Laura Spencer

Reporter

Laura Spencer caught the radio bug more than a decade ago when she was asked to read a newscast on the air on her first day volunteering for KOOP, the community radio station in Austin, Texas. 

After moving home to Kansas City, she learned the fine art of editing reel-to-reel tape as an intern and graduate assistant with the nationally syndicated literary program New Letters on the Air. Since 2001, she's focused her efforts on writing and producing feature stories as KCUR's Arts Reporter. 

In 2011, Laura was one of 21 journalists selected for USC Annenberg’s seventh National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater. She's received awards from the Associated Press, Kansas City Art Institute (Excellence in Visual Art and Education), Kansas City Association of Black Journalists, Missouri Broadcasters Association, Radio-Television News Directors Association (regional Edward R. Murrow Award) and Society for Professional Journalists. 

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Opera/Performance
10:16 am
Tue January 25, 2011

Lyric Opera Announces Season in Kauffman Center

The Lyric Opera of Kansas City, one of the three resident companies at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, has announced its 2011-2012 season, its first in the new venue. As KCUR's Laura Spencer reports, the announcement began with a twist.

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Music
9:51 am
Tue January 25, 2011

Kansas Native Samuel Ramey on Roots and Villainy

Samuel Ramey in a guest appearance on the PBS show, "Sesame Street."

The Lyric Opera of Kansas City has announced its inaugural season in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Highlights include the Lyric debut of John Adams' "Nixon in China" and a new production of Puccini's "Turandot" with bass Samuel Ramey as Timor.

Kansas City, Mo. – A native of Kansas, Samuel Ramey is considered the most recorded bass in history, with more than 80 recordings and three Grammy awards, as well as a guest appearance on Sesame Street.

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Books
10:16 am
Thu January 20, 2011

UMKC Book Robot Inspires Art

The book robot, the automatic retrieval system for much of the collection of the Miller Nichols Library on the campus of UMKC, has inspired a flurry of artistic activity, from robot dances to art installations.

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Theater/Performance
9:41 am
Fri January 14, 2011

Kansas City Symphony Announces First Season in the Kauffman Center

A view of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts from the South Lobby Atrium of the Bartle Hall Grand Ballroom.
photo: Laura Spencer/KCUR

The Kansas City Symphony today announced its 2011-2012 season, its inaugural season in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City Symphony today announced its 2011-2012 season, its inaugural season in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

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Government
8:26 am
Thu January 13, 2011

Governor Brownback Proposes Phasing Out Funding for the Arts

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback released his proposed budget Thursday, January 13, 2010 for the next fiscal year. It calls for deep cuts, including phasing out state funding for the arts. If approved, Kansas would be the first state to convert its arts agency into a nonprofit. KCUR's Laura Spencer caught up with Kansas Arts Commission Executive Director Llewellyn Crain.

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Music
8:44 am
Thu December 30, 2010

The Wires LIVE in the Studio

Local alternative strings duo serenades Central Standard.

 

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Visual Arts
1:13 pm
Wed December 29, 2010

Artist Mark Cowardin Explores Impact of Overconsumption

"In & Out" by Mark Cowardin

Global environmental concerns, like pollution, water sustainability, and dependence on oil are all issues that have been percolating for artist Mark Cowardin over the past decade. For Cowardin, the delicate balance between humans and nature is something he grapples with each day.

Kansas City, MO – For Mark Cowardin, the delicate balance between humans and nature is something he grapples with each day.

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KCUR News
8:18 pm
Thu December 23, 2010

Secret Santa Pays Tribute to Grandview Friend

In Grandview, Mo., Secret Santa stamped the $100 bills with the name Bob Beckers, past mayor and chief of police, who died in August.
photo: Laura Spencer/KCUR

Grandview, MO – As many children await the arrival of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, Kansas City's Secret Santa has already been busy. He's made seven "sleigh rides," and some of his elves have brought that total up to more than a dozen from coast to coast. It's a tradition stretching back more than 30 years to Larry Stewart, who gave out hundred dollar bills to strangers, those in need, every December.

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Performance
2:53 pm
Fri December 17, 2010

Arts and Sports Communities Teaming Up

Mike Hill's artwork visualizing a baseball season in the exhibition "You're Such a Good Sport."
photo: courtesy of curator Michael Schonhoff

It's often viewed as a choice between arts and sports. But it doesn't have to be. On a recent visit to Kansas City, here's what National Endowment for the Arts Chair Rocco Landesman, a Broadway producer who's owned race horses and minor league baseball teams, had to say about it. Landesman: "There's no reason you can't love sports and art both - and I do."

Kansas City, MO – As KCUR's Laura Spencer reports, there are some growing connections between the local arts and sports communities.

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Visual Arts
2:16 pm
Fri December 17, 2010

WEB EXTRA: NEA Chair Rocco Landesman

Rocco Landesman, Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts, keynote speaker of the Downtown Council's annual luncheon, December 10, 2010
photo: Laura Spencer/KCUR

Rocco Landesman, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, was the keynote speaker for the Downtown Council's annual luncheon on December 10, 2010. Landesman's talk focused on the impact of the arts on revitalization and urban development.

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Performance
11:18 am
Fri December 10, 2010

Broadway Across America and Theater League Combine Broadway Series

In 2006, the Kansas City City Council awarded a contract to Broadway Across America - instead of Kansas City-based Theater League - to present Broadway shows in the Music Hall. Today the two organizations announced they've teamed up to present a five-show "Kansas City Best of Broadway Series."

Kansas City, MO – There will be two shows at the Music Hall, and three in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, as part of its inaugural 2011 - 2012 season.

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Theater/Performance
12:02 pm
Thu December 9, 2010

Angel Makes Debut in "The Nutcracker"

Grace Hooks attends classes on Saturday mornings at the Kansas City Ballet. This year marks her first as an angel in "The Nutcracker."
photo: Laura Spencer/KCUR

This year marks the Kansas City Ballet's 38th annual production of "The Nutcracker." It's one of the largest in the region, with 200 students from the ballet's school, ranging in age from 7 to 18, and the more than 20 dancers in the company.

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City Ballet, in its school and in its company, reflects diversity. It's also making efforts to expand its student population to be more inclusive, as KCUR's Laura Spencer reports.

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Visual Arts
12:14 pm
Fri December 3, 2010

Archie Scott Gobber's "SUPER POWER"

Archie Scott Gobber,"...Of My Own," 2010. enamel on canvas, 84 X 70 in.
courtesy of Dolphin Gallery

Archie Scott Gobber's work engages viewers as a partner in an ongoing dialogue. "Super Power" marks Gobber's first solo at the Dolphin since the gallery moved from the Crossroads to the West Bottoms.

Kansas City, MO – Archie Scott Gobber again takes a look at popular culture and politics, examining stark economic realities with gentle wit.

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Visual Arts
1:42 pm
Wed November 24, 2010

Kansas Sculptor Arlie Regier's Stainless Steel Creations

A close-up of Arlie Regier's "Hemisphere."
photos: Laura Spencer/KCUR

Stainless steel is an elegant medium. It's an alloy of metals, including chromium and nickel. A local master of the material says he's hanging up his hat, at least for now.

Kansas City, MO – Stainless steel is an elegant medium. It's an alloy of metals, including chromium and nickel. A local master of the material says he's hanging up his hat, at least for now.

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KCUR Arts
10:53 am
Thu November 18, 2010

Reaching Out to Uninsured Artists

Because many artists are self-employed or work jobs that don't provide insurance, they often fall through the cracks when it comes to health care.

Kansas City, MO – Because many artists are self-employed or work jobs that don't provide insurance, they often fall through the cracks when it comes to health care. With the recent overhaul in the nation's health care system, by 2014, most Americans are required to have health insurance or face a fine. A national organization has a goal of insuring every artist, as KCUR's Laura Spencer reports.

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Music
3:05 pm
Wed November 10, 2010

Soprano Brenda Harris on Preparing for Bellini's "Norma"

Brenda Harris, as Norma, and the company in Lyric Opera of Kansas City's production of "Norma."
photos: Karen Almond

For the first time in its history, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City is presenting Bellini's tragic bel canto opera "Norma." It's the story of a woman who betrays her sacred vows for love; she's then betrayed by her lover's infidelity.

Kansas City, MO – Before a recent rehearsal, KCUR's Laura Spencer met up with soprano Brenda Harris who's tackling the title role of Norma, one that's been described as both "grueling" and "vocally tortuous."

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Theater/Performance
11:32 am
Tue November 9, 2010

Kansas City Ballet Announces Season in Kauffman Center

The Kansas City Ballet presents "Tom Sawyer - A Ballet in Three Acts" in its inaugural season at the Kauffman Center.
courtesy of the Kansas City Ballet

The Kansas City Ballet is the first of the resident companies to announce its inaugural season at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

Kansas City, MO – When the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts opens in 2011, its three resident companies will include the Kansas City Symphony, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and the Kansas City Ballet.

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Visual Arts
12:57 pm
Fri November 5, 2010

Europeans Viewed "Through African Eyes" at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Ben Kane Kwei Sowah (Ghanaian). Fantasy Coffin (Mercedes Benz), 1996. Wood, glass, metal, paint. National Museum of Funeral History, Houston

For more than 500 years, African cultures have responded to European contact with a range of emotions - from admiration to resentment.

Kansas City, MO – An exhibition at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, "Through African Eyes," tells the story from the African point of view, through more than 90 artworks: bronze sculptures, photographs, wooden masks, paintings, and other objects made of ivory, metal and textiles. KCUR's Laura Spencer reports.

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Story Corps
12:12 pm
Fri November 5, 2010

StoryCorps in KC: Jeanie Schiefelbusch and Richard Schiefelbusch

Jeanie Schiefelbusch brought her father, Richard \"Dick\" Schiefelbusch

Kansas City, MO – At StoryCorps recording booths across the country, friends and loved ones interview each other about their lives. Each Tuesday during Morning Edition, we'll bring you a story from the MobileBooth in Kansas City.

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KCUR Arts
12:28 pm
Fri October 29, 2010

Paul Mesner Puppets Appeals To Children And Adults

Paul Mesner talks to puppeteer Spencer Lott before a "Frankenstein" rehearsal.
photo: Laura Spencer/KCUR

For more than two decades in Kansas City, Paul Mesner has presented puppet shows, primarily for children. Many of the productions are based on classic fairy tales and modern children's literature, but with enough humor and sarcasm to also appeal to adults.

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KCUR Arts
3:44 pm
Tue October 26, 2010

Architectural Aspects Of Clay At Sherry Leedy

Hungarian Herend Porcelain, Vessel FFF 2009 8.75"x 8"
George Timock

Ceramic artwork is on display across Kansas City. Three installations at the H&R Block Artspace, the Belger Arts Center, and Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art, celebrate the Kansas City Art Institute's 125th anniversary with work by faculty, students and alumni of the renowned ceramics department.

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Story Corps
2:34 pm
Mon October 18, 2010

StoryCorps in KC: Stephanie Leedy and Jim Leedy

Stephanie Leedy and Jim Leedy, recorded in the StoryCorps MobileBooth in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas City, MO – At StoryCorps recording booths across the country, friends and loved ones interview each other about their lives. Each Tuesday during Morning Edition, we'll bring you a story from the MobileBooth in Kansas City.

Stephanie Leedy, brought her father, Jim Leedy, an artist and retired Kansas City Art Institute sculpture professor who turns 80 next month. They talked about staying young, and what it was like for Stephanie to grow up with an artist for a father.

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KCUR Arts
12:17 pm
Fri October 15, 2010

"Clare Twomey: Forever" At The Nelson-Atkins Museum Of Art

An important cup in the Burnap Collection: a salt-glazed stoneware vessel for caudle, a wine, milks, and spice drink. It's the earliest-known dated piece of English salt-glazed stoneware.
Courtesy of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

British ceramic artist Clare Twomey's interactive installations have been known to "produce feelings of surprise, wonder, joy, and introspection."

Kansas City, MO – Twomey's new exhibition, "Forever," at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, features 1,345 objects, authored by the artist; it's an interpretation of an 18th-century salt-glazed stoneware caudle cup from the Museum's Burnap Collection of English Pottery. There's also an interactive dimension: visitors can apply to be the owner of one of the cups.

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KCUR Arts
2:24 pm
Thu October 14, 2010

Kauffman Center Announces Plans For Inaugural Weekend

The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts has announced its opening weekend plans for September 16 - 18, 2011.

Kansas City, MO – Opera singer Placido Domingo and violinist Itzkak Perlman will headline the inauguration of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts 1,600 seat Helzberg Hall and the 1,800 seat Muriel Kauffman Theatre. The resident companies - the Kansas City Symphony, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and the Kansas City Ballet will also perform during the opening festivities.

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KCUR Arts
10:06 am
Wed October 13, 2010

New Public Art Unveiled In Downtown Kansas City

Kemper Museum founder, Crosby Kemper, leans in for a closer look at Marc Swanson's "Descent of Civilization (Bison Memorial)" 2010, 9th and Broadway, KCMO
photo: Laura Spencer/KCUR

A new sculpture, "Descent of Civilization (Bison Memorial)" was unveiled Wednesday morning at the corner of 9th and Broadway in downtown Kansas City. The work pays tribute to the American buffalo or bison of the American West.

Kansas City, MO – Brooklyn-based artist Marc Swanson has been described as a social provocateur and alchemist.

Many of Swanson's works combine animal forms with light from mirrors or cut glass. His sculpture, a towering bronze skeleton called "Descent of Civilization (Bison Memorial)" was inspired by a photograph.

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Music
3:29 pm
Thu October 7, 2010

Kansas City Symphony Opens Classical Season

Baltimore-based composer Jonathan Leshnoff

The Kansas City Symphony opens its classical season this weekend featuring new music written as a "curtain-raiser" by a gifted American composer and a violinist, a former child prodigy, who won her first Grammy at 18, and her second, about a decade later, in 2008.

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KCUR Arts
9:01 am
Thu September 30, 2010

Artist Inspired By Visits To Remote Village In Mountains Of Peru

Artist Ana Maria Hernando

Argentinian-born artist Ana Maria Hernando's paintings, drawings, and prints layer designs, like a lacy mantilla worn in church, with images of plants and insects.

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KCUR Arts
12:57 pm
Wed September 29, 2010

WEB EXTRA: Ana Maria Hernando Reads: "Sin Planes (No Plans)"

Artist Ana Maria Hernando

Ana Maria Hernando is a multimedia artist; she's also a poet. Here, Hernando reads a poem called "Sin Planes (No Plans)."

"Sin Planes (No Planes)" read by artist/poet Ana Maria Hernando

Kansas City, MO –

Excerpt from "Sine Planes (No Plans)"

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KCUR Arts
8:00 am
Thu September 23, 2010

"Thinking Photography" Explores Photography Legacy At KCAI

As a nod to the Kansas City Art Institute's 125th anniversary, an exhibition at the Nelson-Atkins Museum explores the school's photographic legacy from the 1960s to the present. "Thinking Photography: Five Decades at the Kansas City Art Institute" features works by nearly 30 notable KCAI alumni, including Joe Deal, Robert ParkeHarrison, and Mark Osterman.

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Story Corps
8:21 pm
Mon September 20, 2010

StoryCorps in KC: Ross and Kelly Thompson

Ross Thompson and Kelly Thompson, StoryCorps MobileBooth, Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas City, MO – At StoryCorps recording booths across the country, friends and loved ones interview each other about their lives. Each Tuesday during Morning Edition, we'll bring you a story from the MobileBooth in Kansas City.

Read more

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