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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Theater/Performance
8:03 am
Wed October 14, 2009

Dancing with a Tent-like Skirt Provides Challenges

Choreographer Jessica Lang and the Kansas City Ballet's Ballet Master James Jordan during a rehearsal of Splendid Isolation III.
photo: Laura Spencer/KCUR

Contemporary choreographer Jessica Lang's works have been described as passionate with almost tangible emotions in performance. Lang's pas de deux, or dance for two, called "Splendid Isolation III" is included in the Kansas City Ballet's fall program.

Kansas City, MO – Some might argue there's a third character: a long white skirt. KCUR's Laura Spencer visited a rehearsal at the Ballet studios recently and provides this preview.

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KCUR News
2:04 pm
Fri October 9, 2009

Kansas City Nonprofits Get Grants

Kansas City, MO – Two Kansas City nonprofits have been recognized for their efforts to address critical social issues. They'll receive $400,000 from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation's Neighborhood Excellence Initiative.

Communities Creating Opportunity provides tools and training to tackle issues like health care, housing, and economics. And the Charlotte Street Foundation supports the local arts community with annual cash awards, free studio spaces, and other opportunities.

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Visual Arts/Design
12:24 pm
Tue October 6, 2009

New Season of "Craft in America" includes Kansas City

KCAI Ceramics Chair Cary Esser (left) is featured in the latest installment of "Craft in America."

According to Carol Sauvion, the creator and co-executive producer of the award-winning PBS series, "Craft in America," the crafting climate - from pottery to beadworking to blacksmithing - is stronger than ever.

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KCUR News
1:23 pm
Fri October 2, 2009

Rocket Grants To Help Project Lift Off

Kansas City, MO – Kansas City's Charlotte Street Foundation and the Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence are collaborating on a new program called Rocket Grants. With help from a two-year grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, $40,000 in direct support will be provided each year for innovative and experimental arts projects.

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Theater/Performance
8:59 am
Fri September 18, 2009

New Home for the Kansas City Ballet: Power House Renovations Underway

photo: courtesy of the Kansas City Ballet

Renovations are underway for something the Kansas City Ballet, in its 52-year history, has never had: a permanent home.

Kansas City, MO – The Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity, slated to open in 2011, will be located in the Union Station Power House building. The historic power plant will house the Ballet's school and seven studios.

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KCUR News
3:10 pm
Wed September 16, 2009

Work Begins On New Home For Kansas City Ballet

Kansas City Ballet dancers at the Union Station Power House building.
photo: courtesy of the Kansas City Ballet

Kansas City, MO – Kansas City Ballet officials announced Wednesday that renovations are underway at the new permanent home for the company.

The Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity, slated to open in 2011, will be located in the Union Station Power House building. The historic 1914 power plant will house the Ballet's school and seven studios, including one that doubles as a 180-seat theater.

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Visual Arts
1:31 pm
Thu July 2, 2009

Forty-Year Artistic Friendship Provides Motivation

Louis Copt (left) and Jim Brothers (right) stand next to a bust-in-progress of Louis.
photo: Laura Spencer, KCUR

Much has been written about tumultuous relationships between artists - think Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera or Van Gogh and Gauguin. But often relationships between artists are much more amiable.

Lewis Copt and Jim Brothers

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Visual Arts
1:59 pm
Fri June 5, 2009

Byron Cohen Presents Works from China Through the Eyes of a Child

Deng Wushu, Through the Eyes of a Child No. 1, 2008, oil on canvas, 7?3? x 9?10?

Sales of Chinese-made clothes, electronics and toys have fallen off a cliff in the last couple of years. But the global recession has only cooled the red-hot Chinese art market. Last year, 11 of the world's top 20 best-selling artists were Chinese.

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Fashion
12:48 pm
Thu June 4, 2009

West 18th Street Fashion Show Explores the Theme of Space

The essence of a supernova. Galaxies, goddesses, and art nouveau. The light and pressure of the Big Bang. These are just a few of the inspirations from the 18 collections, by established and emerging designers, that will be featured in the 9th annual West 18th Street Fashion show. This year's theme: Summer in Space.

Kansas City, MO – West 18th Street Fashion Show
Summer in Space
Saturday, June 6, 8:00pm
Crossroads Arts District
West 18th Street, between Wyandotte and Baltimore

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Theater/Performance
12:47 pm
Thu June 4, 2009

Lively Collaboration Mixes Dance and Music

Elizabeth Suh Lane, Jennifer Owen
photos: Charles Stonewall

Baroque music has been described as expressing order, but always lively and tuneful. The musical period, roughly from 1600 to 1750, includes notable composers like Bach and Vivaldi.

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Music
11:21 am
Wed June 3, 2009

Gamelan Creates Community of Performers

photo courtesy of Gamelan Genta Kasturi

Gamelan, the orchestral music of Indonesia, is praised for its color, rhythmic structure and lyrical melodies. And it's an important part of parades, festivals, and ceremonies.

Kansas City, MO – The largest Balinese ensemble in North America, Gamelan Genta Kasturi, is based in Kansas City, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

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KCUR News
5:22 pm
Mon June 1, 2009

Charlotte Street Foundation Announces 2009 Generative Performing Artist Awards Fellows

Kansas City, MO – A panel of arts professionals chose two Kansas City artists, out of a pool of nearly 30 nominees, as this year's Charlotte Street Generative Performing Artists: poet Glenn North and choreographer and dancer Tiffany Sisemore. Each will receive unrestricted cash grants of $5000.

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Theater/Performance
2:16 pm
Mon June 1, 2009

Charlotte Street Foundation Announces 2009 Generative Performing Artist Awards Fellows

Poet Glenn North

A panel of arts professionals chose two Kansas City artists as this year's Charlotte Street Generative Performing Artists: poet Glenn North and choreographer and dancer Tiffany Sisemore. Each will receive unrestricted cash grants of $5000.

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Theater/Performance
8:16 am
Fri May 15, 2009

Dance Celebrates Kansas City Flavor

props for "Gates Bar-B-Que Suite"
photo: Laura Spencer, KCUR

A new dance piece, titled "Gates Bar-B-Que Suite," pays tribute to a Kansas City barbecue restaurant.

Kansas City, MO – A new dance piece pays tribute to a Kansas City barbecue restaurant. Titled "Gates Bar-B-Que Suite," the work pairs an original composition by jazz artist Bobby Watson with the choreography of Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company co-founder and artistic director Mary Pat Henry.

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Theater/Performance
10:36 am
Fri May 8, 2009

Lyric Opera of Kansas City Presents "Charlotte's Web"

Annie Yungmeyer, eighth grade student at Leawood Middle School; and Sarah Marie Hennessey, a freshman at Blue Valley North High School, play the role of Fern
photo: Laura Spencer, KCUR

In E.B. White's classic novel "Charlotte's Web," a pig called Wilbur, the runt of the litter, is raised by a young girl named Fern and befriended by a spider named Charlotte.

Kansas City, MO – In the Lyric Opera of Kansas City's production, professional opera singers and more than 20 children bring the story to life through song. KCUR's Laura Spencer spoke with a middle schooler and a high schooler who share the role of Fern.

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Theater/Performance
8:29 am
Thu May 7, 2009

Kansas City Ballet's Christopher Barksdale Retires

Christopher Barksdale and Kansas City Ballet company members at a rehearsal of "Salute"
photos: Laura Spencer, KCUR

In dance, a professional career begins at a young age and often ends early. Two members of the Kansas City Ballet take their final bows this weekend.

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Music
11:12 am
Wed May 6, 2009

Kansas City Symphony Presents Symphonic Work Based on "The Lord of the Rings"

More than 200 performers share the stage this week for "The Lord of the Rings Symphony" composed by Howard Shore. It's based on the musical score from the films adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien's tales of hobbits, elves, dwarves, orcs and men of Middle-earth.

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KCUR News
10:24 am
Wed April 22, 2009

Nelson-Atkins Director And CEO Announces Retirement

Director/CEO Marc F. Wilson Announces Retirement as of June 2010

Kansas City, MO – The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art's Director and CEO, Marc Wilson, is stepping down after nearly three decades. KCUR's Laura Spencer reports.

The museum's fourth director since opening in 1933, Marc Wilson oversaw the transformation and expansion that included the opening of the Bloch Building in 2007, which received much critical acclaim. Newly expanded and reinstalled American galleries opened to the public April 22, 2009, and expanded Native American galleries open in November.

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KCUR News
10:00 am
Tue April 14, 2009

Stimulus Bill Funds Jobs In The Arts

Kansas City, MO – State arts agencies and regional arts organizations will soon be infused with $20 million from the federal stimulus package. The National Endowment for the Arts will distribute the funds as part of an effort to jumpstart the economy. KCUR's Laura Spencer reports.

Kansas Arts Commission Executive Director Llewelyn Crain says the funds are to be used specifically for grant recipients to preserve jobs in the arts. The amount of the grants will range between $5,000 and $40,000.

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Kemper ARTcasts
9:36 am
Fri March 6, 2009

Kemper ARTcast 5: In Loving Memory of You

Archie Scott Gobber, In Loving Memory of You, 2007?08; enamel on wood panels, 80 x 144 inches; Collection of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum Purchase made possible by the Collectors Forum and the Sosland Acquisition Fund, 2008.26

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art presents a two-part exhibition, exploring utopia and dystopia through works from its permanent collection. The titles of the exhibitions, In Loving Memory of You, come from the Kemper Museum's recent acquisition by Kansas City-based artist Archie Scott Gobber. In this edition, a conversation between Gobber and Museum Director and CEO Rachael Blackburn Cozad.

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Jazz/Blues
10:14 am
Sun March 1, 2009

Fat Tuesday Starts Early in Kansas City

Dirty Force makes a stop during its annual early morning Mardi Gras march
photo: Laura Spencer, KCUR

The Top of the Bottoms Social Aide Pleasure Society's Dirty Force Brass Knuckle Street Band and Soul Revue, or simply Dirty Force, has gained a reputation for arriving unannounced. But each year on Mardi Gras, the New Orleans-style brass band gathers on Kansas City's West Side to mark the festivities with an early morning march.

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Theater/Performance
12:20 pm
Thu February 12, 2009

St?rling Dance Theater Tackles Race Relations

The neo-classical dance company, St?rling Dance Theater (in residence at the Culture House in Olathe), has tackled difficult subject matter in its choreography over the last decade, from biblical themes to Alzheimer's.

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Theater/Performance
9:59 am
Wed February 4, 2009

Soprano Danielle de Niese in her American Recital Debut

In its more than 40 year history, the Harriman-Jewell Series has presented 18 American recital debuts, including tenor Luciano Pavarotti. Recently, it was soprano Danielle de Niese's turn.

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Classical
9:40 am
Mon January 19, 2009

Chen Yi: From the Path of Beauty

In Kansas City recently, the all-male vocal group, Chanticleer and the Shanghai Quartet continued the world premiere tour of Chen Yi's From the Path of Beauty.

Kansas City, MO – A Kansas City-based composer, Chen Yi has taught for the last decade at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance. KCUR's Laura Spencer has this profile.

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KCUR News
11:52 pm
Wed January 14, 2009

Nelson-Atkins Museum Of Art Clarifies Cuts

photo: Laura Spencer/KCUR

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KCUR News
12:00 am
Tue December 23, 2008

Secret Santa Tradition Continues

Kansas City, MO – A lot of people are holding onto their money this holiday season, but one Kansas City man has been doing just the opposite. If you're lucky, you might see him, dressed in red, handing out crisp hundred dollar bills to random, unsuspecting people, like Cody Bennett from Overland Park. Bennett says, "Money is tight this year, so it opens a lot more doors."

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Music
10:07 am
Thu December 18, 2008

TubaChristmas 2008

For nearly 30 years, hundreds of tuba, euphonium and baritone players, amateurs and professionals, have gathered in Kansas City to perform in the annual TubaChristmas concert.

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Theater/Performance
8:33 am
Thu December 11, 2008

Owen/Cox Dance Group Presents Contemporary Version of Medieval Mystery Play

In the 15th and 16th centuries, residents of towns and villages in England would gather together during the holiday season, while guilds produced short public plays called pageants.

Kansas City, MO – The Shearmen and Taylors' Pageant is one of only two surviving plays of the Coventry Cycle, from the town of Coventry, which became well-known for its lavish Christmas productions.

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Music
11:20 am
Thu December 4, 2008

Kansas City Chorale Gets Grammy Nod

The nominees for the 51st Annual Grammy Awards were announced Wednesday. And for the second year in a row, two choral ensembles led by conductor Charles Bruffy have been included.

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