General Assembly Advances Downtown Campus

Decision on state funds for $96 million project now goes to the governor

The Missouri Senate approved a bond funding measure April 27 that would provide funds to create the Downtown Campus for the Arts for the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

The Senate vote follows approval in March by the Missouri House of Representatives for the funding measure. The legislation must now be signed by Gov. Eric Greitens in order to become law and launch construction of the long-awaited project.

The legislation provides $48 million in public funds that will be paired with an equal amount raised from private donors to build the $96 million project. The Downtown campus project will be a new home for the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, replacing a collection of outdated and spread-out facilities on the Volker campus with state-of-the-art practice and classroom space directly across from the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, and in the midst of Kansas City’s booming professional arts scene. The project is one of the “Big Five” top civic priorities established by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.

The project has garnered broad-based support from the Kansas City community, beginning in 2013 with a $20 million challenge gift from the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation.

“We are extremely grateful to the members of the House and Senate for their support for this project, which is so vital to the artistic and economic development interests of Kansas City and the State of Missouri,” said UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton. “We are hopeful that Gov. Greitens will also recognize the immense statewide value of the UMKC conservatory and the importance of keeping it in the first tier of performing arts institutions in the U.S.”

The measure passed by a wide margin in both houses of the General Assembly — 117-39 in the House, and 28-4 in the Senate.

“From the beginning, this has been as much a Kansas City project as it is a UMKC project. So many people in our community played vital roles in bringing us to this point,” Morton said. “It began with our donors, led by the incredibly gracious challenge grant made by Julia Irene Kauffman and the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation. Many additional generous donors followed her lead. The support of the Kansas City civic community was invaluable, starting with the Greater Kansas City Chamber making the Downtown Campus part of the Big 5. The artistic community made their voices heard, and the University of Missouri System’s support was vital.

“This is yet another demonstration of that great Kansas City Spirit, that same can-do never-say-die attitude that makes this community special and unique,” Morton said.

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