UMKC’s Conservatory of Music and Dance is gaining momentum for attracting and retaining great artistic talent to Kansas City.

This past spring, the gift of a dream location for a future downtown arts campus was announced.

“This gift brings us another step closer to meeting the challenge put forth by Julia Irene Kauffman,” Chancellor Leo E. Morton says. “It is an important step, but there is still much work to be done.”

The site covers a full city block bounded by Broadway, Central, 17th and 18th streets, near the city’s vibrant Crossroads Arts District, and directly south of the state-of-the-art Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

The 80,000-square-foot tract donated is contingent on UMKC raising the full $96 million cost for Phase I of the multi-phase project.

“This is our dream site,” Morton says. “It offers everything we wanted, everything we hoped for, a perfect site to execute the vision we have for our students, and for this vibrant and growing artistic district in the heart of Kansas City. The Conservatory of Music and Dance has found a home here in the Crossroads District.”

The announcement marked the third milestone in the progress of the downtown campus, following the public release of detailed imapact studies and the announcement of a $20 million challenge grant pledge by the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation last fall.

The school’s proposed move downtown is one of the “Big 5” civic priorities for the region identified by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.

Supporters say relocating the Conservatory would cement a great artistic marriage. Many point to a similar relationship between the Juilliard School and Lincoln Center in New York.

Sarah Carney, president of the Conservatory Student Association, says she believes the Conservatory’s future proximity to the Kauffman Center will educate students in ways that transcend classroom instruction.

“Future Conservatory students will gain a new understanding of their true potential in Kansas City’s thriving arts district,” she says. “We will grow as the artists, educators and healers that we are destined to be.”

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