Students performing during Blue Star Awards

A Conversation with Capital Campaign Co-Chairs, Brett and Nikki Emison

Nikki and Brett Emison at the 2023 Starlight Annual Gala

Starlight just announced its Uniquely KC Capital Campaign, and we had a moment to sit down with Co-Chairs Brett and Nikki Emison to discuss why they support Starlight.  

  1. What does Starlight (and/or the arts in general) mean to you and/or your family? 

Brett Emison: The arts have always been important to our family. Nikki and I grew up with arts experiences in school, and our kids have both had the opportunity to be part of arts organizations and perform on stage. It’s so important to develop those skills of teamwork, camaraderie, and confidence, on and off the stage. We’re so proud of the way Starlight reaches out to the community to provide those kinds of experiences. 

Nikki Emison: Starlight, to me, means community because it is for everyone. It is a fun opportunity for people to come together, connect, and make memories. Your visit may be a family night, a date night, a friend’s night out, or a personal tradition to enjoy a live concert or Broadway show. I feel Starlight is a very welcoming venue; you can come as you are and enjoy this historic venue in the heart of Kansas City. 

  1. What about Starlight’s capital campaign are you most excited about, and why? 

BE: What I’m most excited about is the expanding programs that allow Starlight to get out into the city. Starlight already does so much that goes unnoticed. But being able to expand arts education for underserved kids throughout our community is going to make a huge difference in thousands of lives and introduce hundreds and thousands of kids to theatre and the arts. It’s also going to allow Starlight to expand training so that young people can see the arts as a career. You don’t just have to be a performer on the stage. There are so many career paths behind the scenes that aren’t currently being served in our community, and we’re going to be able to provide that to everyone in Kansas City.  

NE: All the projects are so important, but the program that I am most excited about is the musical theater program for elementary schools. I get goosebumps thinking about it. When you’re young, you try so many new things, like baseball, piano, dance, or soccer, to try to find your passion. Too many kids never have the opportunity to try out the arts; therefore, they may never learn if they love them. This new community engagement program will provide an opportunity for kids to experience the arts firsthand. I am so excited to see what sparks will be ignited, the confidence that will be boosted, and a gym full of cheering loved ones making the students feel pride. It’s going to make a big difference in our community and in the lives of these elementary students. 

We want to make sure that this iconic venue is thriving and providing arts access to everyone in Kansas City for decades to come.

Brett Emison Uniquely KC Campaign Co-Chair

  1. Why are you championing this effort at Starlight and why should others get involved? 

BE: I’ve been coming to Starlight for almost 40 years now. My parents took me when I was a kid. One of the first gifts I gave Nikki when we first started dating was a season ticket package to Starlight. Now, we attend with our kids and our parents. Three generations of our family are sitting in our row.  

I think to myself, how will I feel if our kids aren’t able to continue this tradition? How do I feel knowing there are families in Kansas City who aren’t able to do this at all? So, Nikki and I got involved because not only is Starlight incredibly important to our family, but it’s even more important to Kansas City. We want to make sure that this iconic venue is thriving and providing arts access to everyone in Kansas City for decades to come. 

NE: I am championing the efforts at Starlight because the arts matter. They bring us together, and they make our community stronger. The arts help teach us empathy, self-expression and can be an outlet for emotions. Starlight’s impact in our community goes beyond being a live arts venue through its many community engagement programs. These programs are increasing access to the arts and educational opportunities for all ages. I can tell you that seeing firsthand the impact these programs have on participants will make you smile, fill your heart with joy, and inspire you to get involved to make a difference. We are so lucky to have this historic landmark here in Kansas City that we can all enjoy. I hope others will join in these efforts to ensure that Starlight is here for our community and for all future generations. 

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