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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
“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.