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Rising Stars: Meet Kansas City Electronic Music and Arts Alliance

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kansas City Electronic Music and Arts Alliance. Them and their team share their story with us below:

Kansas City Electronic Music and Arts Alliance started in 2007 with the goal of producing electronic and multimedia performances in the Greater Kansas City area. Over the years, the group has presented traditional style contemporary classical / non-pop concerts, brought in guest performers and composers from around the globe, and championed local Kansas City artists. Over the past five years, we’ve been working to re-imagine what a contemporary music-based non-profit can do. This led to expanding our productions and collaboration. Some big highlights include a partnership with The Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence, KS to produce a soundwalk with site-specific pieces, a week-long residency at Charlotte’s Streets former location, La Esquina, where we performed the classic “I Am Sitting In A Room” by Alvin Lucier to begin the week and finished with a new immersive experience inspired by Lucier, and finally this season creating music videos, featuring local Kansas City video artists, composers, and performers. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
As with any long-running arts non-profit there have been bumps. Finding volunteers is always the most difficult part. We’re a registered non-profit and rely upon volunteers to do the business side and produce concerts. in 2016, there were only a couple members left in KcEMA, down from the in 2011 when it was an active group with maybe a dozen regular participants. It’s hard to produce concerts and handle all the business side when only a couple people are doing everything. 

That and money. Raising the funds to put on shows can be difficult. We always pay performers and composers. We’ve spent a lot of time the last few years focusing on grants and building up donations to ensure we can keep producing new works. 

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
KcEMA is the only full-time electronic and multimedia first arts non-profit in the Greater Kansas City area. In fact, there aren’t a lot of non-profits across the nation that focus on this narrow path. We focus on experimental works, collaborations, and promoting local artist. This sets us apart from other contemporary music groups that in focus on media type, the local focus on not just performers, but on composers and artists, and our willingness to work with all sorts of groups. As artists, it can be hard to find support for producing experimental works or finding all the equipment and expertise to help create a unique work. With an 8.1 mobile surround system, video projection, and a core group with years of experience in A/V production, theater, music, and arts non-profit administration, we are able to really help produce works that may not normally get a chance to be seen or heard. 

How do you think about luck?
There’s always a little luck involved. One collaboration, an event that sparked the founding of No Divide Kansas City, we planned for a couple months. It was going to be a fair-sized fundraiser, with various social non-profits getting tables and a bunch of live performances. Night before and morning of, there was a large snowstorm. We couldn’t even get our cars up the hill to load the audio equipment! We were pushing cases down a slushy hill. The weather was terrible, and it definitely affected turnout. Unfortunately for groups like us, it’s hard to absorb the loss with rescheduling a performance. We persevered, and while the turnout was lower than we hoped, it spawned the start of a new non-profit No Divide Kansas City. 

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