The failure of a fund drive to finance an addition to the Lied Center of Kansas is disappointing, but the mission of the performing arts center will remain as vital as ever.
Kansas University officials decided to shelve expansion plans last week after the university failed to meet the deadline for a $7.5 million matching grant from the Lied Foundation of Las Vegas. The foundation, which donated $10 million to build the existing center, agreed to give the additional money if the university raised an equal amount by June 30. The money would have financed the construction of an 800-seat auditorium that would provide a more intimate setting for chamber music, lectures and other events.
With the intense competition for charitable dollars, the KU Endowment Association was able to raise about $2 million, but couldn't meet the deadline. The good news is that the Lied Foundation and its lone trustee, Christina Hixson, have agreed to donate $5 million to fund a scholarship program at KU. The details of the program haven't been worked out, but it's likely the project will be aimed at Hixson's continuing goal to make the arts accessible to everyone, regardless of their income or education level or location. Hixson also stresses the Lied Center should serve the entire region and not be a facility just for KU or Lawrence.
The additional auditorium would have been a great addition to the Lied Center, but now apparently wasn't the right time for such a project. The center nonetheless remains one of this community's true gems and we all should be grateful for the continued support provided by Hixson and the Lied Foundation.