The University of Missouri-Kansas City on Friday moved another step closer on its proposed downtown campus for the arts, and city and civic leaders hailed the milestone.
University of Missouri curators voted to request state funds to match $48 million in private money raised by UMKC to build its campus for the Arts/Conservatory of Music and Dance. It would be built just south of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
The curators’ decision culminates about three years of fundraising by UMKC to come up with half the money for its portion of the $96 million project. Funding was kicked off with a $20 million gift from the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation.
This week, the university announced it had secured its portion of the matching dollars.
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The University of Missouri System will submit an application for the matching funds to the state. In Missouri, public colleges are eligible for a dollar-for-dollar matching program for public-private partnerships.
“The state has to agree and then appropriate the funding,” said John Fougere, spokesman for the university system.
UMKC officials said the first phase of the downtown campus will replace a collection of outdated and spread-out facilities on the Volker campus with state-of-the-art practice and classroom space directly across from the Kauffman Center.
UMKC had no comment about Friday’s board action but said it would hold a celebration for the project at a later date.
The project has been one of the “Big Five” civic priorities established by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.
“This is great news, and we are looking forward to the community hearing the full details when the university makes its announcement,” said Joe Reardon, president and chief executive of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.
Greg Graves, a civic leader and chairman and chief executive of the Burns & McDonnell engineering firm, also applauded the fundraising effort.
“The Big Five initiatives are not just dreams, they are goals that we all are committed to reaching,” Graves said. “UMKC has made incredible strides in this campaign, and a match from the state would result in creating an arts system that will help take Kansas City from being a great city to a world-class city.”
In March, UMKC announced that it was just $10 million shy of reaching its goal.
UMKC said then that it was committed to reaching its $48 million goal through private donations by June 30, the deadline for making application to the state.
University officials have said that relocating the UMKC Conservatory and its 750 students, faculty and staff downtown would infuse the area with a new level of activity and put students in the center of the Kansas City arts community.
“UMKC has exhibited great vision and leadership in bringing this project to life,” Mayor Sly James said. “And I’m excited for students to have an opportunity to learn and train in such an exciting atmosphere.”