Joplin, Missouri – The official name of the planned joint development by Connect2Culture and George A. Spiva Center for the Arts was announced as the “Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex” (abbreviated name – “The Cornell Complex”) on Friday, June 15, 10:00 a.m. at George A. Spiva Center for the Arts (222 West 3rd St, Joplin, MO 64801). Harry M. Cornell, Jr., Joplin, committed the lead gift of $5 million to support funding of the Arts and Entertainment Center. This was the first major gift to be announced by Connect2Culture and George A. Spiva Center for the Arts for funding of the proposed $14 – $16 million project. Mr. Cornell has also committed to provide some ongoing funding over the next 15 years to support sustainability of the project.

Plans for the approximate 46,000 square foot Complex include a multi-functional 450-seat Performance Hall, an expanded home for George A. Spiva Center for the Arts, a 2,200 square foot Rooftop Terrace Venue, and an outdoor 1,500-person capacity Festival Plaza. The Complex is to be located on the present-day parking lot of Memorial Hall. [spacer height=”20px”]

Connect2Culture and the City of Joplin entered into a Memorandum of Understanding dated October 2, 2017 whereby the City would grant the entire parking lot in front of Memorial Hall to Connect2Culture provided it obtains by November 30, 2018 sufficient commitments for funding the construction project at a minimum of $14 million. The City continues with its efforts to finalize the land swap for the southwest corner of the Memorial Hall parking lot with the State of Missouri as evidenced by the recent construction activity at the site north of the present Missouri Career Center. Additionally, the City is taking steps to pursue placement of Memorial Hall on the National Register of Historic Places, with the most recent action being the City Council placing a local landmark designation upon Memorial Hall.

Harry M. Cornell, Jr., chairman emeritus of Leggett & Platt, Incorporated, Carthage, Missouri, transformed a small regional company founded in 1883 into a Fortune 500 manufacturing giant traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The grandson of a founder of Leggett & Platt, Cornell joined the company in sales in 1950 and advanced through the ranks from high school summers spent unloading rail cars to his post-college years as a traveling salesman. He excelled in his work as a plant manager in Ennis, Texas and his leadership skills eventually led him to become president and chief executive officer in 1960. During the next 52 years, he transformed Leggett & Platt from five plants and $7 million in annual sales into a $4 billion company with 130 plants in 18 countries. Leggett & Platt is a world leader in manufacturing a diverse group of products found throughout the home, the office, and in automobiles. The company employs nearly 19,000 around the globe. In 2014, Cornell was inducted into the American Furniture Hall of Fame as an Industry Fellow. In 2016, the world headquarters of Leggett & Platt was dedicated as the Cornell Campus to honor his role in the success of Leggett & Platt. He was recently honored to receive the 2018 Lifetime Bedding Achievement Award as a Retail Giant of Bedding by Furniture Today, the business newspaper of the furniture industry.

Connect2Culture and Spiva revealed renderings of The Cornell Complex, along with a site plan for the entire city block of the planned development. Nearly $8.6 million in commitments or actual contributions have been received towards The Cornell Complex during the silent portion of the joint Capital Campaign – this number includes the lead gift of $5 million that was announced December 14, 2017. Donor names committing to the nearly $3.6 million in additional funding will be announced at a later date. Naming rights to the Performance Hall and the Main Spiva Galleries have been reserved with these commitments.

With this announcement, the joint Capital Campaign is now public. Both organizations are seeking to raise sufficient commitments to comply with the MOU in place with the City. Contacts with individuals, businesses, and foundations engaged in the silent portion of the Capital Campaign are ongoing.

Vision for the Center: 

The vision of The Cornell Complex is to educate, enlighten, and entertain, while attracting more people and activities to downtown Joplin. The Complex will: strengthen the cultural opportunities in our city and region; bring visual and performing artists from across the U.S. and world to Joplin; showcase and nurture the region’s creativity through visual and performing arts; provide world-class amenities; drive cultural tourism; directly benefit retailers, restaurants, and other businesses; and generate new sales tax revenue for the City of Joplin. The Cornell Complex will enrich the cultural heart of our city, inspiring people to live, work, play, and stay in Joplin.

The creatively designed Cornell Complex will support a myriad of functions ranging from concerts, theater productions, and ballet performances to world-class visual arts exhibitions through Spiva to corporate/community events, seminars, ceremonies, receptions, and celebrations. Connect2Culture plans to present programming by nationally recognized artists and entertainers that is not offered by other organizations. Local performing arts organizations such as Pro Musica, Heartland Opera Theatre, Midwest Regional Ballet, and Missouri Southern State University symphony, jazz, and choral groups will have an opportunity to utilize the venue to support their program development. Finally, The Cornell Complex will create synergies that will have a profound impact on Joplin’s downtown revitalization, our community’s arts and cultural organizations, and the quality of life, economic development and education in our region.

The Process:

Connect2Culture is unlike any organization in the Joplin area – respected community arts agency, the visionary organization that has led The Cornell Complex initiative, and a performing arts presenter. It is a not-for-profit arts organization purposed to enhance community through culture. It continues to grow audiences and develop resources that strengthen the arts, culture, and entertainment in the City and strives to “ignite a passion for the arts, culture, and entertainment in Joplin, MO.”

George A. Spiva Center for the Arts’ mission is to celebrate the creative experience. Its vision is to be a community catalyst, joining culture, community, education, business, and the arts as one, endeavoring to be a model for art centers across the nation. Originally incorporated as the Ozark Artists Guild, George A. Spiva Center for the Arts has presented visual arts experiences to the four-state region since 1947. George A. Spiva was a businessman, philanthropist, and lover of the arts who helped establish Joplin’s first art center in 1958. Founded on the belief that opportunities in the arts should be available to all, the regional Center continues to flourish through the generosity of members, friends, corporate and business support, and those who share that vision. First located in the Zelleken House at 4th & Sergeant, Spiva moved in 1967 to the campus of Missouri Southern State University before relocating to its current home in the historic Cosgrove Building at 3rd and Wall in downtown Joplin in 1996.

Connect2Culture has received professional support throughout Phases I and II leading to this Phase III capital campaign juncture. In 2010, Connect2Culture engaged Halsey and Alice North of The North Group Inc. www.northgroup.biz, known for their successful work with nonprofit arts organizations nationwide, including the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The North Group continues to work with Connect2Culture today to ensure the success of the development of The Cornell Complex. Since 2010, Connect2Culture has also worked with nationally and internationally recognized New York architects DLR Group/Westlake Reed Leskosky www.wrldesign.com, and our highly respected, experienced local architects Corner Greer & Associates http://www.cornergreer.com on the project.

To discuss donations to the project and naming opportunities, interested donors can contact Clifford Wert, (417) 439-0385 or Sharon Beshore, (417) 437-1772.

The Cornell Complex Gift Form:
Private citizens with a passion for future generations have led this effort thus far! Now is the time to invest in Joplin’s future! Click here to download The Cornell Complex Gift Form.

Downtown Parking Study:

Corner Greer & Associates went above-and-beyond creating this thorough “Downtown Parking Study.” There is a total of 932 existing parking spots (767 parking spots + ~165 street parking) within a 1 block radius of The Cornell Complex. There are a total of 1,625 parking spots within a 2 block radius. Currently, the Memorial Hall parking lot holds ~228 spots. Included in the study are comparisons from parking lots of local establishments, such as: Walmart, Mercy Hospital Joplin, Downstream Casino, and Northpark Mall.