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Richard J. Stern Foundation
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The Richard J. Stern Foundation Supports Arts

Thanks to the support of the Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts, the Kansas City Ballet School’s South Campus renovation and expansion is quickly becoming a reality. The South Campus at Meadowbrook will provide a welcoming place for people of all ages and abilities to experience the transformative power of dance. With four studios in the new space, this facility will help meet the growing demand for exceptional dance training in the community. ”It’s a big commitment for parents to offer ballet education to their sons and daughters,” says Stern Foundation board member Michael Fields. “If you can do it near where you live, maybe more children will have that opportunity.” 



Richard J. Stern (1913-2001) was an investment banker whose work in the Kansas City community introduced him to a wide range of businesses and nonprofit organizations. This was especially true with the arts. Richard served on the board of several major Kansas City arts organizations, including the Kansas City Philharmonic and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and he was a founding board member of the Kansas City Symphony. According to Michael, “Richard understood how important the arts were to attract investment and in improving the quality of life in Kansas City.” 


A pivotal event for Richard was witnessing the Philharmonic disband in 1982. That experience greatly influenced his philosophy as a philanthropist and ultimately led to the creation of the Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts in 1986. He wanted to support organizations that were good stewards of their money and mission. “Richard recognized how important it is to have the arts as a major asset of a community,” says Michael Fields. “He saw it as important that they be well-run and well managed.” His foundation has since supported numerous arts programs and capital campaigns in Kansas City. 



Kansas City Ballet School’s (KCBS) South Campus, nestled in the heart of Prairie Village, Kansas, will offer exceptional dance training in a space that fosters creativity and inspires self-expression. The $2.1 million renovation will provide an extensive range of studio classes for both teens and adults designed to promote mental and physical wellbeing. The success of this campaign has been possible because of the support of individuals and foundations such as the Stern Foundation.  


According to Stern Foundation board member Michael Fields, the Stern Foundation’s support of the South Campus is an investment in Kansas City Ballet’s success. “We can be proud of supporting this capital expansion,” said Michael. “The Bolender Center is a beautiful facility, and the Ballet has maximized its use of this. A new capital campaign for another facility will allow KCB to increase what they already do well.” 


The Stern Foundation knows investing in audience development is important for the long-term success of the arts. Michael says that ballet classes are one way to accomplish this. “The people who best appreciate art are those who have had some experience in learning to make art. It is only natural that you are more comfortable in the audience if you feel knowledgeable, if you understand the work and the discipline that went into the creation. Education is key to developing new audiences.” 



You too can be a part of bringing dance to the community! This ensures that everyone in the community has the chance to express themselves through dance. For more information about the project and how to support it, please visit our website. 

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