Joplin’s Future Home for the Arts…

The vision

The Vision of The Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex (The Cornell Complex) is to educate, enlighten, and entertain, while attracting more people and activities to downtown Joplin.

The Cornell 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

  • 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 future home of Connect2Culture and Spiva Center for the Arts.


The Cornell Complex will consist of:

  • A 46,000 square foot building with Spiva Center for the Arts occupying approximately 30%, Connect2Culture approximately 34%, and all shared, outdoor, and circulation spaces totaling approximately 36%.

  • A 450-seat indoor multipurpose Performance Hall with versatile seating configuration and a mainstage with state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems. The Performance Hall will be perfect for community and touring performances, film screenings, lectures, and corporate/community presentations and meetings.

  • A new home for Spiva Center for the Arts, the region’s premier visual arts destination, increasing its capacity for education, outreach, and national museum quality exhibits.

  • A home for Connect2Culture, Joplin’s community arts agency and a performing arts presenter.

  • An outdoor Festival Plaza with 1,500-person capacity featuring an amphitheater with covered stage and canopy area perfect for concerts, plays, film festivals, and other performances.

  • A stunning, 2,200 square foot rooftop terrace venue with festive lighting will accommodate intimate performances, weddings, and other gatherings.

  • Community meeting and hospitality spaces for private events, from corporate luncheons to civic meetings and community celebrations.

  • A welcoming and spacious lobby, shared by both organizations.

  • A catering and warming kitchen able to service banquets, receptions, and small dinners.

  • A variety of shared spaces, such as arts offices, meeting rooms, service facilities, and storage spaces for related arts organizations.


First contemplated site – Union Depot 2010

First contemplated site – Union Depot 2010

Nearly 10 years ago, this grassroots initiative began when members of the Joplin community gathered to address a need for a visual and performing arts center to serve as an anchor for downtown Joplin. Connect2Culture was created to make this Center a reality. A Phase I professional feasibility study was completed December 2010.

Plans were temporarily put on hold due to the May 22, 2011, EF-5 tornado that devastated the city. Through recovery, Joplin came back even stronger and focus intensified to realize the Center. A Phase II professional feasibility study was completed September 2016.

Possible addition to Joplin High School – 2014

Possible addition to Joplin High School – 2014

The Phase III capital campaign is now underway. Private citizens with a passion for future generations have led this effort. Now is the time to invest in Joplin’s future!

Final site in front of Memorial Hall – 2018

Final site in front of Memorial Hall – 2018

Where are we now?

Through a public-private partnership, a Memorandum of Understanding is in place between Connect2Culture and the City of Joplin for development. Provided sufficient financial commitments are obtained to fund the construction budget, the city will donate the entire parking lot in front of Memorial Hall for the Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex.

Harry M. Cornell, Jr. Lead Gift Announcement

Harry M. Cornell, Jr. Lead Gift Announcement

On June 3, 2019, Connect2Culture announced its fulfillment of the MOU and its current total in private commitments totaling $14,658,216 from 192 individuals and businesses at The Cornell Complex Launch Party. Actual cash received amounting to $5,132,783 was also announced.

We are more than halfway to the $16 million goal. Please join us in building a new cultural gem for Joplin!


Spiva Center for the Arts is an independent, non-profit 501(c)(3) regional arts and education center tracing its roots to the Ozark Artists Guild formed in 1948. Over the last dozen years it has become the area’s “anchor” institution for the arts.

Currently located in the historic Cosgrove Building downtown, Spiva has three galleries, a gift shop, classrooms, and a library/public meeting room.

Annually, Spiva:

  • offers visual arts experiences to 12,000+ patrons, has 600+ members, and benefits  from 200+ volunteers who contribute 2,400+ volunteer hours

  • provides art education opportunities to 1,000+ students from pre-school to senior citizens and annually hosts a special program for 1,600+ area third graders

Currently, Spiva:

  • does not meet national American Alliance of Museums (AAM) standards necessary to host national touring exhibits

  • cannot attain AAM accreditation without significant, costly system upgrades

  • lacks a loading dock, climate controlled storage for exhibits on arrival and departure, and sufficient door heights/width

what is connect2culture?

Connect2Culture (C2C) is a non-profit arts organization founded in 2009. C2C will manage the Performance Hall, the Festival Plaza, and Rooftop Terrace within The Cornell Complex, and host annual performances.

C2C is unlike any organization in the Joplin area:

  • A respected community arts agency, supporting and promoting all arts and cultural activity in the city with a goal of increasing involvement and growing audience for all

  • A visionary organization leading The Cornell Complex initiative, never ceasing to dream big for Joplin’s arts and cultural future

  • A performing arts presenter since 2017, bringing a variety of national touring performers to Joplin

C2C continues to grow audiences and develop resources to strengthen the arts, culture, and entertainment in the city.

C2C’s mission is to ignite a passion for the arts, culture, and entertainment.


As designed, The Cornell Complex will:

  • Create a front door to downtown Joplin and a community gathering place

  • Provide state-of-the-art spaces for world-class visual art exhibitions and classes, including Main Galleries, a Regional Gallery, and a Permanent Collection Gallery

  • Provide three versatile venues for performing arts ranging from “Opry to Opera” – the Performance Hall, outdoor Festival Plaza featuring an amphitheater, and Rooftop Terrace

  • Become a transformative destination that will develop and attract new audiences in Joplin, spurring cultural tourism from the Four-State region and beyond

  • Create a broad range of opportunities for regional businesses, civic groups, schools, churches, hospitals, and educational organizations to develop cooperative programs for meetings, special events, fundraisers, speaking engagements, award shows, exhibits, performances, workshops, services, graduations, weddings, and other celebrations

  • Offer professionally hosted visual and performing arts events for guests and clients

Potential collaborators for C2C and Spiva:

New opportunities for programming:

  • A broad variety of music, theater, dance, comedy, film, concerts, and lectures in an intimate setting

  • International, national, regional, and permanent collection exhibits in museum-quality galleries

  • Exhibit-related programs such as artist talks and panels

  • Piano series and recitals

  • Family-friendly performances and children’s theater

  • Corporate/community events, seminars, ceremonies, banquets, weddings, receptions, and celebrations

  • Touring performers and local productions


Harry M. Cornell, Jr.

Harry M. Cornell, Jr., Joplin, committed the lead gift of $5 million to support funding of the Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex in downtown Joplin on Thursday, December 14, 2017. The $5 million donation included the naming rights for the project and kicked off the capital campaign. Mr. Cornell has also committed to provide some ongoing funding over the next 15 years to support sustainability of the project.

About Harry M. Cornell, Jr.:

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.

Accessibility to the arts and cultural experiences in a community is an important asset to create a better quality of life, support economic development, and provide educational opportunity for our children and our citizens. I am confident that this gift will have an impact on making the arts more accessible. I encourage other individuals and business leaders in our area to step forward to answer the call for support.
— Harry M. Cornell, Jr.

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.


Corner Greer & Associates, one-half of our architectural team, went above-and-beyond creating a 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.