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Meet Kat Quast of Downtown Arts District in Orlando

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kat Quast.

Kat, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My mother was a brilliant artist, there was no media she could not master, including writing. I, on the other hand, took after my father. It may not be pretty, but I can fix almost anything, this I later discovered is also an art.

I have worked in the not for profit art world for over 20 years. I was general manager of the Enzian Theater and Florida Film Festival for 10 of those years. It was on this job that I discovered my greatest skill was building and repairing relationships. My former boss once told me she could throw me into a pit full of vipers and everyone would come out not only alive but smiling.

I’m also not sure I know how to stop. I keep going when everyone else wants to quit. I want the job finished and I will continue until I get it done, or drop. If I physically can’t… I find someone to help me do it.

There are two achievements that I did that aren’t in the big scope major, but they make me smile when I think of them.

The second is from 2010 when I randomly received Best Community Organizer when I was Director of Audubon Park Garden District. It was a total surprise. I had people coming up to me and saying congratulations. I thought it was because several of our local businesses got nods so I was shocked when I actually read the magazine .🙂

The first was of in my ten years as General Manager at the Florida Film Festival there was only one screening out of 1000’s that I could not get on the screen. Some screenings were late, some broke partially through, but the show went on. Only one print did not arrive from Germany so I just had no choice but to cancel.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Hahaha, easy road, what is that? Where can I find it?

I have truly lived a charmed life, but no path is smooth. There are always roadblocks along the way. Sometimes they are literally physical barriers and sometimes emotional hurdles, or financial woes. Sometimes you have people that just want to knock you down and take what you have worked so hard to achieve.

I have learned over the years not to take even the personal attacks personal. There is always a way around every problem. There is always an answer. If you don’t find it the first time, use what you learned and come at it from another direction. Failure is just you letting yourself stay down.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I have always loved all kinds of art. It opens my eyes to views I would otherwise never get to see. Coming to work for The Downtown Arts District was a dream come true. This Organization has been around for close to 15 years. They have provided gallery space for local artists who otherwise couldn’t have found a place to exhibit their art. They have mentored local artists and helped them grow into amazing highly paid professionals. As a relatively small organization, they have done extraordinary things to advance local art in and around Orlando. My goal within The Downtown Arts District is to make the artists exhibitions exactly how they envisioned. I work closely with each artist and or curator and we devise a plan for their space. After that I try to educate CityArts visitors about the artist and their process and hopefully help them become a new collector.

In CityArts Orlando we have seven galleries with multiple artists in some spaces. We change exhibits on the Third Thursday of each month so the art is constantly rotating. On top of running the gallery, Downtown Arts District has many other projects, such as, In The Artist Studio, art at Bloomingdales, art at the Aloft, Story Club, The In Between Series, and an ongoing art market during our Third Thursday Art Stroll, just to name a few.

Do you feel luck has played a role in your life?
I’m not sure. Sometimes I feel like I was in the right place at the right time. But mostly I think it comes down to the people we know and the relationships we build with them.

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Getting in touch: VoyageMIA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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