UMKC Conservatory Landing on Main Campus

The University of Missouri-Kansas City announced this afternoon that the new home for its performing arts programs will be built on the university’s main campus near the Country Club Plaza.

The new Conservatory of Music and Dance and Department of Theatre building will go up next to the existing Olson Performing Arts Center, facing Volker Boulevard, the university said in a news release. The goal will be to create a dramatic, iconic new front door to the Volker Campus, and will augment an arts corridor that already includes the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Kansas City Art Institute campus and the newly expanded and remodeled Olson Center, home of the Kansas City Repertory Theatre.

It took years to reach this point, after a series of failed efforts to put the new conservatory building Downtown, an attempt to continue the revitalization of the central business district and to leverage assets like Kauffman Performing Arts Center. Fund-raising challenges, including former Gov. Eric Greitens’ call to reject state funding for the move, prompted the new look at the Volker campus site. The university will again ask legislators, under Gov. Mike Parson, to reconsider funding for the project.

“The heart of Kansas City’s vibrant and vital performing arts community has always been in UMKC’s performing arts programs, so it is fitting that those be located in the heart of our campus,” Chancellor Mauli Agrawal said in the release. “Keeping that heart beating strongly is a community imperative. The continuing approval of our accrediting bodies is dependent on bringing this project to fruition. The time has come to move from the talking and planning phases to the action phase.”

The next steps, the university said, entail a program review of all needs for music, dance and theatre, set final square footage and estimated final cost, selection of teams for architecture, design and construction, and consultations with donors, civic leaders and state officials regarding funding.