Downtown arts campus gets infusion of cash: Project is closer to private funding goal

Mal Hartigan

UMKC officially announced an additional $5.6 million in donated gifts to help fund the new Downtown Campus for the Arts project on Friday, Oct. 3, which now places the cumulative private fundraising total above $30 million. The first phase of the Downtown Campus for the Arts project includes construction for the new home of the University’s Conservatory of Music and Dance, which will offer brand new practice facilities and classroom spaces close to the Conservatory’s current home on the Volker Campus.
The University now strives to reach $48 million in private funds in order to receive matching funds from the state of Missouri to aid in the first phase of project completion, which is estimated at $96 million. The additional donations, which include a $3 million donation from an anonymous source, are new contributions since the University announced Helix Architecture + Design of Kansas City and HGA of Minneapolis as the official team for concept design and programming for the project’s first phase on Sept. 18.

According to, new gifts include:
-$3 million from anonymous donor for endowed scholarships
-$1 million from Sunderland Foundation
-$500,000 from Kirk Family
-$400,000 from Burns & McDonnell
-$250,000 from JE Dunn
-$250,000 from Tom and Jean McDonnell
-$100,000 from Greg and Deanna Graves
-$100,000 from Charles and Mary Kay Horner

Once the first phase of the Downtown Campus for the Arts is completed, the Conservatory will relocate an estimated 600 students to the new campus. This move is speculated to open further space on the Volker Campus for other departments within the College of Arts & Sciences.
According to an economic impact study by the Mid-America Regional Council, construction of the Downtown Campus for the Arts, along with repurposing the current Volker Campus Conservatory practice and classroom spaces would create an average of $30.8 million in gross domestic output, $22.9 million in real disposable income and 409 new jobs per fiscal year over a span of 25 years.
The new Conservatory constructed in the first phase of the project will occupy an estimated 80,000-square-foot space between Broadway, Central, 17th and 18th streets which was also promised by anonymous donors.
The new downtown campus aims to create a space that houses the best Conservatory students from across the nation, and specifically within the University of Missouri system. Its close proximity to the Kauffman Center is projected to further increase the livelihood and vigor of Kansas City’s downtown.