Tuesday, March 9, 2021
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Conservatory Students Worry about Move to Downtown Arts Campus

As UMKC moves forward on the downtown performing arts campus, the students the campus would benefit voice their concerns.

The campus site would cover an 800,000 square foot full city block directly south of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Chancellor Leo E. Morton believes this would be the dream site, he told KMBC News, and would offer everything the school hopes for the students.

But some music students are concerned.

Music students will have to assess where they live. Being closer to the arts campus would make more sense. School recitals will now be in concert halls downtown. Students will need to travel to practice rooms.

John Kelly, a music education major is worried about the meal plans for freshmen and commuting students.

“Right now our only cafeteria is on Volker Campus, and for students who have a meal plan, where are they going to eat?” Kelly said.

While students are apprehensive about the commute and living arrangements, it was universally agreed upon that the facilities the conservatory has are not adequate. Students do not have enough practice rooms or spaces to rehearse.

“One of the reasons we need a new facility is that we don’t have the right amount of space, or the right kinds of space for what we do here,” said Jane Carl, professor of clarinet/chair of instrumental studies. “Our rehearsal rooms are not adequate in terms of sound protection. I mean it’s too loud in there and harmful on our students’ ears.”

Dean of the Conservatory, Peter Witte, could not be reached to respond to these comments.

While some voice their concerns with the campus, many stand behind the move, including Mayor Sly James.

James commented on the new campus to KMBC News, saying that Kansas City’s arts and entrepreneurship with come together in the heart of the urban core.

Jane Chu, CEO of the Kauffman Center, said to KMBC that the move would make UMKC similar to Juilliard School and Lincoln Center in New York City.

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