FORMER BARRE KC PRESIDENT
Lauren Thompson is no stranger to hard work. “It’s just how I was raised,” she says. “Both of my parents are retired and are active volunteers. Volunteerism is part of what you do in my family. You give back. You find the thing your passionate about or the thing you want to help with…there’s always a way to get involved.”
She’s been an active volunteer in Kansas City’s arts scene for a long time. She “cut her teeth” on the Young Friends of Art board of directors for the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. When she learned of an opportunity to breathe new life into Kansas City Ballet’s BARRE KC group, she jumped at the chance.
“Dance is my passion,” says Lauren, a former UMKC graduate with a BFA in dance. “When I was in college, Kansas City Ballet and UMKC had a strong connection. I started taking adult studio classes even before the Bolender Center was opened in 2011.”
She started off as the social media chair for BARRE KC. After four years on the board she decided she wanted to be its president. At that point, not many the of original board members were left, so her first task was leading a big recruitment campaign to staff a working board.
Lauren explained, “You run into this issue with young friends groups… some people just want something to put on a resume. You need people willing to show up, roll up his or her sleeves and make it happen. Our goal was to energize people.”
Under her leadership, Lauren led BARRE KC to create nominal monthly membership fees in addition to lump sum payment options to fit anyone’s budget. The group started a monthly BARRE KC studio class to encourage dance education and to introduce members to the wide range of adult dance classes available at Kansas City Ballet School. And, most importantly, she helped lead the group to create and promote their most-successful fundraising event two years running: The BARRE Soiree. The event has managed to raise $6,500 in 2018 and $9,000 in 2019 for a total of $15,500 towards Kansas City Ballet’s R.O.A.D. program. The latter event also sold out for the first time.
When asked for her favorite achievement of her presidency, Lauren responded: “My favorite is a little one. Last year was the first time we did the BARRE KC Crawl Street Car event. I wanted it to start at a ballet open rehearsal. So many attended, we ran out of chairs. People who came also came to the show because they wanted to see it. I’m proud of these little things. They matter. That’s how we get members. Our job is not only to support the ballet financially but with future audiences.”
To learn more about Lauren’s unique career, read her profile from November 2019 in this recent UMKC alumni article.
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