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Meet Don and Pat Dagenais

Don and Pat Dagenais have a long history of supporting the arts in Kansas City. In fact, they invested in the arts in 1976 before they even bought a car. “We’d ride the bus downtown to enjoy our season tickets to the Kansas City Philharmonic,” Don remembers. “The Philharmonic was the precursor to the Kansas City Symphony.”

A love of music started a journey of arts appreciation for Don. He remembers his first experience with an orchestra was a touring performance by the Kansas City Philharmonic. They played in his local high school auditorium in the small town Kansas when he was a kid. It made a big impression. Don went on to learn the trumpet, viola, violin and piano. He also teaches classes on opera. For Pat, who grew up in Hawaii, her experience with symphony music, dance and opera began by tagging along with Don.

Over the last 40 years, Don has served on more than 20 boards for a variety of arts organizations over the years. At present, he is active with eight. But he’s also volunteered and supported even more.

“Any arts organization needs more than just you buying tickets to performances (which is great) but the ticket price only supports part. I realized if you’re going to support an arts organization you need to do more to support it than to simply go,” he urges. “I want these organizations to continue so that our children and grandchildren and others in the community can experience them for years to come.”

Developing a Legacy of Arts Appreciation

The Dagenaises have two daughters and two grandchildren. “Our daughters took ballet lessons when they were young and developed an appreciation for ballet.” But Don and Pat also made sure to provide them with a variety of arts experiences so they would encourage a love for the arts with them as well.

When their daughters went off to college, Don and Pat started buying season tickets to Kansas City Ballet. That was about 15 years ago. Now they take their grandson Milo along. “He LOVED The Wizard of Oz, and his parents take him to plays and things as well, so I think it’s working,” says Pat with a smile.

Developing a Giving Mindset

In 1982, the couple received a pitch that convinced them to give money to an endowment fund for the first time. The gist was this: If KC didn’t have a symphony orchestra, one of the top ten goals as a city would be to get one. In fact, the Kansas City Philharmonic had just gone out of business… so rather than lose the orchestra completely and have musicians move out of town for work, we needed to keep them here. It is a lot harder to start a symphony from scratch once talented musicians are gone. We needed to immediately create a symphony orchestra to employ most of the musicians from the philharmonic to continue that tradition in KC. That need started the ball rolling for the Dagenaises.

Don and Pat have given a gift to Moving into the Future Endowment Campaign for Kansas City Ballet. This gift will continue supporting their passion of music and dance for generations.

“We give because they need it,” Pat says. “Seriously. They need it. We have money that I guess we can afford to give.” Don agrees, “We realize it’s important for these organizations to continue, and if we don’t give money and if other people don’t give like us, we as a city can’t support them.”

Why Give to Kansas City Ballet?

“Our contributions have increased a lot over the last 10-15 years because I think the ballet company has just gotten a lot better,” Don admits. “We’ve always enjoyed ballet but I think of the quality of the artistry has grown a lot, especially since the move to the Kauffman Center. We have world class ballet and we need to keep it.”

That thinking has been part of their inspiration to increase their annual donations and establish a Legacy through the endowment.

“The better an organization is,” he says, “the more you want to see it preserved and we’re inspired to give more money.”

What are you passionate about?

To make a gift that is meaningful to you and makes a lasting impact for Kansas City Ballet, please contact Director of Gift Planning Rebecca Zandarski at 816.216.5597 or

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