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Downtown campus for the arts

The university is leveraging new and existing assets to position its arts programs in the top 10 nationally.

UMKC has long been at the heart of nurturing culture in Kansas City through its renowned programs in music and dance, theater and visual arts. But now it’s considering a bold move that could take the university literally into the heart of our great city—by building a new Downtown Campus for the Arts in Kansas City. Why now?

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Downtown Kansas City is undergoing an arts renaissance. For evidence, look no farther than the gleaming Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts or the Todd Bolender Center for Dance. Both have helped transform our local arts landscape, energized arts patrons and catapulted our city to national attention.

Local leaders saw the potential when they named a downtown arts campus to the Greater Kansas City Area Chamber of Commerce list of the "Big Five Ideas." A campus close to the emerging cultural district could be mutually beneficial for UMKC and the entire region. Downtown Kansas City would gain added vibrancy with a constant population of 18- to 35-year-olds ready to learn, live and perform there, while UMKC’s heralded arts programs would gain great opportunities to offer much-needed improvements to its facilities.

Donors already have pledged $48 million for the project, led by a $20 million gift from Julia Irene Kauffman on behalf of the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation. The University of Missouri Board of Curators and System officials are developing plans for an alternative funding match for the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Downtown Campus for the Arts (Conservatory) rather than seek funding from the state under the 50-50 matching program for capital projects.