The Best of the Best: Kansas City Arts & Culture

Expand your horizons and let your inner artist soar with cutting edge exhibits and classics that never disappoint.

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Best Place to See a Movie That’s Not a Blockbuster


Tivoli Ever wonder how you can see those obscure films that are nominated for Oscars? The short answer is the Tivoli. This beloved Westport theater that many in Kansas City call a cultural institution, shows critically acclaimed films and documentaries that can make your heart sing and make you an expert during awards season.

Best Local Band


Hembree Hembree is about to make it big, really big and these guys deserve it. Their indie rock sound is fresh with just the right amount of throwback. Last year, they opened for Elvis Costello when he played in Kansas City and their single “Holy Water” has had more than a million Spotify streams. The band’s frontman Isaac Flynn is a KC native described by almost anyone you talk to as “the nicest guy ever” (How Kansas City is that?)

Best Gala


Crescendo It’s a gala that doesn’t have speeches, testimonials, videos nor does it involve anyone reading a list of thank yous. Six years ago, Crescendo turned the traditional gala on its ear by reimagining what an event that raises money for scholarships for the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance students should be, and the answer was: All about the performances. Held at the Kauffman Center, the event starts with an hourlong concert featuring students from every artistic discipline in the Conservatory and finishes with dinner in the Brandmeyer Great Hall. It’s an evening of WOW from start to finish.


Crescendo Dancers

Crescendo, photo courtesy crescendo

Best Symphony Outing


Handel’s Messiah Warning: goose-bump alert. Seeing the Kansas City Symphony team up with a choir to bring Handel’s Messiah to life is guaranteed to give you “all the feels.” Add in the acoustical majesty of Helzberg Hall and layer on the “Hallelujah Chorus” and you’re ready to either weep, swoon or jump to your feet for a standing ovation.

Best Celebrity Studded Party


Big Slick  It’s probably the best chance anyone in the metro will ever have to rubberneck and rub shoulders with movie stars, musicians and TV heavyweights. Billed as a “celebrity weekend,” this event features a cast of Hollywood big shots and is hosted by famous home boys Rob Riggle, Paul Rudd, Jason Sudeikis, Eric Stonestreet and David Koechner. Since its inception, Big Slick has raised millions of dollars for Children’s Mercy Hospital.