opening to see the financial workings of an art company. The performances simply cannot be self-sustaining, because there are a limited number of seats, and it is important to keep the prices at an accessible level. Therefore, an awful lot of people have to support the arts.
HOW HAS YOUR PHILANTHROPY AND VOLUNTEERISM TO THE BALLET BENEFITED YOU PERSONALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY?
My husband and I get a lot more than we give! We’ve met wonderful people and best friends, as well as dancers from around the world!