Theatrical performances are offered throughout the state, mostly during the summer. In Kansas City, productions of Broadway musicals and light opera are staged at the Starlight Theater, which seats 7,860 in an open-air setting. The Missouri Repertory Theater, on the University of Missouri campus in Kansas City, also has a summer season. In St. Louis, the 12,000-seat Municipal Opera puts on outdoor musicals, while the Goldenrod, built in 1909 and said to be the largest showboat ever constructed (seating capacity 289), is used today for vaudeville, melodrama, and ragtime shows. Other notable playhouses are the 8,000-seat Riverfront Amphitheater in Hannibal, and the 344-seat Lyceum Theater in Arrow Rock (population 89).
Leading orchestras are the St. Louis Symphony and Kansas City Symphony; Independence, Liberty, Columbia, Kirksville, St. Joseph, and Springfield also have orchestras. The Opera Theatre of St. Louis and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City are distinguished musical organizations. Springfield has a regional opera company.
Between World Wars I and II, Kansas City was the home of a thriving jazz community that included Charlie Parker and Lester Young; leading bandleaders of that time were Benny Moten, Walter Page, and, later, Count Basie. Country music predominates in rural Missouri in places like the Ozark Opry at Osage Beach. There are over 40 performing venues in Branson, where over 5.8 million visitors take in performances annually.
In 2003, Missouri arts organizations received grants totaling $2,303,700 from the National Endowment for the Arts. There are about 350 arts associations and over 50 local associations in Missouri. The state provides arts education in all of the approximately 550 public school districts. In 1994, the Missouri General Assembly established the Missouri Cultural Trust, a state endowment for the arts, with the goal of building it into a $200 million operational endowment in 10 years. The Trust is one of only a few such trusts in the nation, and the only one that receives dedicated annual tax revenues.
The Missouri Humanities Council sponsors an annual weeklong summer history festival on various themes. The festival is generally in a different community each year. In 2000, the National Endowment for the Humanities contributed $1,020,678 for 24 state programs.