Barbara Mazer Gross can tell you that the arts mean business in St. Petersburg. She's seen it from both sides. Gross's 20+ year career began as a performer - she traveled the Midwest and Southeast as a professional Jewish singer. From there, Gross moved into the arts management field. She has been responsible for the development of some of the largest performing arts centers in Tampa Bay - St. Pete's American Stage and Clearwater's Ruth Eckerd Hall. Gross later joined Tessitura Network, a global leader in performing arts and culture technology as Director of Client relations. Following nine successful years with Tessitura, Gross has now returned to nonprofit and performing arts management. She was named Executive Director of Studio @ 620 in 2017.
Years in St. Pete
Organizations involved in
Chair- Arts Advisory Committee for the City of St. Petersburg, Temple Bethel & Bay Vista Fundamental
What gets you out of bed every day?
Literally - my 5 a.m. alarm gets me out of bed every morning to go running with a wonderful group of women. If I don't go first thing, it doesn't happen. Figuratively, I get out of bed every day because I can't wait to see my kids and I'm passionate about my work.
Why St. Pete?
After 7 midwest winters, I never wanted to see snow again. That's the real, honest answer. My husband was applying for residency programs in family medicine and sports medicine in 2002 and we applied to all of the warm weather ones. This was supposed to a 4 year stint, but after 4 years we liked it here so much that we decided to stay.
What is one habit that you keep?
I try to find a way to exercise at least 3 times a week. When I was working as a consultant, I was on a plane several times a month. An exercise habit was a way to make the travel feel more personal and more humane. No matter what's going on, I try to keep that habit.
who are some people that influence you?
First, my parents. Alan and Frances Mazer. My dad is the world's best board member and volunteer, even still. At almost 70, my mom still manages to be inspiring and energetic to a classroom full of 1st graders every day. Also, I keep close contact with 2 of my former bosses who had tremendous influence over my career. I still contact them very often for advice. That's Robert Friedman and Jack Rubin. Also, I'm constantly inspired by the creative and kindness of Bob Devin Jones.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
My favorite movie is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and my favorite book is Life After Life. I realized that I love that book and that movie for similar reasons. What I gather from those stories is that our experiences, especially the bad ones, form who we are. Instead of trying to forget them, we should draw strength from them and find better ways to move forward.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
I wish I'd have known that moving away from my old job, which I loved, to my new one at the Studio @ 620 was the right choice. I agonized over this decision and I literally lost sleep for two years trying to decide what to do and I could have saved myself a lot of that if I knew it was going to turn out find.
I continuously look for ways to make a positive difference, especially if I can bring something unique and needed to a problem. And I'd also like to sing more.