NEW Graduate Builds Arts and Events Complex in Manhattan

NEW Graduate Builds Arts and Events Complex in Manhattan

My name is Robin Sokoloff, I am the founder of the non-profit organization Sokoloff Arts. I build performance and event spaces. My mission is to provide affordable, hi-tech space that is women and minority focused for New York City’s entrepreneurs and innovators. 

I am a proud graduate of NEW. Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW) prepares, trains, and places women in careers in the skilled construction, utility, and maintenance trades, allowing women to achieve economic independence and a secure future for themselves and their families. This is how NEW helped me achieve mine. 

Like so many post-recession, both my husband and I were unemployed. In 2011, I was fortunate to earn a spot in NEW’s intensive apprenticeship program. The apprenticeship was a highly structured curriculum preparing us for conditions on the job. NEW provided a rigorous coursework in trade-focused mathematics, hands on general contracting skills, green building principles and engaging seminars by working union tradeswomen. The intensive was designed to mimic the hours and physical demands we could expect on-the-job, and prepared us for what challenges we would face as a minority class in a heavily male dominated workplace. 

When I was down and out, NEW believed in me. They welcomed me in their doors and 6 weeks later I emerged a working tradeswoman. My apprenticeship gave me the qualifications to land my first job as a non-union carpenter building residential brownstones in Harlem. Shortly thereafter, NEW gave me a path into The United Brotherhood of Carpenters as a union dockbuilder with Local #157 building the HOV lane on the Gowanus Expressway. I actually built a New York City roadway!

NEW also offered me classes in small-business entrepreneurship, providing me the tools to open my own company and build my first space venture, Loft227. I’m proud to say that Loft227 was a one-of-a-kind theater and event space in Chelsea which became profitable in less than a year; seeing nearly 70,000 in its doors in under 5 years, while supporting close to 900 innovative works and small business owners.

NEW took my desire to build, and crafted me into someone who could not only build, but employ and support others who want to build too. I am not only a tradeswoman, I am a female business owner and activist who is reshaping New York City’s cultural landscape to make more space for women, minorities, and immigrant classes.

My next building venture, TOWN STAGES, expands the mission started at Loft227. Town Stages is a state-of-the-art, flexible performance and event space. Measuring six times our initial footprint, Town offers four customizable stages and an elegant storefront event space that can support the entire lifecycle of New York’s hallmark industries. We will host all types of events, from civic to corporate, tech to theater. Town will provide world-class cultural experiences and opportunities for all.  

As Kevin Spacey says, “If you're lucky enough to do well, it's your responsibility to send the elevator back down”. Town Stages is a new shared space model that is one part rentals, one part incubator, and one part subsidized production venue for emerging business leaders. Through our non-profit Fellowship Program, we incubate projects from start to finish, and offer a home for up-and-coming artistic and entrepreneurial works. We assist young creators with not only space, but resource generation, production, and community. 

New York City residents and small business residents are caught in a real estate crisis, the likes of which it hasn’t seen since the 70’s. Commercial rents have far exceeded the cost of doing business, storefronts are 38% vacant and climbing. Whether you sell a product, service, or experience, you can no longer afford to go it alone. Through its five year span, Loft227 specifically tailored a highly successful shared space model to remedy this real estate debacle. Loft227 became a beacon of hope to those needing a platform for their ventures and with overwhelming demand quickly outgrew our humble walls.  

Our new facility at Town will offer a larger audience capacity for Women’s Leadership Conferences, World Premier Performances, Charitable Fundraisers and… most importantly, a beautiful space to gather with family and friends on the most important day of their lives. It is a one-of-a-kind collaborative arts complex connecting like-minded innovators under one roof to address economic challenges emerging business leaders face. We expect 750,000 people in our doors over the next 15 years. 

New York City’s landscape is rapidly changing on many fronts, and I feel it’s paramount that we embrace what is coming with innovative and progressive thinking. Now more than ever, we must take responsibility for building the city we want to see. 

As I learned at NEW, I cannot do this alone. Nothing is created in a vacuum. Collaboration is the key. Dedicating supplies and/or labor, committing resources to build or even naming the space are just some of the impactful ways you can help build this TOWN.

NEW took the leap and believed in me. As a supporter of NEW’s incredible mission, I’m asking you to champion my mine. 

Make this YOUR Town. 

Sincerely, 

Robin Sokoloff,

Executive Director Town Stages | Sokoloff Arts

Sokoloff Arts Announces 2017 -2018 Fellowship At Town Stages

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Sokoloff Arts has been dedicated to telling your story and sharing your passion since our days at Loft227. 

In collaboration with TOWN STAGES’ beautiful new arts and events complex in Manhattan, Sokoloff Arts is excited to offer YOU a consolidated home for the life cycle of your project, a platform for the next phase of development, and an ultimate pipeline to success.

 

Part residency, part incubator, and part home base, a Fellowship with Sokoloff Arts offers ultimate creative freedom to grow within our walls. 

Here's What You'll Get

 

*Access to our Shared Spaces*

Join us during the day for your meetings, team brainstorming sessions, or just a quiet place to write. Basically, mi casa, su casa.


*Rehearsal/ Shoot/ Production/ Incubator Space Subsidy*

Rehearse your opening number, host your think tank, or transform TOWN into the perfect spot for a day on set. Book partially subsidized private space (up to 50% off our normal rate) as long as it’s available, within a two week booking window. Do NOT fall asleep on this one though, it's first come, first served. 


*Performance/Screening/Event Space Subsidy*

Courtesy of Sokoloff Arts, book one of our spaces for your production, full show run, screening, pitch, or event at our subsidized Fellowship discount rate. Do all the things!!


*Be part of our Social Network*

Participate in social media shares and be featured in our e-blasts and on our website. Get access to exclusive TOWN events, roundtables, open dress rehearsals, festivals and screenings. You're always invited!


*Town Stages Community*

Join a creative cohort of like minded makers and thinkers, share energy and success stories, and combine resources and tactics for efficiency. Be apart of the family!


Are you excited? We're excited!

To apply, please submit the form below and email us any supplemental materials you believe to be relevant to your application.

Applications for Fellowships are accepted on a rolling basis. The length of your Fellowship, along with your total number of allocated space hours, will be determined by our selection team.

To download a PDF version to draft your answers offline, click here

Got a burning question? Contact our Deputy Director, Chie Morita.

phone: 212-634-7690 x702

email: chie@townstages.com

 

 

TOWN STAGES Welcomes Chie Morita as Deputy Director

Chie Morita, photo by Michael Kushner

Chie Morita, photo by Michael Kushner

At her core, and in all her artistic endeavors, Chie seeks creative solutions to everyday debacles. With a wide variety of experiences in the New York City arts scene, Chie is dedicated to generating resources, kindling conversation and connectivity, and creating educational opportunities for artists to work smarter. Already with TOWN, she, in partnership with Sokoloff Arts, has launched a Fellowship Program that will offer artists, and makers of all kinds, the opportunity to claim highly subsidized space at TOWN STAGES, while building a cohort for discussion, feedback, and creative growth.  

“At the end of the day, one of NYC’s largest (and ever growing) resources is its wealth of talented artists and storytellers. I am dedicated to their stories and their success. I am dedicated to their health and happiness. And I am dedicated to allowing them every freedom to make the work they are compelled to make, for they are what make this city great,” says Morita.

After graduating with a theater degree from Northern Arizona University, Chie bought a one-way ticket to New York City, and looked to sink or swim. She began with an internship with The Wings Theatre, which grew to an associate producer role within 6 months. Next, she held positions in the Casting, Production, and Executive offices at The Public Theater, after which she tried her hand on the Great White Way with Broadway Producer Joey Parnes.

While at the Public, she had the pleasure of working on such hits as Here Lies Love, Fun Home, several seasons of Emerging Writers Group readings and Shakespeare in the Park adventures, and a very early experiment called Straight White Men. With the Parnes Office, Chie’s work began with assisting Tracie Bennett (then playing Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow), and after a comical conversation about how neither of them knew what personal assistants were supposed to do, Chie helped coordinate a lot of press events, managed a lot of timing fiascos, and spent more time in Tiffany’s than she ever had before, or has since. She also developed a taste for Cosmos. It was an excellent year. Also with Parnes, she helped to produce End of the Rainbow, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, and several years worth of Drama Desk Awards ceremonies. Most recently, Chie proudly served as the Managing Director of the 3-time-Drama-Desk-Nominated New York Neo-Futurists and General Managed their January 2017 Prime Time production, The Great American Drama.

TOWN’s Executive Director, Robin Sokoloff, is thrilled to have Chie onboard as Deputy Director, to formalize and expand the services they’ve been providing for the past 5 years at Loft227. “Chie is an outstanding artist and community leader with an incredible mind for operations, logistics, and finance. She’s that rare combination of what I call left brain - right brain - heart brain, that can hold space for those of us who may only excel in one or the other. For all those that we will be supporting under our new roof at Town Stages, Chie Morita is going to be an extraordinary resource in helping shape the lifecycle of their endeavor.”

Chie recalls “Robin and I have been orbiting each other for several years now. I was introduced to her (and Loft227), through Dave Thomas Brown, who chose her venue to shoot some headshots for me. I am not an actor, and being in front of a camera for that long I find mildly terrifying, but between Dave’s professional ease and Robin’s casual banter, we were soon relaxed and having a great time. I immediately knew that Robin was my kind of people.”

In 2016, Chie and her long-time collaborator Greg Taubman began an arts consultancy called FORGE. FORGE is dedicated to helping arts companies and independent artists take the next step with their work, whatever that next step might be. Recently, they have guided performers into self producing roles, helped arts administrators consider long term plans, time management strategies, and burnout prevention, and advised organizations on company longevity and vision. They are also advising The Barn Arts Collective (in Bar Harbor, ME) on how to become and maintain a 501(c)3, and are a resource for theater companies statewide through the 2017 NYSCA-A.R.T./NEW YORK Creative Opportunity Fund. FORGE also runs a monthly writing retreat, called FORGE FUEL, at an idyllic farm house in Danbury, CT, and are in the midst of a capital campaign to renovate the barn on property into a residency space, called the Howard Taubman Playhouse, for artists and their work.

“In the months following meeting Robin, I kept finding myself back at Loft… I would attend a friend’s new musical production, and I would find myself staring up at the memorable silver “227”; I would go to a company launch party, and there I was again; I would drop by a colleagues graduation party, and… you guessed it. Finally taking the universe’s hints, I organized an awards party, produced a reading for The NY Neo-Futurists, and launched my consulting company, FORGE, all out of Loft227 with Robin’s help. It became my go-to venue when I needed somewhere that felt like home, and the first place I would suggest when friends sought a venue to make their work come to life.”

Sokoloff has a habit of recruiting dynamic lady bosses to run her shop, while they are building remarkable companies of their own. Now, Chie splits her time between TOWN STAGES and FORGE, and finds that the amount of crossover that occurs between thinking about the two organizations is astronomical, and very exciting.

Sokoloff explains, “Call me crazy, but I want a company full of experienced and talented thought leaders who are passionately engaged on many fronts. I’m looking for people who know exactly how it feels to be all-in on their own dream, where the stakes have been as high as mine are here. Women with fresh ideas and pathways forward who have a proven track record of executing on them; no matter the challenges ahead. When Chie said she’s also building a home for artists upstate and in Connecticut, I got chills. We have similar goals, and so much overlap in our approach, and plenty of areas we excel in outside of each other’s scope. More women making strides and making space means more opportunities for our creative community that’s suffered a shocking rent hike in recent years, and rapidly changing political landscape. Opening a new storefront arts institution in New York City’s risky and competitive real estate market will not be without it’s challenges, but the long term impact on those young artists and innovators we are supporting will be felt for generations to come. They are what’s important and we’re gonna rise to the occasion for them. Town’s success will be everyone’s success; and it will take a team of world-class, hard-working visionaries like Chie Morita: Someone who can both dream big and expertly navigate the very real complexities on the ground.”

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For years, Sokoloff successfully ran Loft227 at capacity, without seeking outside funding and non-profit support services of any kind. All the while, her inbox flooded with more and more requests from local creators to expand into a larger location with a larger audience size. She was hesitant at first on how to move forward, knowing that with more space comes exponentially greater responsibilities. She explains, “We took our first 5 years to learn all we could, and be sure our non-traditional model performed as well as we hoped. We are proud to be growing so quickly, and in Chie we’ve now found the kind of unparalleled leadership that’s both been in the trenches with their fellow creatives, and has the institutional non-profit background to carry us into this new territory at Town Stages. It takes a truly unique individual to navigate New York City’s complex artistic ecosystem from all sides. If you give Chie a puzzle, she’ll find you three solutions and keep working on a fourth. We are so pleased to have Chie at our helm as we take this leap, keeping the trains on the tracks, and building even more opportunities for artistic engagement as we nearly quadruple in size and scope of what we offer.”

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As a freelance theater professional executing roles in both the commercial and DIY artist space, Chie has also cast, produced, general managed, and made movement (for theater, film, and the occasional circus piece) with such institutions, independent artists, and ensembles as Ars Nova, Heather Christian and the Arbornauts, Extant Arts Company, UglyRhino, Panicked Productions, Fresh Ground Pepper, art.party.theater.company, Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai, Sal Bardo, Emilie McDonald, Sarah Jenkins and Ashley Alexander. She is also a proud board member for The Musical Theatre Factory.

Looking forward to announcing the inaugural fellowship recipients with Sokoloff Arts, the renovation of the Howard Taubman Studio in Connecticut, and the opening of Town’s doors this Fall, Morita says, “I am thrilled to be on a team of powerhouse women whose personal missions align so closely to my own, and I cannot wait for what we will be able to build together. At the end of the day, I think, it’s all about belonging, and the legacy of home. Everyone remembers their childhood space. The place they grew up and defined themselves as people. Going home, back to our roots, instills a sense of comfort and safety in all of us. The smell of the varnished wood cabinets… the terrible shag carpet between your toes… your grandmother's perfume… we all have those sensory cues that say ‘you’re good’. These days, we are all so used to the disappointed sigh that comes with ‘I have nowhere to go. I have nowhere to make my work and hang my hat. Nobody wants me’. We are building Town Stages to solve this lostness, and to say “Come home, take off your shoes, and wiggle your toes in our carpet. Take off your coat, stay a while, and dream.”

Check out Chie and FORGE’s capital campaign for the Howard Taubman Playhouse here, and follow FORGE on Facebook and Instagram at @forge_nyc.

Staci Jacobs joins TOWN STAGES as VP Business Development

Staci Jacobs. photo by Michael Kushner

Staci Jacobs. photo by Michael Kushner

Sokoloff Arts (501C3) is proud to name Staci Jacobs as VP of Business Development for their new storefront Performance & Event Venue, TOWN STAGES.

Riding it’s 5 year success supporting emerging creatives at Loft227, Sokoloff Arts is building TOWN STAGES to feature a cabaret theater, a mainstage venue, and multi-use event space to house a combination of ongoing rentals, sponsorships, and fully produced works from both the public, and their newly inked Fellowship Program.

Sokoloff Arts is a platform for emerging artists, entrepreneurs, and their supporters; with an emphasis on the advancement of young women, minority, and LGBTQ voices. Jacobs came on board in 2016 at Sokoloff Arts managing events and outreach at Loft227 as it geared up for expansion to a larger facility.

Staci talks about how a night out to support a fellow artist turned into a career jump.

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“I discovered Loft227 attending a friend's film screening, a night of all female filmmakers.  Looking around the beautiful, stylish space... I wanted to meet the owner.  I walked up to Robin, introduced myself and we started chatting about Loft, her background our shared passion for supporting women in the arts (film. She gave me a quick tour, pointing out everything in the space- that she built! The beautiful kitchen tiles, the refurbished wooden sliding doors ... I knew this was a woman I wanted to know more and collaborate with in some fashion. A few weeks later we had a lunch date. During that lunch, Robin started speaking about the need to expand and she was looking for someone to do outreach, make connections as well as manage the Loft events.  As a NYC tour guide for 10 years leading and organizing large groups combined with my customer service background I said "I Think I'm your person" A week later, I was officially employed by Loft227 and working my first event.”

Although Loft227 had been operating without outside support of any kind for 4 years, Jacobs began strategically managing key partnerships, and developing accounts for long-term growth. Sokoloff explains, “For many reasons, 2016 was a landmark year for pairing arts performances with social justice giving, and Staci’s passion and expertise was invaluable every step of the way.  Staci has an extraordinary mind for making connections between our clients, their projects, and how they can strategically draw support above and beyond their immediate network. She knows how to get people engaged in a way they’ve never imagined.”

Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, Staci talks about her NYC hustle, how her talents put her in front of hundreds daily, preparing her to manage a high volume venue space. “I came to NYC as a musical theater actor, booking gigs mostly out of town... As many creatives know, being an actor is essentially the life of a professional auditioning, it can feel powerless and unfulfilling. I've always been great with people, so naturally I turned to the concierge and tourism industry as my survival job. Helping people organize their NYC trips, recommending what/where to explore, showing guests the magic of the city; more fun and less crazy. As a tour guide for TV and movie locations I had the pleasure of showing NYC to a global audience. I was able to utilize my leadership skills, entertain, inform and organize hundreds of people every week. The ability to think on your feet, problem solve, and navigate the crowded NYC streets as a stage on a daily basis was crucial.”

Before building Loft227, Sokoloff worked in countless venues that suffered from turning away young and diverse artists, as both renters and staff. As a performer, choreographer, and entertainment director, Robin experienced first hand what it was like being undervalued for her contribution to countless entertainment projects and spaces. As a departure from more traditional venue operations, Robin hires working artists like Staci in a combination of salary, day rates, and revenue sharing - depending on their needs.  As such, her creative team members are partners in the facility’s success.  

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She explains, “Artists are what bring live experiences to life. If you are putting yourself in front of of a live audience, you’re gonna want a team of artists at the helm. That’s almost always who IS at the helm. Yet too often, what artists give is not recognized; let alone realized in compensation. At Loft227, we serve so many creatives looking to us to be creative too; looking for our resources and our collaboration. It takes real talent and guts like Staci’s, to rise to the occasion on our end.  I wanted to build a new kind of company where creative talent can be recognized for what it is, and the value artists bring can be shared across the board. It’s tough out there. We take a lot of risks as artists, and the more we can do to change the game, the more opportunities we can create all around. ”

Staci describes her experience making her award-winning web series, SAVING UNICORNS. “I took the leap to produce my own work a few years ago. Putting myself in the driver’s seat, writing my own content, starring in my own my own show, doing the material I wanted to - empowering. Creating my own content also gave me the ability to build a team, a team that included talented women. My director and animator were both women. My first project was successful, winning awards and now being distributed on an Indie platform. Taking that risk paid off.”

Robin saw that kind of leadership in Staci. “Staci is a consummate theater person, comedian, great writer and content creator, and she’s incredible with people of every walk of life. She really listens to what others need and what matters to them most… and she has a real talent for finessing their message and overall mission to take center stage at their show. She jumped in at Loft227 with both feet, and took charge in our busiest year. Building a great company requires hiring people even smarter than you, who know what it’s like to be the boss. Adding a team member who takes ownership of whatever she is working on and follows through with her work start to finish, is invaluable. Jacob’s is a tried and true New Yorker, and I can’t think of a single person who knows more about our city; who loves and understands it more, and cares about the names and faces filling it."

With the new facility set to open this fall, Sokoloff is correcting a number of staggering gender and racial inequities in the workplace. It’s no secret that very few women build spaces at all; let alone run them. Bucking the trend, the team at Town Stages is led by diverse women with diverse backgrounds in the arts and business sectors. Each team member runs their own company and produces their own work.

Jacobs explains, ”Robin and I share a passion of putting women at the forefront. Giving them a space to tell their stories. Seeing Loft227 expand into Town Stages only opens that platform on a larger scale. Now more than ever, it’s essential for people to have a space to tell all their stories of all backgrounds. Content creators don’t necessarily see the long term game when they embark on a project. It’s holding a fundraiser. Holding production meetings. A casting. Booking multiple shoot locations. Then a screening…  it all requires space.  How great is it to know there’s finally one place that can do all of that for you. That place is Town.”

You can catch Staci on streaming on Seed & Spark and get updates for her latest webseries: Behind The Cereal

TOWN STAGES Welcomes Casandra Rosario As General Manager

Casandra Rosario. photo by Michael Kushner

Casandra Rosario. photo by Michael Kushner

Coming this Fall, the team from Loft227 will bring together emerging artists, entrepreneurs, and their supporters under one roof at their new space: Town Stages.

Alarmed by the quickening pace of city-wide performances space closures in 2012, Robin Sokoloff took bold and decisive action building Loft227: A shared collaborative space connecting like-minded entrepreneurs and artists under one roof.  With an emphasis on the advancement of young women, minority, and LGBTQ voices, Robin Sokoloff and her woman-led team run spaces in one of the most competitive real estate environments in the world so that their local community can self-sustain, and thrive.

At a crucial point in the Loft227’s growth, Rosario came on board as the Events and Venue Manager. Casandra Rosario produces results that make sense for small businesses through digital marketing, events and business strategy. Executing on Sokoloff’s vision for a new financial model for the arts and entrepreneurship, Rosario helped make Loft227 profitable in less than a year, and demand grew faster than they could have imagined.

“Casandra Rosario is a consummate hospitality professional with a proven track record developing unique social engagements in cities across America. Having built her own incredible New York City hospitality-based brand, Food Before Love, Casandra brought a huge fashion forward, creative, and business minded crowd ages 20 - 40 to Loft227. She hit the ground running, developing our social media presence and communicating our unique identity far beyond our network. We went from a word of mouth rental space to a must-have destination for any and every occasion, overnight. People didn’t just come for their one special day anymore. They began showing up for shows and events at Loft227 they had little or no connection to. We became everyone’s go-to home to hang, to experience something new, and connect with someone new. In a word, Casandra is unstoppable. We owe so much of our success to her efforts, across the board in marketing and management" says Founder & Executive Director, Robin Sokoloff. 

With this increased awareness, Loft227 quickly reached it’s capacity. Sokoloff and her team were forced to turn away over 7,000 projects. For years, they’ve been hunting for a bigger facility to relocate to.

Casandra explains, “Sometimes, one of the hardest things to do in this city as a creative, is survive. It’s also not an easy task to do so gracefully. Loft227 gave a platform to everyone who was trying to make a name for themselves in their respective industries, despite the odds, which is something I’ve always admired. Finding a space to succeed as an entrepreneur is the true struggle many face in New York City. Considering the amount of care and love Robin and Scott have for this community, I have no doubt we can make Town that home for those seeking open minds and fertile ground for their development.  I’m excited to see every play, launch, and landmark event that finds its first home with us, and watching how that helps their journey become what it’s meant to be.”

Starting construction Fall 2017, the new TOWN will feature a Cabaret Theater, a Mainstage, and multi-use Event Space; Capacity 229.

Sokoloff remarks on New York City’s changing landscape, concerned, but hopeful. “If New York is to remain a beacon of progressive cultural leadership on the world stage, a dramatic move is needed to solve our home grown real estate crisis. What good are shuttered theaters and vacant luxury condos? 35% of NYC’s storefronts are empty, and climbing.  It’s time for a new approach to small business. No one can survive this alone. We’re building a new kind of creative home at TOWN where all are welcome to congregate, connect, and collaborate for the next fifteen years and beyond, and we are doing it together.”

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Keeping a venue open isn’t easy, but Casandra and Robin have more than earned their stripes in the space game. Right before they met, a sudden shut-down at a previous location forced Rosario to find new homes for a calendar full of events. Sokoloff explains, “I’ll never forget the day I met Casandra. She called Loft227 explaining where she works was suddenly shut down. Obviously, this puts her out of a job. And yet - she was still taking the time to serve every single client and find them a place to relocate. She was looking out for them, going above and beyond; despite her own uncertain future. Anyone who’s ever tried to book a NYC venue knows it’s not easy. Anyone who’s ever tried to relocate several events all at once, is a goddamn hero. That’s the kind of person I want on my team. Casandra is a very special, hard working woman with impeccable character, a cool head, a huge heart, and big vision. No matter what this town throws at her, and the people she collaborates with, Casandra leads with what’s right, and what’s true.”

In 2015, Rosario was named one of the Top 10 Women to know in the Culinary space by Essence Magazine and she’s still killing it. This fall, she’ll be honored by the Rochester Institute of Technology with the 'Women Leaders In Hospitality Award'.

Check out her featured spot on 'Inside New York', with British Airways:

You can follow Casandra Rosario on her blog at FoodBeforeLove.com, and get updates as she builds TOWN at @TownStages. Stay tuned!

HUSTLE CREATIVE’S Magan Wiles joins TOWN STAGES as VP Operations

Magan Wiles. photo by Confetti Moon Photography

Magan Wiles. photo by Confetti Moon Photography

Sokoloff Arts (501C3) is proud to name Magan Wiles as VP Operations for their new storefront Performance & Event Venue, TOWN STAGES. 

Riding it’s 5 year success supporting emerging creatives at Loft227, Sokoloff Arts is building TOWN STAGES to feature a cabaret theater, a mainstage, and multi-use event space to house a combination of ongoing rentals, sponsorships, and fully produced works from both the public and their newly inked Residency Tracks.

Magan Wiles has been a part of the Sokoloff Arts family since 2013; instrumental in Loft227’s rapid growth and 5-Star customer service. Sokoloff Arts welcomes emerging artists, entrepreneurs, and their supporters; with an emphasis on the advancement of young women, minority, and LGBTQ voices.

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Reflecting on her own journey, Wiles explains, “I earned my MFA from UT-Knoxville in 2012, moved to New York and found myself in the same position as almost all aspiring actors - working a series of part-time gigs to make ends meet, and feeling utterly powerless over my acting career and life in general.  I’ve always been good at project management, and had produced a number of theater productions as well as worked in various aspects of admin since I was a teenager.  I discovered I was really good at analyzing existing admin procedures and finding where they could be distilled, automated, and put online- enabling me to provide operational support at a fraction of the cost, from anywhere in the world. Together with Robin, I built an air-tight back-end process that allowed us to host hundreds of rentals and never need to be in the same city to do it.”

Robin Sokoloff describes those first few months operating Loft227 on her own: “When I opened The Loft the public response was both wonderful and truly overwhelming. My inbox was flooded, and the phone was ringing off the hook, and there were simply not enough hours in the day for one person alone to manage the company. I was doing everything from website building, social media, billing, stage management, sales… I needed help. That first hire felt so critical, and a bit scary - like your first skydive. You're speeding towards the ground fast, thinking… ‘Is this chute gonna work? Will anyone care about this as much as I do?’ What an incredible relief to find a fellow renegade artist and trusted partner in Magan. She’s a consummate classical actress with an extraordinary capacity for streamlining virtually any business practice. in a post-recession economy where artists were reeling from city-wide space closures and rising rents, we were able to build a fresh new model for servicing young innovators at any budget.”

Magan Wiles on set, BUN IN THE OVEN. Jono Freedrix

Magan Wiles on set, BUN IN THE OVEN. Jono Freedrix

Bringing administrative shape to Robin’s vision for a new financial model for the arts, Wiles helped Loft227 become profitable in less than a year, and put the company in a position to start giving back. 

“We built a sliding scale ‘Robin Hood’ type model that addresses the life-cycle of New York City’s hallmark industries. From civic, to corporate, to tech, to theatre. In a stalled economy, where outside funding for the arts was rapidly waning, it seemed paramount that we learn to self-sustain. It was important to me that we build an institution with no financial strings attached, so that those artists we gave a home to could do their work the way they saw fit. We put artists in the driver’s seat here every step of the way - from who we employ to who we service. Magan and I have been in the trenches in theater, dance, and film our whole lives; both onstage and backstage. Having seen it all from all sides, we had a vision to transform the adversarial relationship creatives had with NYC spaces.  Together, were able to execute on this vision, leverage our incoming business and our space to donate over $215,000 each year back to emerging artists and entrepreneurs in sponsorship, rehearsal hours, and production dollars. Where most fledging arts organizations must spend precious time and resources seeking external financial support, we were able to operate with zero outside funding right away. Magan’s operational expertise kept us ahead of the game at every turn, so I could be fully focused, boots on the ground with our renters, building a pipeline of value we could count on for years to come” says Sokoloff. 

Sokoloff Arts Team - Magan Wiles (VP Operations), Robin Sokoloff (Executive Director), Casandra Rosario (General Manager)

Sokoloff Arts Team - Magan Wiles (VP Operations), Robin Sokoloff (Executive Director), Casandra Rosario (General Manager)

Over the next four years, the team at Loft227 grew to support over 600 live events by revenue sharing with each other, creating jobs for over 54 local freelance artists, and enabling an additional 1,800 freelance jobs engaging with various organizations and events. In all, Loft227 saw over 70,000 unique visitors through its intimate doors. 

Reimagining Google’s famed 80/20 Rule, Sokoloff didn't require Magan onsite after her first year at Loft227. Wiles successfully managed sales and operations for Loft227 from across the country while pursuing her artistic dreams - whether backstage and in costume at some of the country’s top regional theaters, or from film sets with her producing partner Jono Freedrix, or while managing world-renowned Oxygen Tango Studio in Los Angeles.

Magan Wiles - Oxygen Tango LA

Magan Wiles - Oxygen Tango LA

Sokoloff explains,Magan is proof that applying strategic planning and radical efficiency can not only transform a workplace, and reframe how we think about a work/ life balance, but our very choices when it comes to what kind of work we want to do. It’s so empowering to see artists everywhere adopting more entrepreneurial values and expert digital skill sets, to free them up from the constraints of a day job. Some of the most successful artists I know are those who’ve developed a non-traditional means of income boasting non-traditional hours. If you are working with me, I insist you build a company of your own. I always say ‘Building spaces is my dream; let’s make sure we are building yours too.’ Call me crazy, but I believe if you let people do the job they really want to do, they’ll give you more than you can imagine in return. Not only has Magan been a trusted partner for over four years now, she’s become a lifelong friend and creative collaborator.”

Magan Wiles has since opened her boutique client services firm, Hustle Creative. “The Hustle” provides low-cost hi-tech operations support for small businesses and creative entrepreneurs. Her clients are located across the country, and include production companies, financial tech startups, medical professionals, real estate developers, and a farm-to-table catering operation.

Magan Wiles, Loft227

Magan Wiles, Loft227

“Robin urged me from the beginning to start my own business; I’ll never forget when I got an email from her saying I better design a logo because she was naming me a sponsor of the grand opening party she was throwing for our second event space. Once I had a flexible means of support in place, my acting career took off, and I had the time and energy to create my own work as well.

I hosted a fundraiser, produced a film, produced & directed a one-woman show, and threw a screening party - and it was all possible because Loft227 could offer me a sponsored rental rate to do it. Robin fights for autonomy for actors, in both their creative and financial lives, and I’m proof of what she makes possible.  I’m so thrilled we are able to grow our mission to empower thousands more artists in the years to come.”

Beginning construction August 2017, TOWN STAGES will incubate projects from start to finish, and offer a home for up-and-coming artistic work. Sokoloff Arts will assist artists and other creators with not only space, but resource generation, space, production, and community.

To learn more about TOWN STAGES, email connect@townstages, or call (212) 634-7690 x703.

Follow us as our capital campaign goes live on sokoloffarts.org, on Facebook and Instagram at @sokoloffarts and @townstages. 

The Town Stages Capital Campaign Is Live

Along with her women-led team, Loft227's Founder Robin Sokoloff is expanding to a new space. Town Stages will provide world-class cultural experiences and opportunities for all.  We incubate projects from start to finish, and offer a home for up-and-coming artistic work. We will continue to support artists and creators with not only space, but resource generation, production, and community. 
 

For many talented artists and creators, finding an affordable, high-tech, flexible event and production space in New York City is an insurmountable barrier. With only room for 75 seats, we had to turn away over 7,000 incredible projects at our previous space. 

The time has come for a larger space and we need your help to make that possible. 

Town Stages will offer a larger audience capacity for World Premier Performances, Women’s Leadership Conferences, Non-Seasonal show runs, Film Festivals, and a beautiful space to gather with family and friends on the most important day of their lives. 

This space is for you. It’s your TOWN

Having privately raised over $650,000, Town Stages needs just $350,000 more to open its doors.

The remaining $350,000 will cover essential building requirements:

  • Public Assembly Permits & Construction (larger audiences)
  • 2018 Code Fire Safety System (don't want to ruin that new outfit
  • Handicap Accessibility (all are welcome!) to ensure a safe, stable facility for the next fifteen years.

 

We are so grateful for your amazing work, creativity, and love over the past 5 years. We cannot wait to keep growing with you!

With your donation, We Can Build this Town.

Please help us spread the word. 

Read up at sokoloffarts.org, and follow us @townstages. You can always call in to 212-634-7690 or email us at connect@townstages.com