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

Robin Sokoloff

Robin Sokoloff is a lifelong dancer, theater professional, and activist: Passionate about building platforms for women and minority voices.

Combining her craft talents as a producer, casting director, and choreographer, Robin Sokoloff spent her twenties developing interactive entertainment concepts for venues, record labels, and big brand events nationwide. Her high-profile rock show “Spotlight Live” ran for two years in the heart of Times Square on Broadway; featured on Good Morning America, The Today Show, The Whoopi Show, The Montel Williams Show, Fox 5 News, WPIX Channel 11 News, Good Day NY, and NY 1.

After starting up Data Insights and Analytics Firm SolvedByData (Freelancers Union, Microsoft, Mobile Commons, Heineken, Forbes), Robin set her sights on solving the problem of access to minority friendly and affordable creative space in New York City for artists and entrepreneurs. By leveraging her industry techspertise in building and lighting design, Robin built Loft227: A performance and event venue providing enterprise level production resources that supports new works that inspire, enlighten, and strengthen communities through interactive entertainment and political action.

As Executive Director of Loft227, Robin has grown the organization to encompass 20,000 emerging artists, entrepreneurs, and their supporters, with an emphasis on the advancement of young women, minorities, and LGBTQ voices. For over 5 years, Sokoloff has leveraged her space to donate over $215,000 each year in sponsorship, rehearsal hours, and production dollars to the best and brightest innovators New York City has to offer.  Robin and her team have supported over 600 live events in under 5 years, directly creating jobs for over 54 local freelance artists, and enabling an additional 1,800 freelance supporting jobs for various organizations and events. In all, Loft227 has seen 68,000 unique visitors through it’s doors. 

Loft227 is set to expand into a location 5X it's current size in Summer 2017, to meet the city's overwhelming demand for dynamic space and mentorship in NYC. 

Most recently, Robin Sokoloff fully produced “Queer Composers For Orlando”, “The Lost” – A New Play By Keelay Gipson, “The Giants” – A New Play By Matthew Jellison, “Bun In The Oven” – A Film By Jono Freedrix, and launched Hong Kong’s smash hit, “The Easy Hour” in New York City (I AM Concepts). She is currently choreographing Pasek and Paul's award-winning musical "DOGFIGHT" for 5th Floor Theater Company at The Hudson Guild Theater. 

Robin serves on the Board of The Musical Theater Factory: Developing of over 90 new musicals with more than 900 volunteers contributing over 15,000 combined hours of service. 

Robin holds a BA in Sociology from New York University’s College of Arts and Sciences, she is a graduate of NEW (Non-Traditional Employment For Women), and a member of The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America w/ Local 157; proud to have built this city she loves. Robin is a certified NYS Rape Crisis Advocate for the Crime Victims Treatment Center; volunteering overnights at St. Luke’s/ Roosevelt and Lenox Hill Hospitals supporting victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. She’s also an advocate mentor for CVTC, training new volunteers each year.

Robin is a sanctioned athlete with The United Skates Figure Skating Association.