Downtown Arts Campus Crosses $30 Million Threshold

UMKC Foundation announces eight new gifts

The University of Missouri-Kansas City Foundation is pleased to announce an additional $5.6 million in gifts to support the Conservatory of Music and Dance and its future home, a planned Downtown Campus for the Arts.

Among the new gifts:

  • $3 million from an anonymous donor for endowed scholarships
  • $1 million from the Sunderland Foundation
  • $500,000 from the Kirk Family
  • $400,000 from Burns & McDonnell
  • $250,000 from JE Dunn
  • $250,000 from Tom and Jean McDonnell
  • $100,000 from Greg and Deanna Graves
  • $100,000 from Charles and Mary Kay Horner

The new gifts bring to more than $30 million the amount raised toward the downtown project, including a $20 million challenge gift from the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation. The university needs to raise a total of $48 million in private funds in order to approach the state of Missouri for matching funds to cover the $96 million cost of the project’s first phase.

Phase 1 of the Downtown Arts Campus will house the Conservatory, replacing a collection of outdated and spread-out facilities on the Volker campus with state-of-the-art practice and classroom space in close proximity to Kansas City’s booming professional arts scene.

In May, a group of anonymous donors pledged prime downtown real estate for the project. The 80,000-square-foot tract, which covers a full city block bounded by Broadway, Central, 17th and 18th streets, is located directly south of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

The juxtaposition of the Conservatory and the Kauffman center will put UMKC’s renowned program in line with other great centers of arts education, including Julliard, which is located near Lincoln Center in New York, and the New England Conservatory, which is located near Jordan Hall in Boston.

Relocating the Conservatory’s 600 students downtown also has the advantage of infusing downtown with a new level of activity and vibrancy. And it will open much needed space on the landlocked Volker campus for other academic disciplines.

“This project has some real momentum. Across the community, people are realizing the potential the Downtown Campus has to stimulate both the arts, and economic development,” said Chancellor Leo E. Morton. “With these additional generous gifts, we have every reason to believe that a Downtown Arts Campus will become a reality. This is the year we make our longtime dream a reality. I am truly grateful for the support UMKC continues to receive, and elated about what this will mean to our talented students.”

A downtown campus has been a dream for UMKC for many years. But the university got serious about looking into it in 2011 when the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce named the project one of its “Big 5” ideas.

An economic impact study by the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) estimated that the economic activity associated with the construction of the arts campus and reuse of the Volker campus would average, at minimum, approximately 409 jobs, $30.8 million in real GDP, and $22.9 million in real disposable personal income per year over 25 years. Of these impacts, a little more than half result from the construction itself, with the rest generated by the expansion of arts and other educational programs at UMKC.

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