The arts culture in Joplin took a big step forward Monday with the official launching of the Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, a new visual and performing arts center to be built on the parking lot of Memorial Hall.
The complex will house Connect2Culture and Spiva Center for the Arts, the latter of which will feature three galleries. It also will hold a 450-seat indoor performance hall, outdoor festival plaza amphitheater with a capacity of 1,500 people and 2,200-square-foot rooftop terrace.
Proponents of the project believe the Cornell Complex will make Joplin a more culturally rich and vibrant community that can attract new residents, and we agree. Think of the times you’ve left Joplin to see a touring show or art exhibit — maybe you’ve headed to Springfield, Northwest Arkansas, even Kansas City and St. Louis to catch attractions. Joplin is now better poised to capture some of them itself, creating the potential to introduce tens of thousands of people to a new artist, band or theater troupe.
The committee of residents who led the fundraising campaign for the project is to be commended for meeting its minimum goal and collecting private donations for the project. Virtually all of the $14.6 million in donations are from local businesses and individuals, committee members said. What a terrific badge of honor that is — knowing that you’re building something that has the support of your community.
But the fundraising isn’t over yet. Committee members have their eye on $16 million, and they’ve introduced a new crowdfunding option for those who want to contribute something to the project but can’t commit to amounts of at least four figures. Check it out at cfozarks.org/cornellcomplex.
The complex’s foundations rest on its major donors; after all, its namesake, Harry M. Cornell Jr., gave $5 million to get the project off the ground. But it will be finished and fine-tuned because of donations of all sizes from people of all ages, genders and backgrounds.
Thanks to the donors, large and small, who are making the Cornell Complex possible. We can’t wait to see how this will transform Joplin.