$20 million pledge lights the way for UMKC Downtown Arts Campus

The UMKC Downtown Campus for the Arts took 20 million steps closer to reality today.

The Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation today announced a pledge of $20 million toward the creation of a Downtown Campus for the Arts for the University of Missouri-Kansas City. 

The $20 million challenge grant was approved at the recent meeting of the

Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation Board of Directors and represents a leadership gift toward funding of the first phase of the proposed Downtown Campus for the Arts.  That phase of the expansive multi-decade plan involves moving the university’s renowned Conservatory of Music and Dance to a location in the Crossroads Arts District. Subsequent phases would move other university-based arts programs to the site.

The grant award is contingent upon the Conservatory raising the additional $70 million of funding needed to proceed with the project’s first phase within a period of three years. The $20 million gift is the second-largest in UMKC history, and believed to be one of the largest gifts to a public university conservatory in the past 10 years.

“The Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation is pleased to take the lead in supporting the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance in this exciting project.  The Conservatory is a vibrant community resource and we believe the Downtown Arts Campus project has the potential to bring excitement and broad revitalized economic development to downtown, to the Kauffman Center, and to other arts groups located Downtown,” said Julia Irene Kauffman, Chairman and CEO of the foundation.

“We are proud to be a catalyst for progress to help drive the Conservatory to new heights with a new, cutting-edge facility and, at the same time, relieve overcrowding on the congested UMKC Volker Campus,” Kauffman added. “This project will bring great synergy among existing arts organizations and initiatives, such as KC Creative Crossroads, an unprecedented regional collaboration among the area’s civic leadership and arts organizations.”

Peter Witte, Dean of the Conservatory, praised Kauffman and her foundation for both their generosity, and their vision.

“Through the leadership of Ms. Kauffman and David Lady, the Foundation has provided Kansas City with more than just great artistic experiences. They have provided unprecedented opportunities for the community’s growth and development. They have done so through philanthropy that is more than just generous. It is thoughtful and strategic,” Witte said. “Their leadership dares us to dream – to dream big, and dream boldly.”

Speakers at the event also included Kansas City Mayor Sly James and UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton.

“Much has been said about the impact this project can have on our artistic community, on economic development, on our city’s reputation in the world,” Morton said. “But what this is really all about is creating the next generation of world-class artists right here in Kansas City.”

Morton added that UMKC would continue to be an artistic resource for the entire community on all of its campuses. White Recital Hall and the Spencer Theatre on the Volker campus, he said, would continue to host a rich array of UMKC student performances for the benefit of non-arts students and the community.

(Click HERE to see a video about the Downtown Campus!)

Several speakers focused on the Downtown Campus for the Arts as a benefit not just for the university and its art students, but also for the community as a whole. The campus would address several highly significant needs and opportunities for both campus and community:

  • the university’s need for increased space and improved facilities for its renowned visual and performing arts programs;
  • the need for growth space on the landlocked Volker campus;
  • the city’s need to boost employment, activity and residency in the urban core;
  • and the wealth of opportunities for artistic and educational synergy, economic development and national attention being generated by the city’s burgeoning arts and cultural renaissance.

An economic impact study by the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) estimates that the economic activity associated with the construction of the arts campus and reuse of the Volker campus would average, at minimum, approximately 409 jobs, $30.8 million in real GDP, and $22.9 million in real disposable personal income per year over 25 years. Of these impacts, a little over half results from the construction itself, with the rest generated by the expansion of arts and other educational programs at UMKC.

The concept is based on successful performing arts school/performing arts center combinations such as Juilliard/Lincoln Center in New York, and the New England Conservatory/Jordan Hall in Boston. The concept was the focus of the Downtown Council’s Annual Luncheon in December 2012 that brought Julliard’s President Joseph Polisi to Downtown.

The concept of a Downtown Arts Campus clearly supports UMKC’s mission and strategic goals to “advance urban engagement” and “excel in the visual and performing arts”; addresses the 2005 “Time To Get It Right” report goal to “enhance UMKC’s stature as one of the top 20 universities in the arts;” and provides an opportunity to create innovative state-of-the-art educational and living facilities in Downtown for arts students.

Esquire tabs three Downtown bars for national kudos

Three of Downtown’s favorites watering holes have been selected by Esquire magazine or its list of Best Bars in America 2013.

Two of the three — Harry’s Country Club in the River Market and Manifesto in the Crossroads — were called out in the June/July edition that is currently on stands. The third — the Blue Room at 18th & Vine — is included in the complete list of America’s best bar that is found online.

Esquire went so far as to recommend the cocktail of choice at each of the bars on the list. For Downtown afficianadoes.

Harry’s Country Club: “You’re having a Thomas H. Handy rye on the rocks”

Manifesto: “You’re having a Jackson County Democrat Club Cocktail

The Blue Room: “You’re having a Blue Room Martini — (Skyy Melon, Blue Curacao, Triple Sec, lime juice)”

To read the write-ups on the Downtown establishments and any other bars on the list, click here

Fashionistas prepare to strut their stuff on West 18th Street

Ahhh summertime in Downtown Kansas City. Things are about to heat up in the arts, entertainment and cultural scene.

The 13th annual West 18th Street Fashion Show, set for Saturday, June 7 in the Crossroads, tops our list of the 5 hottest events, attractions or happenings in greater Downtown KC in June:

#1 Fashionistas!

  • Saturday, June 8: West 18th Street Fashion Show @ Crossroads Arts District

#2 Art is in the air

#3 Play that funky music

#4 Summer festivities

#5 The lights are much brighter when you’re Downtown

  • Saturday, June 9: Street League Skateboarding @ Sprint Center
  • Saturday, June 22: Bill O’Reilly and Dennis Miller @ Midland
  • Saturday, June 22: Real Pirates exhibition opens @ Union Station

Pirates? In Kansas City? Buckle up for a summer of fun!





Mayor to christen KC FilmFest tonight

Mayor Sly James will be on hand this evening to help launch the 2013 edition of the Kansas City FilmFest at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema at 14th & Main in Downtown Kansas City. More than 100 films will be shown at the Film Fest, which opens today and runs through Sunday.

Mayor James will speak at 6:15 p.m. today, just prior to the 6:30 p.m. screening of the local film, We Are Superman.

Of all the films in the FilmFest, about two-thirds of them are participating in competition.  But, in addition to the  competition, FilmFest organizers scoured the globe to find other great films that have not yet made it to Kansas City.

The competition is the oldest part of the Kansas City Filmmakers Jubilee, the nonprofit organization that presents FilmFest each year. In 1996, Jubilee founder Fred Andrews learned that Kansas City had an active and growing filmmaking community but there were few venues for filmmakers to show their work. As a result, Andrews launched the Kansas City Filmmakers Jubilee which held its first festival in 1997.

For ticket information and more information, visit the FilmFest online.



City Lights to feature ‘world’s largest’ outdoor Pong game

The City Lights holiday lighting ceremony in Downtown Kansas City will feature a whole new bounce, when the 10th annual event arrives on Friday evening, Nov. 16. This year’s ceremony will feature a 22-story, working Pong™ game on the south side of the Downtown Marriott.

“This will be a holiday lighting ceremony like nothing you’ve ever seen,” said Mike Hurd, marketing director for the Downtown Council and member of the City Lights organizing committee. “We are working with Atari, who is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the original Pong, in an attempt to set the Guinness Book of World Records record for the world’s largest Pong game.”

The City Lights event will celebrate its 10th anniversary at 6 p.m. Friday with the traditional tree-lighting ceremony at Barney Allis Plaza. The beloved event marks the official start of the Salvation Army’s fundraising campaign. Here is a quick guide to City Lights 2012:

WHAT? City Lights, the annual Downtown holiday lighting ceremony, is preparing for its 10th annual event. The celebration is free and open to the public.

WHEN? The City Lights ceremony will run from 6:00 to 6:30 p.m. Complimentary refreshments will be served prior to the event, beginning at 5:00 p.m.

WHERE? The ceremony is at the Barney Allis Plaza, 12th & Wyandotte, although the lighting display encompasses several nearby buildings including the Kansas City Marriott Downtown, which features spectacular, computer-generated holiday images and a special, enormous version of the Pong video game across its 22-story façade.

WHY? City Lights is the official kickoff of the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas Campaign, which raises money to fund Salvation Army programs year-round.

WHO? City Lights is sponsored each year by the Kansas City Marriott Downtown, the Downtown Council of Kansas City and The Salvation Army. The event will also feature entertainment by the Raymore-Peculiar High School marching band and a special appearance by Santa Claus.

PONG! This year, the south face of the Downtown Marriott will be transformed into the world’s largest video game – specifically, Pong – for City Lights. Atari is celebrating the 40th anniversary of Pong this month by launching the world’s first official Pong game in the App Store for iPhones and iPads on Nov. 29.

WORLD’S RECORD? In an effort to support City Lights and the Salvation Army, Atari has submitted and received approval from the Guinness Book of World Records to move forward with an attempt to set the record for “The World’s Largest Game of Pong”.





Boston Globe believes Downtown KC’s ‘heritage is hip’

Downtown  and Kansas City received some welcomed attention from The Boston Globe in its Sunday edition, Oct. 21 that is distributed to about half a million households.

Reporter Robin Soslow clearly loved her recent visit to Kansas City. Even her article’s headline reflected the positive review that was about to come our way: Kansas City, Mo., gives heritage a hip twist.

Several Downtown neighborhoods — including the City Market, Crossroads, 18th & Vine, Quality Hill and the Westside — along with parks, fountains, museums and the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts all captured Soslow’s attention.

“Building on, not over, its rich past, Kansas City proves that progress and preservation can happily coexist. Here, heritage is hip,” Soslow wrote.

Here’s a sample of her prose and praise of the Crossroads:

“Crossroads galleries, cafes, clubs, and shops animate time-worn industrial buildings. Locals pour from lofts in splendidly restored brick-walled warehouses. Lines have formed at Cafe Gratitude since it opened in May. At Sherry Leedy Contemporary, I fall for an exquisite Kansas City Royals-blue gown; unfortunately, it’s doll-size and ceramic, as are the sensuous creatures by local artist Steven Gorman. Late night, the back door of Manifesto, a reincarnated speakeasy, leads to absinthe and savory pepper elixirs.”

To check out the entire article, go to:


Did you hear the one about the elephants walking down Grand?

Yep, and this one is not a joke. 

In celebration of the return of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus returning to Downtown Kansas City and the Sprint Center on Wednesday (through Sunday). the elephants will stroll through the streets of Downtown on four different occasions this week.

Make plans to see this entertaining, unique and free attraction at one of the following days/times:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 11: Grand entrance — Elephant walk from Union Station to Sprint Center, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Of course, due to train schedules, the time is tentative. The best location for viewing will be at Truman Road and Oak. The complete route leads from the rail-yard at Union Station; northeast on Avenida Cesar E. Chavez, which becomes West 22nd Street; north on Baltimore Avenue; east on 20th Street; north on Walnut Street; east on 19th Street to Oak Street; north on Oak to Sprint Center.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 12: Elephant brunch and brief show at 11:40 a.m. on Grand Blvd.in front of Sprint Center. (Grand will be closed from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. between 13th Street and Truman Road.)
  • Sunday, Sept. 16: Grand exit — Elephant walk from Sprint Center to Union Station, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
For more information on the circus, visit www.sprintcenter.com

What Makes A Great City? A Downtown Arts Campus

What Makes a Great City? A Downtown Arts Campus
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
 6:30pm @ Kansas City Public Library, Central Library, 14 W 10th Street

Imagine a Downtown Campus for the Arts with more than 600 music, dance and visual art students studying, exhibiting, performing, living and playing in Downtown Kansas City.

Imagine a campus that embraces many of Kansas City’s most respected cultural institutions, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, the Kansas City Art Institute, and others.

Imagine the possibilities… and their beneficial impact on Downtown.

Join Peter Witte, Dean of UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, Jacqueline Chanda, President of Kansas City Art Institute, and Jerry Allen, The Cultural Planning Group and consultant to the Mayor’s task Force for the Arts, as they envision a future for the arts in Downtown Kansas City.  Mike Burke, chairman of the Mayor’s Task Force on the Arts, will moderate this discussion of the formal and informal connections between technology, the arts and creativity. The conversation will range from the practical to the visionary.

“In an era of the arts, how might UMKC’s students engage with a renewed city center?” asks Peter Witte, in a recent column in The Kansas City Star. “By some estimates, Kansas City has invested more than $6 billion in development since 2000. Of that, more than $1.57 billion was dedicated to arts, cultural and entertainment facilities. How do we activate these investments and ensure their vibrancy for generations to come?”

This panel discussion will be held on Wednesday, September 5, from 6:30 to 7:30 at the Kansas City Public Library Central Library, Helzberg Auditorium.

Art in the Loop Foundation, the Downtown Council of Kansas City, Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City Public Library, the Municipal Art Commission of Kansas City and the UMKC Conservatory of Dance and Music will co-sponsor this event.

RSVP  to the Kansas City Public Library at http://www.kclibrary.org/event/vision-downtown-arts-campus or call 816-701-3407.


UMKC releases studies of Downtown Arts Campus

A Downtown Campus for the Arts for the University of Missouri-Kansas City would improve educational opportunities for students in all fields, boost economic development for the region, enhance Kansas City’s ongoing arts renaissance and inject millions of dollars into the local economy over the next 25 years.

That is the conclusion of a series of studies commissioned by the university after a downtown arts campus was named one of the Big 5 goals for Greater Kansas City. These reports include a study of potential sites and costs, prepared by Helix Architecture + Design, Integra Realty Resources and HGA Architects and Engineers; an internal UMKC review of the potential impact of moving arts programs downtown on the university and its component parts; and an economic impact study conducted by the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC). The three studies, and a unified executive summary of all three, are available at http://info.umkc.edu/artscampus/impact-studies/

“When this idea was first broached, we had several fundamental questions we needed answered before we would move forward: Would it be better for the education of all of our students? Would it be good for the community? What would it cost?” said Leo E. Morton, UMKC Chancellor. “After reviewing these studies, we have our answers. We believe that this is the right thing to do, if the resources can be raised to make it happen.”

The sites and costs study recommends three potential sites and a phased move of the visual and performing arts schools over a 20+-year period. Under the “phasing” formula, the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, which has the greatest need for increased space and improved facilities, would move first. Following in succeeding phases over 20 or more years would be the UMKC Theatre and the Kansas City Repertory Theatre in the second phase; and in a third phase, KCUR Radio and the UMKC Departments of Art & Art History, Communication Studies, and Architecture, Urban Planning and Design.

“It’s an idea worth exploring because the opening of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts will bring international and national attention to Kansas City in the arena of the performing arts,” said Warren Erdman, 2011 chairman, University of Missouri Board of Curators, and executive committee member of the Downtown Council of Kansas City.

“This is excellent news, and sets the stage for the next steps in our Big 5 goal to relocate the university’s arts programs to a new and exciting downtown location. These three studies were crucial to the first phase of this initiative, and I compliment Chancellor Morton on the thorough and expeditious process the university has followed,” said Jim Heeter, president and CEO, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. “This ‘Big Idea’ can become a reality, and I anticipate strong community support for the move.”

Costs of the move were pegged by the studies at a range of $152 million for the most basic “core” programs of each department, to $272 million for a “full” range of programming options, such as a new 500-seat theatre for the Kansas City Rep.

The MARC economic impact study forecast a range of $375 million to $442 million in increased Gross Domestic Output over 25 years, versus what would take place without creation of the new campus.

One of the key impacts on the university would be creating opportunity for growth of non-arts programs on the Volker campus. The university’s strategic plan calls for increasing enrollment by one-third by 2020, from 15,000 to 20,000 students, primarily through growth in the School of Computing and Engineering, School of Biological Sciences, School of Education, School of Nursing, College of Arts and Sciences, and the Bloch School of Management.

Moving arts students to the hub of cultural activity in and around the Crossroads District would expand opportunities and creative synergies, while placing more than 700 students and faculty in the daily environment of the district.

All Star Week to reach its crescendo today

The five-day blue wave of All Star excitement will reach its climax today in Downtown and around Kansas City.

While Downtown hotels will remain full of All Star fanatics for another few days, today is the final day of scheduled Major League Baseball activities. Considering that Kansas City is not likely to host another All Star Game for years to come, do yourself a favor and take the time to enjoy the festivities today and tonight.

For starters, be sure to check out the MLB All Star Fan Fest at Bartle Hall. It’s a buy one/get one free ticket day at Fan Fest, which will run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Downtown is also the place to be for a special They Were All Stars exhibit at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and an open house at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

As for tonight, if you are not going to the K to see the game in person, Downtown is playing host to four free community watch parties at 18th & Vine, Crown Center, Guadalupe Center and the Power & Light District.

Here’s the full rundown of All Star fun for Tuesday, July 10:

  • MLB All-Star Fan Fest @ Bartle Hall (9 a.m.-6 p.m.)
  • Free FanatiKCs Trolleys  from 13th & Wyandotte to 8 Downtown destinations (8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.)
  • Amateurs to All Stars exhibit @ Central Library (9 a.m.-9 p.m.)
  • Economics of Basaeball luncheon @ Union Station (Noon-2 p.m.) Sold out.
  • KC All Star Latin Band, featuring Pablo Sanhueza @ the American Jazz Museum’s Blue Room (7-11 p.m.)
  • Open house @ Kauffman Center (10 a.m.-5 p.m.)
  • They Were All Stars exhibit @ NLBM (9 a.m.-6 p.m.)
  • Free Watch Parties @ 18th & Vine, Crown Center, Power & Light District, Guadalupe Center in the Westside
  • World War I All Stars exhibit @ WWI Museum (10 a.m.-5 p.m.)
  • MLB All Star Parade @ the Plaza (1 p.m.)
  • 83rd MLB All Star Game @ the K (7 p.m.)
For more information, visit www.visitkc.com/allstar and www.facebook.com/DowntownKansasCity
Remember, try to get out today and enjoy the moment!

Downtown KC revels in the All Star home stretch

All Star Game fever is in full bloom around Downtown Kansas City. Visitors and baseball enthusiasts have been pouring into Downtown hotels, restaurants and attractions over the weekend in preparation for the stretch run of All Star activities today and Tuesday.

Today’s highlights include day 4 of the Major League Baseball All Star Fan
Fest  at Bartle Hall; an open house at the amazing Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts; a free Home Run Derby watch party this evening at the Power & Light District; and a private, late night fundraiser at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum hosted by Philadelphia Phillies All Star Ryan Howard.

The Kauffman Center will open its doors today for a free open house to welcome visitors who want to learn more about the nation’s grandest performing arts center. Today, Kauffman Center guides will offer free one-hour presentations about the performing arts center, including its history, construction and unique design. These presentations will be held in Muriel Kauffman Theatre at10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Monday. Free reservations may be made at www.kauffmancenter.org.

Here is the highlight reel of the hottest All Star events for today, Monday, July 9:

  • MLB All-Star Fan Fest @ Bartle Hall (9 a.m.-8 p.m.)
  • Free FanatiKCs Trolley linked the Fan Fest to 8 Downtown districts and attractions (8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.)
  • Amateurs to All Stars exhibit @ Central Library (9 a.m.-9 p.m.)
  • Baseball Spectacular by Bazillion, Quixotic & Substream @ Municipal (9:30 p.m.)
  • GO: The Future of Mobile Payments @ Kauffman Center (2-4 p.m.)
  • Home Run Derby Watch Party @ Power & Light (7 p.m.)
  • KC All Star Big Band, featuring Bobby Watson @ Blue Room, American Jazz Museum (5-11 p.m.)
  • Little Big Town: Hot Country Nights concert @ Power & Light (9 p.m.)
  • They Were All Stars exhibit @ Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (9 a.m.-6 p.m.)
  • World War I All Stars exhibit @ WWI Museum (10 a.m.-5 p.m.)
  • And, oh yes, baseball:
  • MLB Home Run Derby @ the K (7 p.m.)

For more All Star action, visit www. Facebook.com/DowntownKansasCity or www.visitkc.com/allstar

Negro Leagues heroes to highlight day 3 of All Star fun

Day 3 of All Star mania in Downtown Kansas City promises to deliver an unforgettable day today.

Sunday events begin early with the 7:30 a.m. Major League Baseball All Star Game Charity 5K and Fun Run at the Power & Light District. An estimated 8,000 participants are lining up right now for the start of the run.

It’s a beautiful morning for the run — particularly as we emerge from the sweltering 105-degree heat that baked Kansas City on Saturday. We are due to get a huge break on the weather today, as a cool front is expected to keep high temperatures in the low 90s.

This should be a perfect day to get out and enjoy the many All Star events planned around Downtown today.

Highlights include a special Negro Leagues Baseball reunion from noon to 2 p.m. at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum; day 3 of the MLB Fan Fest at Bartle Hall from 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; and special culinary  events presented by two of Downtown’s churches.

Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral at 13th and Broadway, right across the street from Fan Fest at Bartle Hall, will host a free, family friendly community picnic frm 11:30 to 2 p.m. today. They will be serving signature hot dogs for the American League, National League, and Kansas City Royals. The event is free, but they will be accepting donations for hunger relief in Greater Kansas City and for the Cathedral’s Culinary Cornerstones job training.

Resurrection Downtown, 1522 McGee, will play host to a community All Star hot dog cookout at 6 p.m. today. The church, which will also feature a sermon “inspired by the diamond” at 9 a.m., 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. today.

Be sure to make Downtown your destination for All Star fun today. Here’s a rundown of the rest of today’s highlights:

Sunday, July 8

  • Free FanatiKCs Trolley from Bartle Hall to 7 Downtown attractions and neighborhoods (8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.)
  • Amateurs to All Stars exhibit @ Central Library (1-5 p.m.)
  • Art of the Machine Series @ City Market (10 a.m.-2 p.m.)
  • Baseball Spectacular by Bazillion, Quixotic & Substream @ Municipal Auditorium (9:30 p.m.)
  • Big KC’s Salute to Baseball by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce @ Kauffman Center (5:30 p.m.)
  • Death Cab for Cutie concert @ Grinders (7 p.m.)
  • Grand Slam Fan Jam w/ Flannigan’s Right Hook @ Barney Allis (11 a.m.-4 p.m.)
  • Hot Dog! All Star Extravaganza @ Resurrection Downtown (5 p.m.)
  • Poetic Notes @ Blue Room (8-11 p.m.)
  • They Were All Stars Reunion (noon-2 p.m.) and exhibit @ NLBM (9 a.m.-6 p.m.)
  • World War I All Stars exhibit @ WWI Museum (10 a.m.-5 p.m.)
  • And, oh yes, baseball:
  • All Star Futures Game + Legends & Celebrity Softball Game @ Kauffman Stadium (4 p.m.)
Enjoy the “cool” day in Downtown! For more All Star fun, visit www.Facebook.com/DowntownKansas City or www.visitkc.com/allstar.