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Published Sep. 9, 2009

Kari Goetz, 34, Tampa

Job: Audience development manager, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

Education: B.F.A (theater performance), University of Florida.

How has your theater work helped you in marketing and vice versa?

I consider them to be inseparable. All performers need to know how to market themselves effectively, and all arts marketers need to know how to effectively convey the performing arts. When you come from a performance background, I think you naturally have an advantage in marketing live performance. Then again, that's true of channeling any passion into a successful business model. If you love what you're promoting, you'll promote it with everything you've got.

How did you learn so many skills?

Because I wasn't a very good waitress! Honestly. When I moved to L.A. after graduating with my theater degree from UF, I started waiting tables. I hated it. I started trying to find flexible day jobs and found that the creative industries were more than happy to utilize my imagination and offer me the flexibility to still audition (for acting jobs). As a result, I had the opportunity to be a content writer for a Web site, a marketer for a famous comedy club, a corporate trainer for an improvisational theater and an actor - all at the same time. Maintaining all of that today is fairly easy. I just show up for work at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center and afterward rehearse in the Shimberg Playhouse with Jobsite Theater.

Do you see technology affecting the theater?

I really don't know what technology exists that we haven't embraced. We continue to be open to new concepts and services that keep our patrons engaged in what is happening both at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center and in the theater scene nationally. I spent a very cold and rainy day in May in Times Square waiting for the Tony nominations to be announced. I was surrounded by arts marketers who were responsible for promoting Broadway shows. We were all on Twitter doing real time updates. We were ahead of the CBS feed. That . . . speaks volumes.

What do you feel has been your greatest accomplishment?

I'm extraordinarily proud of managing to get to this point in my life and not be a jaded and bitter artist. I've been performing professionally since I was 8 years old. This is a tough business and you sacrifice a lot and you become very familiar with rejection.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration in everything. One of my greatest teachers, Martin de Maat, used to say that everything in life was a gift - sometimes it just comes in lousy wrapping paper. He was absolutely right.

What gives you the most pride?

Directing. I love conceiving and birthing a whole world. I love to play midwife for my actors as they bring their characters to life. I love the details, the broad strokes, the organic discoveries and the manufactured solutions. The whole process is rewarding. I don't have children of my own, but I see each of my shows as a child and I am so proud of each and every one of them.

What are the strengths of the Tampa Bay arts community?

Versatility. We are a very adaptable bunch. With creative people come creative solutions. The belief that we can accomplish anything makes for vital and innovative artistic contributions. We also are fortunate to have a steadily growing audience base. "Buy locally" has translated to the art community, and it's nice to see our residents spending their creative dollar with local artists.

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