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Best Big Thinker 

Peter Witte, Dean of UMKC's Conservatory of Music and Dance

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Peter Witte knows how to blow hot air — through a French horn. The musician and conductor, named dean of the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2008, has lately channeled his impressive wit and charisma into a visionary idea. He wants to move the conservatory and other UMKC arts programs to a downtown "Campus for the Arts," adjacent to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The two-decade, $200 million project would start bringing hundreds of students downtown over the next few years while driving downtown development, housing, arts and culture (and lowering the median age of urban-core dwellers). An arts-minded person who gets stuff built because of his ideas, not because of his money? Sounds good to us.

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