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Rendering of dance studio planned for UMKC's arts campus.

University of Missouri-Kansas City says it will raise funds for arts campus without state assistance

June 28, 2017
Officials had been pursuing $48 million in matching funds, but feared Missouri's governor would veto the allocation.

With the state's share of funding for the University of Missouri-Kansas City's planned $96 million downtown arts campus facing a veto threat, university system officials have announced that they will seek alternative funding rather than continue to pursue an allocation from the state.

“This approach will allow construction to begin sooner and save money by avoiding construction cost inflation on a project that will benefit the students of UMKC, the people of Kansas City and the state of Missouri,” UM System President Mun Choi says in a news release. “This is a strategic investment to support our key goals in academics and scholarship. That makes it a priority for the UM System and UMKC.”

The details of the finances for the project still are being developed and will be presented for approval to the Board of Curators at the September meeting.

The Kansas City Star reports that the although the Missouri General Assembly has passed a bill to issue up to $48 million in bonds for the arts campus, the university, backers of the project were concerned that Gov. Eric Greitens would veto the allocation.

The UM System has designated UMKC as Missouri’s Campus for the Performing Arts. Donors already have pledged $48 million for the project, led by a $20 million gift from Julia Irene Kauffman on behalf of the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation. The new funding mechanism would honor and preserve those pledges by delivering matching funds.

The downtown campus is to be built in the city's downtown area, several miles north of the main campus. The university says that when the arts campus is completed, it will bring about 700 students, faculty and staff to the area as a daily, daytime presence.

At the downtown arts campus, conservatory students will have increased opportunities to work alongside professionals in the Kansas City Symphony, Kansas City Lyric Opera, Kansas City Ballet, American Jazz Museum and the Crossroads Arts District. This will strengthen student-professional collaborations and emulate successful urban arts education programs like that of Juilliard and the Lincoln Center in New York City.

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