Moving UMKC's World-Class Arts Programs to A New Downtown Location

A strong region requires a solid center, and creating a UMKC Downtown Campus for the Arts promises to enhance the vibrancy of the area, increase innovation, and add more creative spark to the region. 
Champion:  Barbara Bichelmeyer


July, 2016

UMKC’s Downtown Arts Campus gets powerful political ally

June, 2016

UMKC to seek state funding for Downtown Arts Campus
Overview – UMKC’s Downtown Arts Campus (with updates)


May, 2016

Frequently asked questions – UMKC’s Downtown Arts Campus

May 13, 2014

Backers have secured property next to the Kauffman Center as part of a drive to move the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance to downtown, The Kansas City Star reports.

October 8, 2013 update

Progress to date:
The Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation pledged $20 million toward the creation of a Downtown Campus for the Arts for the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Julia Irene Kauffman, Chairman and CEO of the Foundation, announced the leadership gift in a buzz-worthy public ceremony to an audience seated ON the stage of her mother’s namesake theater in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton, Kansas City Mayor Sly James, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Chairman Russ Welsh and UMKC Conservatory Dean Peter Witte stood by her side.  Read More >>

June 26, 2013 update

The Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation has pledged $20 million toward the creation of a Downtown Campus for the Arts for the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
The $20 million challenge grant was approved at the recent meeting of the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation Board of Directors and represents a leadership gift toward funding of the first phase of the proposed Downtown Campus for the Arts.  That phase of the expansive multi-decade plan involves moving the university’s renowned Conservatory of Music and Dance to a location in the Crossroads District. Subsequent phases would move other university-based arts programs to the site.  Read More >>

March 29, 2013 update

Progress to date:
UMKC has further refined the recommendations from a site feasibility study.

The initial report looked at more than a dozen potential sites and their costs. In the months since the report was issued, the site feasibility has narrowed to two locations adjacent to the Kauffman Performing Arts Center.  Read More >>

February 5, 2013 update


January 28, 2013

Chancellor Leo Morton said a proposed location for the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s downtown conservatory has been ruled out, leaving two main candidates.


September 12, 2012 update

Progress to date:
UMKC released the results of three studies looking at various aspects of the potential move.

Program Planning Study – looking at potential sites and costs.

Three sites for a new arts campus were identified – two adjacent to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, the third at Barney Allis Plaza.

The study recommends a phased move of the visual and performing arts schools over a 20+ year time period.

Estimated costs for a new campus range from $152 to $272 million.

Campus Impact Study – reviewing the possible impacts of the move of these programs on the university and its component parts.

This study found a downtown arts campus “supports UMKC’s mission and strategic goals, and addresses the 2005 “Time to Get It Right” report goal to ‘enhance UMKC’s stature as one of the top 20 universities in the arts.’”

Moving arts programs downtown will also free-up significant space on the land-locked UMKC Volker campus, space “which can be re-imagined to address the university’s critical need for expansion.”

Economic Impact Study – estimating the economic activity associated with construction of the arts campus and reuse of the Volker campus.

The Mid-America Regional Council reports economic impact would average, at minimum, approximately 409 jobs, $30.8 million in real GDP, and $22.9 million in real disposable personal income over 25 years.
Next steps:
Meeting with potential donors.
Continue planning and discussion regarding Phase 1 – moving the Conservatory to the new downtown location.


July 3, 2012 update

UMKC releases downtown arts campus studies

Long-term phased approach recommended; three potential sites identified - A Downtown Campus for the Arts for the University of Missouri-Kansas City would improve educational opportunities for students in all fields, boost economic development for the region, enhance Kansas City's ongoing arts renaissance and inject millions of dollars into the local economy over the next 25 years.


June 11, 2012 update

  • Results of three studies looking at the feasibility, potential locations, and impact on the Volker campus are nearly complete.
  • Private fundraising efforts are underway.

April 23, 2012 update

Since this Big 5 idea was announced in September 2011, it has evolved into a UMKC Downtown Campus for the Arts concept that would house the Conservatory of Music and Dance and other arts programs, including possibly the UMKC Theatre Department, the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Arts and Art History department, KCUR public radio station and others. For additional information, see:
Progress to date:
Three studies exploring the viability of a Downtown Campus for the Arts are nearly complete.

A feasibility study by Helix Architecture + Design, Integra Realty Resources and HGA Architects and Engineers examined preliminary program and cost estimates for the project, looked at potential downtown properties, developed site and concept plans and gathered feedback from UMKC and the community. The report is in final stages of being written.

The Mid-America Regional Council will complete in April an economic impact study that will investigate how a UMKC arts campus could add economic value to the Kansas City metro area.

A third study, to be completed in late April or early May, analyzes how a downtown arts campus would affect academic, campus and social life at Kansas City’s downtown/Crossroads areas and UMKC’s Volker and Hospital Hill campuses.
Next steps:
With completed studies in hand, UMKC leaders will convene a series of meetings with campus and community groups and individuals to share results and plan next steps.

Discuss potential funding for project.