Lied Center ‘pops-up’ to brings the arts to Lawrence
We’re highlighting Jayhawks who serve as mentors to fellow alumni and students to celebrate National Mentoring Month.

Every business has been forced to adapt to new realities from the COVID-19 pandemic, but the public events industry has been hit harder than most. With a regular business model untenable, Lawrence’s performing arts center had to adapt quickly.


The Lied Center of Kansas serves as KU and Lawrence’s flagship performing arts venue, hosting events year-round for students and city residents, including musicians, theatre, graduations and other community events. 


With normal events unsafe, Derek Kwan, Executive Director of the Lied Center, and his team brainstormed ideas to connect with Jayhawks safely.


“We determined it was essential for the Lied Center to still serve the entire community and leverage the performing arts as a uniting force, especially after months of physical distancing,” said Kwan. “We decided that pop-up performances would be the best way to offer in-person entertainment in a safe and physically distanced manner.”

These ‘Pop-up performances’ invited the Lawrence community this fall to attend shows outdoors with full precautions, including masks, physical distancing and limited attendance to comply with County and University guidelines.


“We were able to stage 14 pop-up performances featuring artists including Vanessa Thomas, Ashley Davis, Quixotic and Willie The Wizard,” said Kwan. “Locations ranged from residential driveways to parking lots at The Ballard Center (pre-schoolers) and Brandon Woods Retirement Community.”


“Artists were chosen based upon existing relationships. Locations were determined in a more organic fashion, but all were connected to the Lied Center in some way, as patrons, supporters or sponsors.”


The response was overwhelmingly positive, especially from the residents at a local retirement community. One attendee’s response shared on a digital survey:


“I could not let this week end without saying THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for bringing Quixotic to Brandon Woods. Our residents are still talking about it. I hear the word ‘joyous’ come up often. One resident told me, the performance was so beautiful it made her cry.”


As the calendar turns to December, plans for next semester at the Lied Center are already in place.


“While we are hopeful the public health situation will improve dramatically, we are prepared to present another round of Lied Loves Lawrence Pop-Up Performances when the weather turns warmer if we are in the same situation,” said Kwan. “You can also count on continued virtual performances and events. We will definitely continue to serve the community through the power of the performing arts.”

Need a mentor? Want to serve as a mentor? KU Mentoring+ is open to students, alumni, faculty and staff, and friends of the University of Kansas. Professionals who are looking for opportunities to connect with KU and provide assistance to Jayhawks are also welcome. Learn more about KU Mentoring+.

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