Editor's Note: this year in review was written for our January deadline, which was December 10th.
2012 will certainly be remembered as the year of shakeups. Hurricane Sandy tore through the Eastern Seaboard in late October, causing billions in damage. The mass shooting in Aurora, Colo. was the worst seen since the Columbine massacre. After 244 years in publication, the publishers of Encyclopedia Britannica announced they would no longer produce new print editions. The presidential election resulted in President Barack Obama winning reelection against the Republican challenger Gov. Mitt Romney. The London Olympics featured women's boxing for the first time as an Olympic event, while swimmer Michael Phelps ended his career with four gold and two silver medals.
The Kansas City arts scene saw quite a few changes as well. Sarah Skaggs was hired on as the executive director of the Missouri Citizens for the Arts. The KC Fringe Festival secured a new office space and another venue. In addition, Brent Kimmi was hired on as its new development director. The Lyric Opera hired Deborah Sandler on as the new general director, replacing former director Evan Luskin. William Whitener, artistic director for the Kansas City Ballet since 1996, decided not to renew his employment contract for the 2013-2014 season.
The 2012-2013 season marks Mark Swezey's last as resident director of the White Theatre at The Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, although he will still direct at the theatre in the future.
The past year saw the death of several celebrities, including Ernest Borgnine, Whitney Houston, Larry Hagman, Andy Griffith, and Dick Clark. The musical Once, based on the 2006 musical film, won eight Tony awards, including best musical and best direction of a musical. Meanwhile, The Artist managed to win best picture and four other awards at the Oscars.
The past year can also be remembered as a time of celebration, anniversaries, and achievements. Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, the 60th anniversary of her reign in February. NASA successfully landed the rover Curiosity on the surface of Mars, allowing us to view incredible pictures of the red planet. Felix Baumgartner became the first person to break the sound barrier without machine aid when he skydived from 24 miles above the Earth's surface.
Likewise, Kansas City had its share of achievements and anniversaries. The Gladstone Theatre in the Park celebrated its 25th anniversary with performances of Hello, Dolly! and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The American Heartland Theatre also celebrated 25 years in Kansas City by performing the world premiers of Beer for Breakfast and As Long as We Both Shall Live by playwright Sean Grennan. The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival marked their 20th anniversary as well.
Funding for arts programs took a turn for the better in 2012. The Missouri House budget committee, along with Gov. Jay Nixon, voted to increase the Missouri Arts Council's budget by $1.2 million. In addition, the committee made a recommended increase of $100,000 to historic preservation, library networking fund, Missouri Humanities Council, and public broadcasting. The Arts Council of Metropolitan Greater Kansas City continued their support of the arts by awarding grants to individual artists, arts programs and projects, and not-for-profit arts organizations.
Although no one can say what 2013 holds in store for Kansas City performing arts, you can be sure KC Stage will be there to cover it.
Jon Parton, a Kansas City native, is a local writer and journalist.