Band on stage playing in dark venue

The Black Box

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The Black Box

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Heidi Van, a longtime actress and producer, accomplished her dream of owning her very own theater, known as The Black Box, - and it's just that...a BLACK BOX! An ever-changing, fully customizable performance venue in the West Bottoms of Kansas City that caters to artists and the art lovers!


“I thought I knew what I was doing when I moved into this building because it had four walls, electricity and water,” said Van. “I thought I could just move in and do theater in here, but with this particular location being an industrial manufacturing location, I learned a lot about how city planning and development work in regards to where you’re doing business and what you can and can’t do under certain zoning laws.”


Prior to her business venture with The Black Box, she had a tiny 600 sq. ft. storefront theater called ‘The Fish Tank’ in the Crossroads. They’d do performances in the window since it would resemble a glass bowl.  After leaving the tiny theater behind and renting out other venues and different spaces around Kansas City, Van realized that there wasn’t a ‘black box theater.’


“There wasn’t a space that you could easily manipulate, the ability to move the seating around, put the performance in the middle on one side or another. So, I created one. I created a space called the black box because it’s a blank slate, it’s an empty room that can be rearranged however you like due to the performance you’re installing.  It’s a general name, because it’s not just a space for myself to produce, it’s a place for all the theater companies in town to produce.”


It certainly wasn’t easy for her initially to get her business off and running because, like most of the world, COVID-19 nearly shut her down along with everything else. She moved in at the beginning of 2019 and did a lot of work on the space to get it open. She was beginning to book performers and had purchased a 5-year calendar because things were filling up fast.


“Then March of 2020 hits and then it’s no longer safe to congregate inside, and here I have an empty place where people get together, less than 6 feet apart and no one knew what to do,” she said. “So we had to rethink how can we come together. The Black Box has this giant yard in the back, and we ended up building a stage outside. We started hosting movies, bands, solo acts or trios. We painted circles on the cement where people could sit, and that’s how we pivoted into something that was a little bit different than how we started out.  We’ve realized that the outdoor programming is vital to the success of the business. People do want to come together, and they feel safer outside. The fact that we are here every day, and we’re doing it, is overwhelming, and I thank my team that we did it.”


Even though Van never set out to learn about city planning and urban development, she can now share her knowledge with others. “It has certainly made me appreciate my business, even more, knowing what I had to go through to get the doors open. I really committed to it,” she said.


One agency she is thankful for in helping her with her endeavor is Capitol Agency® Insurance. “Capitol Agency Insurance has been super friendly and helpful with The Black Box because it’s not a restaurant, it’s not a bar-- it’s a theater that has a very live and spontaneous component to it,” she said. “It’s not easy to just call any insurance place and find a policy that works for an eclectic business like mine.’”


Van said the Capitol Agency Insurance agents listened to her unique needs, walked her through the process of what they thought she needed and what was required. Since it wasn’t a cut and dry policy, they had to search to find the right one for her. “If someone came at me, I now feel confident knowing I’m a reliable business owner whose covered and safe to welcome people into my space.”

For more information on Capitol Agency Insurance and how they can help your business, visit

Since 1950, Capitol Agency® has helped customers find insurance policies that are perfect for them. Capitol Agency is Capitol Federal’s in-house insurance agency. As an independent agency, Capitol Agency can compare coverage from several carriers to find the policy that best fits your needs.

Capitol Agency Insurance products and service are Not a Deposit, carry No Bank guarantee, are Not FDIC Insured, are Not Insured by Any Government Agency and May Lose Value.

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Categories: CapFed® News , Community and Events , Just For Fun
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