Gifts to Downtown Arts Campus put UMKC closer to fundraising goal

Recent gifts include $1.5 million from the David Beals Charitable Trust, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee and two $1 million gifts from anonymous donors


Nov. 4, 2015

The University of Missouri-Kansas City Foundation is pleased to announce more progress in its ongoing quest to raise $48 million to support a planned Downtown Campus for the Arts, which will house UMKC’s Conservatory of Music and Dance.

Thanks to a recent $1.5 million gift from the David Beals Charitable Trust, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee, and two other recent $1 million gifts from anonymous donors, the university is only $14 million away from its goal.

“The dream of having a downtown campus for our incredible Conservatory is one that I’ve long believed in,” said UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton. “It is extremely gratifying to know just how close we are to reaching the fundraising goal that can make that campus a reality. We are grateful to the David Beals Charitable Trust and the other generous donors who have given so much to help us get this far. I am more confident than ever that our dream will come true.”

The David Beals Charitable Trust was established in 1982 “for the furtherance and development of such charitable purposes determined to be in the public interest.” David Beals, a lifelong resident of Kansas City, was a prominent patron of the arts. His estate distributed the remainder of his trust 10 years after the death of his wife, Jeanne McCray Beals. David Beals was recognized for his philanthropic investments and his association with and leadership of numerous nonprofit organizations.

Peter Witte, dean of the Conservatory, expressed thanks to the David Beals Charitable Trust and other donors to the project.

“A downtown campus for the Conservatory places current and future students in the heart of a championship city. Their presence will catalyze Kansas City’s reputation as a 21st century arts hub,” Witte said. “We are truly grateful for the support of our community for this project. Thanks to the David Beals Charitable Trust and other donors, we are confident UMKC’s Downtown Arts Campus will move forward.”

The university needs to raise a total of $48 million in private funds by June 30, 2016, 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 Phase 1 will house the Conservatory, replacing a collection of outdated and spread-out facilities on the Volker campus with state-of-the-art practice and classroom space in close proximity to Kansas City’s booming professional arts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.

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.

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. Last year, a group of anonymous donors pledged prime downtown real estate for the project — a full city block bounded by Broadway, Central, 17th and 18th streets.

The site is directly south of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, a juxtaposition that will put UMKC’s program in line with other great centers of arts education, including Juilliard, 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.

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.

The UMKC Foundation, launched in 2009, is an independent, nonprofit organization that serves as the official fundraising and fund management organization for UMKC.