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Catalyze 2024: Erica Sutherlin

Bill DeYoung



We’re asking thought leaders, business people and creatives to talk about the upcoming year and give us catalyzing ideas for making St. Pete a better place to live. What should our city look like? What are their hopes, their plans, their problem-solving ideas? This is Catalyze 2024.

More than a lot of people in St. Petersburg’s creative community, Erica Sutherlin has reason to be excited about the coming year. As the incoming executive director of thestudio@620 (she’ll step into founder Bob Devin Jones’ considerable shoes in June), Sutherlin’s looking at a very bright future.

And so, she believes, is the city itself.

“I’m super-excited about the energy we have here,” Sutherlin said. “I think we need to harness it. We need to lean in. We need to be on the wave and not behind the wave.”

Thestudio@620 celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2024.

This longtime writer/director and actor thinks that the mission of 620, to serve as an incubator for all kinds of Tampa Bay artistic endeavors, is right for 2024. “It’s a creative hub. And I really, really want to get back to maximizing that creative incubation, and bringing in different types of artists to help that.

“And celebrating the things that we incubate that live here – the organizations, the artists – and making sure that the community knows about it. The immediate community, our regional community and then our national community.

“I think,” she continued, “we’re on the precipice of something great. That St. Pete will become a blueprint for other cities, art-wise, business-wise, across the board one of our goals is this idea of diversity and inclusivity. I would love to continue to see, through the art lens, a diversity in culture. A diversity in style and genre.

“And I think this diversity, and collaboration, will strengthen us too. I’d love to see a lot more arts organizations working together to create, so we don’t each have to take on the heavy burden – the conversations, in everyone’s world, are about finance and inflation.”

Collaborations will be integral to the success of the city’s art community. “That’s one of the things that I’m interested in as I move into my leadership role,” Sutherlin explained. “How can I make this organization successful, or build on its success, by really understanding and utilizing collaborations?”

She’ll spend the first half of the year “ghosting” Jones. She’s already begun querying artists and others from the community.

“I haven’t talked to everyone I’m interesting in talking to, but I’ve just started to plant the seed,” Sutherlin said. “It always comes back to this idea of financial cost and revenue, and how do we share that? And because our model is ‘the answer is always yes,’ I feel like we can figure that out.”











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    Danny E White

    December 9, 2023at4:13 pm

    Excellent decision to lift Erica to the helm @Studio620! Big shoes to fill, that is true; however, she is well equipped to stride.

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