UMKC Theatre slates public Town Hall


Save UMKC Theatre

A Public Town Hall as an Appreciation

Sunday, June 4 @ 6pm, Spencer Theatre, Olson PAC, UMKC Campus


KANSAS CITY, MO (May 26, 2017) – In response to pending budget cuts which threaten the very existence of UMKC Theatre, a public, community-wide Town Hall meeting has been scheduled for Sunday, June 4 at 6p at Spencer Theatre on the UMKC campus. Theatre faculty, students, alumni and supporters will be speaking to show support for UMKC Theatre and demonstrate to the UMKC administration the extensive community support for this program. Currently, severe budget cuts will mean the loss of four faculty positions for the coming school year, seriously jeopardizing its nationally prominent graduate MFA Theatre program.



Theodore Swetz, Patricia McIlrath Professor of Theatre Arts will serve as the Master of Ceremonies.  Speaking in support of UMKC Theatre will be:

Richard C. “Dick” Brown, AEA actor

John Rensenhouse, Kansas City Actors Theatre

Sidonie Garrett, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival

Cynthia Levin, Unicorn Theatre

Jeff Church, Coterie Theatre

Jessica Jensen, 2014 MFA Acting alumna

Marianne McKenzie, 2015 Theatre BA alumna, current MFA Acting student

Ricardo Khan, Tony Award-winning stage director and playwright, UMKC Theatre faculty

Dr. Karen Vorst, Professor of Economics, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences 2006-2011

Dr. Jennifer Martin, Hall Family Foundation Professor Emerita of Theatre Movement

Dr. Felicia Londré, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Theatre, UMKC

Theatre at UMKC has several significant accomplishments including:

  • the highest-nationally ranked program at UMKC
  • one of UMKC’s greatest community partners, leading the nation in the creation of co-productions for the MFA Theatre program with professional theatre, as well as sending numerous students into the theatre community each year with internships and residencies.  UMKC Theatre proclaims ‘The City is our Campus”
  • faculty and alumni who have created nearly all of the professional theatres in Kansas City
  • a program with a 36-year history of excellence that has received many years of outstanding community support and has received generous gifts from the Hall Family Foundation for four decades.

Since the 1970’s the primary mission of UMKC within the University of Missouri System has been to be the campus for the Performing Arts.  Performing Arts at UMKC consist of the Conservatory of Music and Dance and UMKC Theatre.  The Performing Arts are also front and center in UMKC’s stated mission and goals.  Only UMKC is allowed to offer the MFA degree in Theatre in Missouri. UMKC Theatre has recently been featured prominently in an article in the Hall Family Foundation 2016 Annual Report (April 2017) and in a feature article in KC Studio Magazine (May 2017).

The result of implementing these budget cuts will include:

  • Rescinding offers to incoming graduate students, which would result in losing accreditation through University/Resident Theatre Association and the National Association of Schools of Theatre.
  • Reducing promised stipend amounts of current graduate students.
  • Cutting planned student productions, some of which involve commissioned playwrights and professional stage directorswho have been working with students for over a year, and collaborations with community partners who have announced their seasons and budgeted accordingly.
  • Eliminating Visiting Professor Ricardo Khan, founder of the Tony Award winning African American company, Crossroads Theatre. Professor Khan is a key recruiter of MFA actors of color, and their only African American faculty member.
  • Eliminating other non tenure-track faculty members who are the only instructors of current students, graduate and undergraduate, in their field.
  • Loss of design, technical and dramaturgy support provided by UMKC Theatre for UMKC Conservatory opera and dance productions.
  • Loss of current graduate students who have turned down competing top national institutions to attend UMKC’s “Center of Excellence” which will no longer exist.


PLEASE NOTE: Parking for this event is free and is available on levels 5 & 6 only of the multi-level parking structure at 50th between Cherry and Oak (Park near the Northeast Tower and use the elevated crosswalk back to the PAC.)

UMKC Theatre has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top graduate theatre training programs in the country. Graduates from UMKC Theatre are invited to the most prestigious New York and Los Angeles professional reviews and auditions to exhibit their work and secure positions with national and international performing companies.  We build bridges. We assist the creative student in making the journey to becoming a creative professional. The practice of the department is to vigorously educate students in the many arts, crafts and traditions of theatre, and provide a basis for future careers in the creative industries. Our program offers intensive hands-on experience while at the same time fostering analytical and contextual skills. The practical experience of theatremaking occurs not only within the performing venues of UMKC, but also in professional theatres in Kansas City. Theatre is a passion. We seek it, we train for it and we embody it. UMKC Theatre is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST) and the University/Resident Theatre Association (U/RTA).

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students.  UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a three-part mission: visual and performing arts, health sciences, and urban engagement. UMKC has been designated as Missouri’s Campus for the Arts. More information is available online at

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