Wednesday, June 26, 2013

UMKC Conservatory downtown arts campus gets $20 million boost from Julia Irene Kauffman

Posted By on Wed, Jun 26, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Mayor Sly James says a downtown arts campus is not a pie-in-the-sky endeavor.
  • Mayor Sly James says a downtown arts campus is not a "pie-in-the-sky endeavor."

The long-sought downtown arts campus for the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance took a major jeté toward coming a reality today. At a press conference on stage at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts this afternoon, Julia Irene Kauffman announced that the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation is giving the conservatory a $20 million grant to build the campus.

"In summary this project will bring excitement and economical development downtown and to other arts organizations located downtown," she said. "It inspires the conservatory to new heights while relieving congestion on the Rockhill campus."

The grant is predicated on the conservatory finding an additional $70 million for the project in three years. Mayor Sly said he was confident that university donor would chip in to make the downtown campus a reality.

"This is not a pie-in-the-sky endeavor," he said. "We all have a stake in this. James added that the arts campus was the missing piece to the Kauffman Center for The Performing Arts.

"I have no doubt that when the center moves down here, we'll have not only the best performing arts center, but the best performing arts city," he said.

Karen Kushner, an associate professor of piano at the conservatory, said it's time for the conservatory to move into a more visible place where students and professional performing artists can collaborate.

"I went to Juilliard and I think the synergy between Juilliard and Lincoln Center that surrounds it is fantastic. And I think that we actually can have something very similar with this," Kushner said.

The conservatory didn't reveal a site or a rendering of what the art campus would like Wednesday. Last year, the school was looking at three potential locations that included a site of two blocks between Wyandotte and Main streets north of 17th Street (and very close to the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts), Barney Allis Plaza, and a three-block strip near Broadway and 17th Street.

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