WF commits $1 million to activate Wichita Foundation Amphitheater at Exploration place

March 27, 2024 | Stories

As community builders, the Wichita Foundation (WF) isn’t afraid to test limits and embrace tough conversations, much like the spirit of scientific progress. When Exploration Place revealed plans for a riverfront amphitheater, the Foundation seized the opportunity to partner in this cultural hub for the city. 

In February, WF committed $1 million for the mixed-use space, called the Wichita Foundation Amphitheater. The 1,500-capacity amphitheater is the first phase of a broader masterplan at Exploration Place's 20-acre riverfront property

"The Wichita Foundation Board has a strong desire to spark change in our community and the Wichita Foundation Amphitheater will infuse our city’s riverfront with vibrancy," said WF Board Chair Debbie Gann. "This contribution will build momentum for future development along the Riverfront and provide access to the rich cultural scene that defines our city." 

WF staff and board had to get creative to make this gift happen. Made possible by a social impact loan from a financial tool previously extended to nonprofit partners, such as Music Theatre Wichita and Empower, $1 million was borrowed from the Foundation’s pooled assets. The loan will be paid back via the Fund for Wichita over eight years with a 5% interest rate. 

The Wichita Foundation Amphitheater broke ground on March 6 and is scheduled to open this fall. This accessible space will showcase the nightly Ring of Fire show at the Keeper of the Plains and will be used for live performances, movie nights and other community events. 

“The Wichita Foundation Amphitheater will foster community spirit and convening; it is destined to enhance the quality of life for Wichitans and visitors from across the country,” said WF President and CEO Shelly Prichard. “We are thrilled to spur impact of this bold space and know the amphitheater will be a jewel within our city.” 

Debbie Gann, WF board chair (left) and Shelly Prichard, WF president and CEO (middle) participate in the Wichita Foundation Amphitheater groundbreaking
Adam Smith, president of Exploration Place, and Shelly Prichard, president and CEO of the Wichita Foundation

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