Missouri Senate passes funding for Downtown Arts Campus

The UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance cleared a major hurdle today when the Missouri Senate passed HCR 19, which includes half ($48 million) of funding necessary to build its Downtown Campus for the Arts.

The UMKC Conservatory Downtown Arts Campus has cleared a major hurdle in its race for approval.

The Missouri Senate has approved HCR 19 – authorizing the issuance of public bonds for half ($48 million) of the financing of a new UMKC Conservatory Arts Campus in Downtown – by a vote of 28 to 4. The Downtown Council received word of the vote just moments after the vote from Warren Erdman, our Downtown Arts Campus champion.

This is, indeed, an “incredible victory” for Missouri, the University and for Kansas City. We share Warren’s “deep gratitude” to Senators Holsman, Silvey, Kehoe, Kraus, and many many others.

The Kansas City Star published this account of the day’s breaking news story on Thursday afternoon:

All that remains between the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s new downtown arts campus and the state funding needed to build it is the signature of Gov. Eric Greitens.

The Senate on Thursday passed a bill that would authorize the state to borrow $48 million through a bond issue to help fund the arts campus, which would be adjacent to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

“The asset will truly add to the cultural and economic prosperity of the city and state,” said Sen. Jason Holsman, a Kansas City Democrat who has long championed the bill.

Half of the money for the Downtown arts campus already has been raised, primarily by private donors, including $20 million from Julia Irene Kauffman, but also $7 million from Kansas City government.

“The fact that Kansas City was able to come together as a community and raise $48 million tells you how important this is,” Holsman said on the floor.

He said he’d received no indication on whether the governor would sign the bill, and Greitens’ office did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Still, leaders at UMKC, City Hall and throughout Downtown were jubilant.

UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton, who has been promoting a downtown arts campus since soon after he became chancellor in 2008, commended the lawmakers who pushed the measure. But he also poured praise on the business and civic leaders who got behind the effort from the onset.

“I tell you, there’s a reason why I love Kansas City and it’s the people,” Morton said. “These folks when they put their minds to it can really make things happen.”

City Manager Troy Schulte called the project “a huge step forward for the university.”

“I think it’s a transformative project for downtown, and it’ll elevate UMKC nationally and internationally,” he said.


Schulte envisions the new conservatory as “the Juilliard of the West” because it will have a symbiotic relationship with the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts just as Juilliard has a close relationship with Lincoln Center in New York City.

City Councilwoman Jolie Justus, whose district includes Downtown, said the campus would bring a steady stream of college and graduate students to downtown, increasing the whole neighborhood’s vitality and vibrancy. She also has hopes the new conservatory can serve as a bridge to connect the Kauffman Center with the 18th &Vine Jazz District, with improvements all along 18th Street.

Warren Erdman, chief administration officer for Kansas City Southern, was among those who put special effort into getting Missouri lawmakers to support the project.

“This is one of the best shows of bipartisan leadership I’ve seen in a long time,” Erdman said. “Just an incredible show of bipartisanship. But it’s not possible without the support of the donors. If we don’t have that $48 million in our pocket, we don’t have a bill to bring forward.”

Sean O’Bryne, vice president of the Downtown Council and president of Block 4 Acquisitions, the group responsible for assembling the land where the downtown conservatory campus would be built, said the legislative action “shows that the state of Missouri is willing to invest even in tough times.”

The bill, which the House approved in March, cleared the Senate by a vote of 28-4. But vocal opponents criticized it for taking on more debt during a budget shortfall.

Sen. Bill Eigel, a Weldon Spring Republican, said funding the arts campus would plunge the state further into debt without providing substantive benefits beyond Kansas City.

And while proponents have argued that the arts campus would attract new talent and resources that would have positive statewide impact, Eigel didn’t buy it.

“Is there a great need for dancers in the state of Missouri?” Eigel asked on the floor.

He also expressed concerns that the project would raise tuition without adding to the university’s educational value.

“What I’ve come to realize is that the amount of money going into our higher education facilities is enormous,” Eigel said. “And what we’re finding is that a lot of those funds are being spent on buildings and styles of comfort versus improving the quality of education.”

But Holsman said the project is necessary to maintain the high-caliber reputation that the UMKC arts program enjoys. He said the current facilities have serious shortcomings that must be addressed to maintain talent.

For Sen. Mike Kehoe, who carried the bill on the Senate side, state support is a smart financial move.

Because the project would be state-owned but receive partial private funding, Kehoe said the project is a fiscally responsible move for the state.

“Whenever you can get an asset on a balance sheet for half the price that it will appear on the balance sheet,” Kehoe said, “I believe it’s a good time.”

Eigel challenged that.

“I understand that this is a state asset,” he said. “I’m not sure the founding fathers imagined government being the owners of large dance studios in spite of whatever benefit of fiscal incentive we think there is.”

Holsman emphasized the teamwork required to pass the legislation. He said partnerships with business leaders and among members of the Kansas City delegation helped move the bill over the finish line.

Sen. Ryan Silvey, a Kansas City Republican, was part of that partnership.

“I think it’s going to be a great addition to downtown,” Silvey said. “It’s going to create wonderful synergy between the performing arts and the education facilities that we already have.”

For Holsman and Silvey, the passing of the bill marks a major milestone.

“We are ecstatic that Kansas City has the opportunity to have a world-class facility as this to add to our continued momentum,” Holsman said. “This could end up being a signature piece of legislation for the session.”


Charlotte Street Town Pavilion Art Studio open house , Fri., April 28, 6-10 p.m.

Step into the studios of artists and engage with them about their work during the Charlotte Street Studio Residency Open House on FRIDAY, April 28, 6PM10PM at the Town Pavilion, 1100 Walnut, 6th Floor. Performance artists will have theatrical, music and dance performances throughout the night.

The event showcases the work of artists in Charlotte Street’s Studio Residency Program. It provides the public a chance to meet the artists, learn more about their work and processes, and attend live music and dance performances; readings; exhibitions; participatory activities; artist talks; special sales; and more. Activities will take place on Saturday as well. All events are free and open to the public.

Free parking will be available on Friday evening in the 1025 Main/Commerce Bank Parking Garage (park anywhere that is not reserved.)

Click here for additional information and schedules.

2017 Art in the Loop Kickoff Reception, Wed., April 26

Join us for the 2017 Art in the Loop Project: Cue! Kickoff Program and Reception on Wednesday, April 26, 6:30 p.m. at the Kansas City Public Library Central Library, 14 West 10th Street, in Kirk Hall. Click here to RSVP.

The 2017 Art in the Loop Project: Cue!, a curated outdoor exhibition staged in partnership with the City of Kansas City, Missouri, and KC Streetcar, features 14 temporary artworks and performances along the city’s streetcar route, in the City Market, and at the Central Library.  This year Art in the Loop will also bring a diverse array of musicians to Downtown Kansas City through a lunchtime concert series, Wednesdays, from 11:30 – 1:30, May 17 through September 13, at the same locations where artwork is installed.

As the series prepares to open, a number of the participating artists, dancers, musicians, and poets take turns discussing their works. They are introduced by curator Jessica Borusky, an artist, curator, and educator who lives and works in Kansas City.

Art in the Loop¬running from May 1 to September 30¬is designed to make cultural experiences available to downtown residents, visitors, and workers.

The 2017 Art in the Loop Project: Cue! is made possible through the generous support of KC Streetcar, the City of Kansas City, Missouri Arts Council, Arts KC and our corporate sponsors to date including Stinson Leonard Street, Henderson Engineers, JE Dunn Construction, McCownGordon Construction, and UMB Financial Corporation. For a full list of supporters and donors, or to make a donation click here.

For more information about the project, the artists and performance schedule visit www.artintheloop.com, www.facebook.com/artintheloop, or twitter.com/ArtintheLoop.

Downtown community Easter Egg Hunt is set for Saturday


The annual community Easter Egg Hunt by the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection Downtown is set for 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday on the southeast lawn of the Liberty Memorial. Visit cor.org/downtown for more.

Art in the Loop Video Screening Reception, Friday, Dec. 2

The Art in the Loop Foundation will hold a reception to showcase videos created by five local artists as components of the 2016 Art in the Loop Project: Connect. The event will take place at KC Skyline Realty, 1724 Main Street, from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2. Videos created by following artists will be exhibited:

Art in the Loop will also share a video, produced by Cody Hunt, summarizing the 27 art projects and performances included in this years project. Additionally, the gallery will exhibit work by Kati Toivanen and Lauren Thompson inspired by their 2016 projects: Hopscotch and Life Turning, respectively.

The 2016 Art in the Loop Project: Connect was a curated outdoor exhibit of temporary artwork and performances located along the KC Streetcar route and other Downtown locations from July through October. It infused the center of Downtown Kansas City with innovative and engaging temporary art that refreshed, intrigued and surprised Downtown workers, residents, and visitors. The project also created opportunities for local emerging and established artists to extend their practice into the Downtown environment with curatorial, professional and logistical support.

The 2016 Art in the Loop Project: Connect was made possible through the generous support of the City of Kansas City, Missouri, the KC Streetcar Authority, the KCMO-Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund, the Missouri Arts Council, ArtsKC and the Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts, as well as many corporate sponsors.
Space for the screening and exhibit is provided by Dave Jennings, KC Skyline Realty.

Click here to download the full press release with images.

Art in the Loop 2016 Closing Reception, Nov. 2

The Art in the Loop Foundation is pleased to announce 2 events that will wrap up our 2016 season of performances and artwork.

Closing Reception & Pop-Up Exhibit – Wednesday, Nov. 2

On Wednesday, November 2, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., the public is invited to a Closing Reception and Pop-Up Exhibit at the Kansas City Public Library Central Library, located at 14 West 10th Street.  Objects and ephemera from the 2016 projects will be displayed, turning the Helzberg Auditorium into a gallery for the evening.

The program will begin at 6:30 and include 2-minute presentations from each of the artists. This will be a fast-paced energetic presentation! Attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about the artists and the artwork presented throughout the past months.  Beverages and appetizers will be provided.  Click here to RSVP.

Art in the Loop Screening – Friday, Dec. 2

On Friday, December 2, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Art in the Loop will host a 2016 Art in the Loop Screening Reception at Keller Williams Skyline office and gallery, located at 1724 Main Street.  The program will feature videos from our 2016 Art in the Loop artists including Elizabeth Stehling, Jon Johnson, Lauren Thompson, Alison Greene and Neil Goss as well as artwork by Kati Toivanen and Lauren Thompson. We will show our 2016 Art in the Loop video by Cody Hunt. Beverages and appetizers will be provided. Click  here to RSVP.

The 2016 Art in the Loop Project: Connect was brought to you by the Art in the Loop Foundation with the support of the Downtown Council, Downtown Community Improvement DistrictCity of Kansas City, Missouri, KC Streetcar Authority, Missouri Arts Council, Neighborhood Trust and Development Fund, ArtsKC and many corporate sponsors.

For more information, contact Ann Holliday, ann@downtownkc.org or (816) 979-1072.

Sound & Dance to Infiltrate Ilus Davis Park – Friday, Sep 30

On Friday, September 30, choreographer Lauren Thompson and sound designer Jonathan Robertson will bring their improvisational dance and sound performance, Downtown Replay, to Ilus Davis Park from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Tart-in-parkhe performance will take place on and around a stage placed in the center of the water feature near the southwest corner of the park near 11th & Oak Streets.

Life and art imitate each other; this is the feedback loop that Downtown Replay explores through movement and sound. Prior to the performance,  Thompson has designed movement inspired by the architecture of the park and Robertson record on location – these movements and sounds initiate and function as the core of the piece.

During the performance, sounds will continue to be captured through microphones strategically placed around the park. The public can manipulate the sound and movement of the space they are in, while at the same time the choreographer and sound designer have predetermined part of their experience. Videographer Tom Hipp will record the performance from various angles. The video recording will be used to create an interactive projection for a later, stage performance.

This performance is free and open to the public. It the final performance of the 2016 Art in the Park and Art in the Loop projects.  Art in the Park is an effort by the City of Kansas City, Missouri to enliven public outdoor spaces with temporary art pieces and performances.  It was produced this year in coordination with the 2016 Art in the Loop Project which included temporary artworks and performance on the KC Streetcar route, in Oppenstein Park and at Prairie Logic on the Green Roof. For more information, contact Ann Holliday, 816-979-1072 or ann@downtownkc.org, or Elizabeth Bowman, elizabeth.bowman@kcmo.org.

About the Artists

Lauren Thompson is a local dancer and choreographer. She is a graduate from the University of Kansas City-Missouri with a BFA in modern dance, in addition to a collection of other degrees. Lauren’s work has been performed at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City Fringe Festival, Unicorn Theater, and with Art in the Loop.

Jonathan Robertson is an adjunct instructor of music technology at Missouri Western State University and a composer and sound designer working in Kansas City. Recent credits include composer for the theatre play Medea (directed by Joshua K. Brody) at UMKC, assistant sound designer for Kansas City Swing (dir. Ricardo Khan) at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, and composer/sound designer for Immeasurable Heaven (dir. Stephanie Roberts) on Spencer Stage at UMKC, and music director for Mr. Burns, a post-electric play at the Unicorn theatre. He co-wrote and directed the plays Mannequins, Companions and The Audio Cart (Kansas City Fringe Festival 2014,  2015, and 2016).

Tom Hipp produces and directs film content in the Kansas City area and beyond. He graduated from the University of Kansas School of Journalism and got his start in TV commercials. Since then he has collaborated with a diverse group of people and clients to create television, commercials, web pieces, music videos, documentaries and more.  Tom loves Kansas City and is excited to further develop both the film production and art communities in the area.

Art on the KC Streetcar Line Touted in KC Star

Art on the Line – a series of 6 artworks temporarily installed on the KC Streetcar route – was highlighted in the Arts & Culture section of the Kansas City Star this weekend.  Art on the Line was one of temporary art installation and performance series produced by Art in the Loop and many partners this summer.

The artworks will remain installed through the end of this month.   Read what the artists themselves and curator, Jessica Borusky,  have to say about the pieces here:    http://www.kansascity.com/entertainment/arts-culture/article102008997.html

KC Star videographer Shelly Yang created this “ride-along” style video to give you a taste of the art!

Local composer leads musical happening on rooftop park

Morel_hi_resThe rooftops of Downtown Kansas City will come alive on Tuesday evening September 20, at 6:00 pm,when composer and musician Daniel Morel presents Kansas City Calling with the Jibrish Horn Quartet and members of the University of Missouri, Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance Horn Studio.

The performance will take place at Prairie Logic, the public art installation and performance venue on the Green Roof above Cosentino’s Parking Garage, 1261 Main St, on the 6th floor.

Kansas City Calling is an evening-length musical happening that evokes both the bustling past and thriving current day of Kansas City. The program draws on original and borrowed music to represent the history of Kansas City with a wafting soundscape that builds over the course of the evening. The entire rooftop will come alive with historical sounds, virtuosic solos, displaced melodies, and an ambient hum that coalesces into the story of Kansas City told through music. The program concludes with a final concert featuring the Jibrish Horn Quartet and members of the UMKC Conservatory Horn Studio.

Daniel Morel is a Kansas City-based composer whose works are permeated with the Western sensibilities of his Colorado upbringing, drawing on influences ranging from prairie thunderstorms to classic American poetry.  Performance details and further information are available at www.danmorel.com.

This performance is free and open to the public and is part of the 2016 Art in the Loop Project: Connect brought to you by the Art in the Loop Foundation with the support of the Downtown Council, Downtown Community Improvement DistrictCity of Kansas City, Missouri, KC Streetcar Authority, Missouri Arts Council, Neighborhood Trust and Development Fund, ArtsKC and many corporate sponsors.

Cuban Music Coming to KC Streetcar

Cubanisms.logoJoin us Friday, September 9, for a musical performance at the KC Streetcar River Market West Stop inspired by the current political thaw between Cuba and the United States.  From 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Ensemble Iberica will present “Cubanisms”, a continuous acoustic performance of traditional Cuban “son”. The performance includes Ensemble Iberica musicians, Michael McClintock (Cuban tres), Beau Bledsoe (guitar), Jordan Shipley (bass), Brandon Draper (percussion) and Cuban national, Dálida Teresa Pupo Barrios (percussion and documentation).

Listeners/passengers will be taught traditional “coros” (repeated participatory choruses) and given percussion instruments to play such as the Cuban clave or bongos.

Ensemble Ibérica performs the music of Ibéria (Spain and Portugal) and the colonial Americas while educating the public about Iberian cultural influence. Programs explore diverse time periods, styles and locations including the Spanish baroque, Portuguese fado and Argentine tango. The Ensemble features extraordinary musicians from classical, jazz and folk traditions both locally and from around the world.

This performance is free and open to the public and is part of the 2016 Art in the Loop Project: Connect brought to you by the Art in the Loop Foundation with the support of the Downtown Council, Downtown Community Improvement DistrictCity of Kansas City, Missouri, KC Streetcar Authority, Missouri Arts Council, Neighborhood Trust and Development Fund, ArtsKC and many corporate sponsors.

What’s That Sound? KC Streetcar Performance Planned for Friday, 9/2

On Friday, September 2, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the Mnemosyne Quartet will employ the power of sound to transport Kansas City streetcar passengers beyond the boundaries of the line to favorite Kansas City destinations, such as: The Zoo, Union Station, and The Kansas Speedway. For those passengers brave enough to participate, Mnemosyne encourages the streaming of our digital content, via your handheld device.  The experience begins at the 14th street stop going north.   

Transient Harmony is a sound installation and performance that will encompass the streetcar line between 9th and 14th street. Members of the quartet will travel with passengers presenting live music, while a newly created mobile app will allow the quartet to connect with downtown tourists, workers and residents both on and off the streetcar. While live performance will occur only along the streetcar line, you will be able to experience the unification of Kansas City’s urban soundscape through the app.

In addition to electronic music, Transient Harmony will feature Bass Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, and Baritone Saxophone performers.

To stream: Download Mixlr on your cell phone and search for MnemosyneQuartet

UMKC marches toward $96M Downtown Campus for the Arts

  Downtown Campus for the Arts
A plan to bring up to 700 university students each year to Downtown Kansas City is moving forward.
The University of Missouri-Kansas City has hit its $48 million fundraising target for bringing its Conservatory for Music & Dance to the Crossroads Arts District at the corner of 17th and Broadway, just across from the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
Now, leaders behind the Downtown Campus for the Arts plan are going to the Missouri Legislature to ask for a 50-50 funding match through a program that funds capital projects at public colleges and universities through public-private partnerships.
The University of Missouri System Board of Curators approved the university’s request in June. If it is approved by the state, will allow for a state-of-the-art practice and classroom space directly across from the world renown Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, reported MetroWire News.
Partnering with UMKC on this visionary plan, the Downtown Council (DTC) formed a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization called Block 4 Acquisitions to assist with the acquisition of land. The DTC negotiated with several property owners and acquired a full city block at 17th & Broadway. The land, valued at approximately $7 million, will be donated to UMKC upon the successful completion of the fundraising effort. In addition to acquiring the land, the DTC will act as the property manager and participate in fundraising.
Conservatory 2
The project has been named one of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s “Big 5” goals, which is a title given to community-based projects that promise to “bring better health, improved education, more jobs, increased investment and a better quality of life to everyone in the region.”
Peter Witte, Dean of the Conservatory of Music and Dance at UMKC, updated the members of KC Downtowners this month on the progress of $96 million project. The four-story building will sit on the southeast corner of 18th and Broadway and will include a 250-seat performance hall, a choral rehearsal room, two dance studios and a 100 seat recital hall that will be used to host more than 300 events a year.
The building was designed with a nod to the Kauffman Center. The performance hall, rehearsal room, and dance studios feature tall, special soundproof glass windows that face the performing arts center to the north. But on the south side of the building, Witte says the building will have a more “jeans and jazz” feel, where students will take advantage of a courtyard area where special events and performances will take place.
With its prime location in the heart of the creative district and just a mile and a half from the historic 18th and Vine jazz district, the Downtown Campus for the Arts will seek to incorporate the culture of the downtown and Crossroads districts into the curriculum. The Conservatory seeks to enroll up to 700 undergraduate and graduate students, ranging in age from 18 to 35, anticipating that the campus will bring a much needed presence to Downtown on its slower nights.
Witte says that while the KC Symphony, KC Ballet, Lyric Opera and other neighborhood festivities take center stage on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, the Conservatory will create a buzz in the earlier part of the week, bringing life to the area on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. And, that spells opportunity for area retailers and restaurants.
“We’ll bring those 700 families, out of town mothers and fathers and siblings who will stay at hotels and look down at the Kauffman Center and plan their week,” he said. “You’ll start to see, if you’re a restaurant or retailer, that there’s that much more activity coming Downtown.”
With an anticipated three year build, the estimated completion date of the Downtown Campus for the Arts is 2020. The design team includes Helix Architecture + Design and HGA.
“I’d like to thank you, the companies you represent, the foundations you represent and just you as citizens for helping sending the message to Missouri that the arts matter that this is the right project for Kansas City, that it will augment our existing investments and that increasingly this is the right thing to do for Missouri,” Witte said.