Students Voice Concerns about the Olsen Performing Arts Center

Cold instruments and lack of privacy makes practicing difficult


Aurora Wilson

The Olsen Performing Arts Center needs improvements, according to students.

Aurora Wilson, Staff Writer

  Vocal education major Elizabeth Watzke has strived for excellence throughout her time in the UMKC Conservatory but is beginning to question the state of the program. 

  Watzke, a sophomore originally from Omaha, Nebraska, participated in choir throughout high school and looked forward to taking her skills to the collegiate level. She spends hours practicing but feels discouraged about the state of the practice rooms in the Olsen Performing Arts Center, known as the PAC, and Grant Hall. 

  “The condition of the practice rooms makes it hard to want to practice which affects my performances and my grades,” Watzke said. 

  Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens cut funding for a new and updated arts center in 2018 which caused massive shifts in the building of the center.  

  According to Watzke, university officials told Conservatory students that the PAC practice rooms were to be renovated in the summer of 2022.  

  “The construction is expected to be complete before fall semester classes begin in August,” a statement released by UMKC in April said. 

  When Watzke returned for the fall semester, she was disappointed to see that the renovations did not take place, and was told that the construction was pushed to the following summer.  

  Annie Elmore, in her second year of earning her music education degree, said that the construction being pushed back has had an impact on her and others.  

  “For someone like me who lives in a very small apartment with neighbors who I don’t want to bother, I was unable to practice for a minute which was stressful, especially when you go to school for something that requires practicing,” Elmore said. 

  Student complaints include the thinness of the walls in the practice rooms, claiming they can hear on another whether it is instrument or singing, even if they aren’t in the same room. This causes an increase in distractions and the inability of students to perform at their best. 

  “You can hear people really clearly out in the hall and in rooms next to you so they are not as isolating as people think they are,” said sophomore music education major Maxine Koehn. “They are mid at best.” 

  Other problems in the PAC include old pianos, broken air conditioning units and aged technology. The abundance of less than functional equipment does not set the students who use them up for success.  

  In the hallway that hosts the practice rooms, the heat is broken and causes one section to be extremely cold. This cold affects the instruments and people’s voices causing tuning problems. 

  UMKC officials have said that construction will take place in the upcoming summer of 2023. 

 “There are plans to renovate practice rooms located in the Olson Performing Arts Center. That work will begin in May after the last day of classes,” said John Martellaro, UMKC Director of Strategic Communications.  

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