Sunday, May 22, 2022
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Students hope for more space, better facilities in new conservatory building

Some UMKC Conservatory students are celebrating after Chancellor Mauli Agrawal announced the new conservatory will remain on campus. Others are hesitant to express excitement, due to the university’s past attempts at securing a location and funding for a new building.

“Since this promise has been given to us so many times and taken away, nobody believes it’s actually going to happen,” said UMKC sophomore Laura Karanevich.

Karanevich and other conservatory students first heard of plans for the new conservatory this January, prior to Agrawal’s announcement that it will remain on campus. Students quickly began discussing the possibility of a new building and what improvements they would like to see.

“We’re still all very hopeful, because we don’t have enough studio space to do everything we want to do right now,” said Karanevich.

Dancers only have three studios to practice in, which are all often taken up for rehearsals. Because of this, students who need space to choreograph and complete composition assignments often use hallways and spare rooms instead.

Dance majors aren’t the only ones hoping for an improved space. Senior Taylor Neill hopes that the new conservatory will also improve conditions for her department.

“As long as I’ve been here, theater students have been tossed to spare rooms and odd corners of buildings,” said Neill. “I’m hoping that having a new facility would really revive some faith in the conservatory in general.”

The concern for more space might be addressed in the university’s proposed new building,  which is estimated to be as large as 250,000 square feet.

According to a statement released by the chancellor last month, the conservatory will be built on the school’s main campus, adjacent to the Olsen Performing Arts Center.

This decision comes as a disappointment to some students who were hoping for a downtown location. Others, like freshmen Louisa Pierce, say staying on-campus is the more practical choice.

“The placement is pretty good. It’s by the dorms, at least for freshmen. It’s near the dining hall, which is nice, so being on campus is pretty ideal,” said Pierce.

The date of groundbreaking and the developer for construction have yet to be announced as UMKC waits for approval from its accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission.

While freshmen at the conservatory have a lot to look forward to in the future, seniors like Neill realize they will be long graduated by the time the new building is open.

“Having a space that I could be proud of as a UMKC student would have been really valuable to me had it been like this when I got here,” said Neill. “But it does excite me for the future of UMKC students.”

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