April 23, 2021

Black Dancers in American Ballet in KC

Meet the Moderator

Allan S. Gray II has been a patron and arts advocate for nearly 40 years. During this time, he has held numerous professional and civic positions that have afforded him a wealth of experiences on local, regional, state, and national stages.

As Founder/Chairman Emeritus of the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, Mr. Gray established one of the most artistically, diverse and socially impactful organizations in the nation. KCFAA has brought dance to over 1 million area residents who have participated in its nationally acclaimed arts education programs and performances His organization is the Official Second Home of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the origin of the nationally replicated and award-winning Ailey Camp. Ailey Camp, a program for disadvantage youth that began in Kansas City and is now replicated in 11 cities around the country.

Upon Mr. Ailey’s passing, he bequeath to Mr. Gray the Alvin Ailey Archives, a priceless collection of Alvin Ailey’s personal papers, photographs, letters, memorabilia and artifacts. In addition, Mr. Gray has served on the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Foundation board in New York.

Mr. Gray is currently involved in two major film projects on the life of Alvin Ailey. The first, a documentary entitled, “AILEY”, received critical acclaim at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival as part of the PBS American Masters Series. The second, a major motion picture biopic produced by Alicia Keys and Fox Searchlight. The film is being directed by Academy Award winner Barry Jenkins.

Mr. Gray remains actively involved in shaping the Greater Kansas City area landscape with his latest project, the Zhou Brothers Art Center, is a repurposing of the former Attucks Elementary School. He serves as a development partner. The planned 65,000 square foot art center will become a haven for local, national and international artists, providing artist studios, galleries, exhibition space, new Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey dance studios and administrative offices, café, 30,000 sq ft of event space, recording studio, performance theater and retail opportunities in the Historic 18th & Vine Jazz District.

As former Mayor Pro Tem for the City of Lee’s Summit, Mr. Gray initiated support for the arts by creating the city’s first cultural plan. He also led a highly successful Municipal Bond campaign that provided $3 million in funding that created a building for the Lee’s Summit History Museum, the Legacy Park Amphitheater and an outdoor performance space.

Mr. Gray currently serves as a board member for the UMKC Conservatory, Black Archives of Mid-America, Edgar Snow Foundation, St. Louis Black Reparatory Theater, Heart of American Shakespeare Festival, Advisor to the First Congregational Church of Atlanta Development Project, Lee’s Summit Diversity and Inclusion Commission and the Martha Lee Cain Tranby Enrichment

Fund committee. He has also served as Chair of the Missouri Arts Council, Chair of the ARTS KC Regional Arts Council and Treasurer of the Bi-State Cultural Amenities Tax Board.

Mr. Gray has served on and provided leadership to a wide variety of arts and cultural boards, initiatives and committees that have left an indelible mark on the arts including board member for Kansas City Ballet, Kansas City Symphony and UMKC Conservatory:

Bank of American Local Hero Award
Missouri Arts Council Award
Trudy Award – Kansas City Young Audiences
Arts Advocate Award – ARTSKC
Humanitarian of the Year – City of Lee’s Summit

Meet the Panelists