COUNCIL MEMBER PROFILE
Tracy Roloff Builds Connections
to Enhance Quality of Life through Art
By Leon M. Rubin
When Tracy Roloff was a child, her parents impressed on her the importance of finding an extracurricular activity. "I gravitated toward ballet. Ballet was my love," she says. "I was in a company in Miami. dancing five to seven days a week."
Although she ultimately decided against pursuing a professional career in dance, Roloff has never stood still. She's constantly on the move in the local cultural community as a fundraising consultant and volunteer. She's busy raising her daughter, Amelia - "my biggest pride and joy" - with her husband, Ari. And, since 2011, she's been an active member of the Broward Cultural Council after being appointed by Commissioner Chip LaMarca. She currently serves as first vice chair.
"Serving on the Council has really broadened my involvement and my appreciation of the cultural scene in Broward County," Roloff says. "Our work is to help enhance the quality of life of the residents in our community. That's what art and culture are all about. It's an honor to be involved in the Cultural Council to see how well that works."
Roloff brought a strong understanding of the inner workings of the cultural community to the table given her professional career with a number of local nonprofit organizations. After graduating from Florida State University with a theater degree focused on stage management, she decided she'd rather settle in one place rather than travel around the country with theatrical productions.
Returning to Fort Lauderdale, she began volunteering with the Florida Grand Opera and was soon hired as a fundraiser. "It was a perfect marriage," she says. "I got to stay in the arts and work on the business side of things."
She worked hard to expand the community's awareness and support for opera while also striving to engage a younger generation of opera aficionados. She later moved on to the Museum of Discovery and Science, where as director of development she played a key role in the capital campaign to build the EcoDiscovery Center. She has been a staff member, consultant or volunteer for Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre, the Symphony of the Americas and numerous other organizations - work that she finds extremely gratifying.
"When you see a completed project, it's satisfying to know that you've had a hand in that through the connections you're making to bring people together," she explains. "There are a lot of people out there who want to do a lot of good. So much of what I do is about the relationships. I connect the individuals to the opportunities and then make it happen."
Making things happen is clearly one of her goals as a Cultural Council member. She serves on grant review panels - a role that, she says, "gives me an opportunity to learn about what artists and cultural organizations are doing on a daily basis to bring art to our community."
She's committed to strengthening the Council's advocacy efforts. With 31 cities in Broward County, "we need to be on the same page and make sure we're all speaking the same language. Our voice needs to be heard more in Tallahassee," she says.
One of her biggest eye-openers has been the work of the Council's Public Art and Design Committee. "That's the thing I've learned the most about because my background is in the performing arts," she points out. The committee's efforts have brought about a positive shift in both the public's and the County Commissioners' understanding of the importance of public art, she observes. "Go to any great city and they have incredible public art pieces. It adds so much to any community."
In particular, she commends the Public Art and Design Committee's work with Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport and Port Everglades. "We're working with incredible artists to bring significant public art that the whole world will see when they travel through Broward County," she says with pride.
Roloff returns over and over to the roles that art and culture play in enhancing quality of life. "The importance of art and culture can be seen all around us," she says. "It strengthens the community's social, creative, and economic growth. It teaches history. Inspires movements...nothing else lifts the human spirit quite like the arts. You can't underestimate how much art nurtures the soul of the community."