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.
“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.
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.”