It’s time for the big reveal: Act2, the official podcast of the Straz Center, launched last month on Soundcloud.
Let’s face it. Not everybody reads. Some of you won’t even make it this far. Look, no judgment here. Life’s about adapting, and lots of people would rather pop open Soundcloud on their devices and tune into something cool during their commutes, workouts or workdays. That’s fine by us because it means we get to explore new ways to create digital content and make more fun stuff.
Which brings us to: Act2, our latest creation in our digital content world—the Straz Center podcast. We’ve named it Act2 since it complements this blog, Caught in the Act, as another way to get you behind-the-scenes, on the fringes and everywhere in between. We’ve been dreaming of a podcast since 2014, but, believe it or not, as a non-profit arts organization, we often find ourselves with too many big ideas and not enough time, money and person power to get to everything we want to do. The majority of our web presence and social media engagement is done by three people. Seriously.
However, creativity finds a way. Plus, we knew we needed to add something extra for our non-reading arts-lovers. “I was talking to a co-worker about the blog and all of the cool, unique interviews we have featured there and she mentioned that she doesn’t really have a lot of time to read the blog but would listen to a podcast,” says Digital Marketing Director LeeAnn Douglas. “After speaking to a few more folks, they also mentioned that they listen to podcasts at their desks, in their cars, on the bus. It became apparent that there was this whole demographic that we aren’t reaching with our blog.”
Enter Fred Johnson, a longtime jazz vocalist, percussionist and all-around-cool-guy who almost everybody from West Tampa to Tel Aviv either knows or gigged with at some point in their career. Fred, who was the very first artist to play at The Straz when it opened (as Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center) at 1987, also served as our VP of Education before traveling far afield in other artistic callings in New York, Israel and everywhere in between. He returned in February 2018 as our Artist-in-Residence to cultivate The Straz’s relationships with the community and to start to tell the story of our artistic legacy.
When he got here, Fred said “hey, I can do podcasts. Let’s do a podcast.”
Now here we are, about to publish our third episode of Act2 on Soundcloud.
“For my career, I’ve been an artist and a connector. I build bridges to bring folk together,” says Fred. “One of the most important elements of life is to inspire people to celebrate life together through the arts. We’re in times now where so many people are afraid of each other, so I want us [The Straz] to be welcoming, to be a place where people want to come to learn about each other. A podcast can help do that because it starts a new conversation full of information to empower the community. The community gets to learn about each other, what everybody’s doing artistically, about us and what we do here, through the podcast. It becomes connective tissue.”
LeeAnn agrees. “I love that our digital content is less about selling you a ticket and more about sharing our passion for the arts,” she says. “It gives us an opportunity to talk about all of the things that the Straz Center does that have nothing to do with putting a show on stage. And we’ll entertain requests but can’t guarantee that we’ll discuss it on the podcast. Send a message on Facebook if you want to know something in particular. We got a request to talk about Waitress and guess what? On April 26, we’re publishing a podcast about Waitress.”
“We want to be in folks’ homes and phones developing a real relationship,” says Fred. “I love doing podcasts because I love listening to people and learning about folk. People hunger for beauty, for joy, for connection, for those things that are priceless. The podcast can satisfy that hunger by including all of the richness of what everybody in this community has to offer and then offering that information out to the public. I want people to listen and feel ‘hey, a little of me lives at The Straz. That’s my place.’”
Join us for Act2 as we release a new podcast every few weeks. Subscribe by finding Act2 on the iTunes Store, the Podcasts app for iOS, or on the Google Play Music app for Android by searching “Straz Center.”