Downtown art campus plans in motion

U-News Staff

“The idea of a Downtown Campus for the Arts has really captured the public imagination,” said Anne Hartung Spenner, Vice Chancellor for Marketing and Communications.

The website ( has just been created to keep the public updated on new developments and progress reports, as well as learn and discuss through a FAQ page and a comment page.

“Just as the UMKC Health Sciences campus at Hospital Hill creates proximity and synergy between the University and prominent community medical facilities, a downtown arts campus could continue our urban engagement tradition and enrich Kansas City’s already flourishing arts district,” according to the UMKC Public Relations press release.

The idea has been named as one of Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s “Big 5” ideas, along with the World’s Symposium on Animal Health, the Urban Core Neighborhood Initiative, the Making of America’s Most Entrepreneurial City and the KC Regional Translational Research Initiative, according to an article on

If such a campus is created, the Conservatory of Music and Dance will relocate to the heart of Kansas City, possibly along with other art programs such as the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, KCUR 89.3 FM and UMKC Theatre.

Over the next several months, Helix Architecture + Design, Integra Realty Resources and HGA Architects and Engineers will complete a feasibility study, and the campus will undertake an economic impact study this spring. The studies will provide a preliminary program and cost estimate for the project, look at potential downtown properties, develop site and concept plans and gather feedback from UMKC and the community.

According to the official website for the project, Chancellor Leo E. Morton has stated that the proposal for an arts campus won’t go forward unless it benefits the entire university, but the project would be reinforcing the university’s missions to advance urban engagement and excel in the visual and performing arts.

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