Friday, March 16, 2012

Spotlight on T.J. Couch, Straz supporter of arts education

Meet T.J. Couch, a successful business professional.

A native of Tampa, Couch worked at the Museum of Science and Industry for 19 years, most recently as the Director of Business Enterprises.

Now the vice-president of the University Commercial Center, a commercial property management company, Couch uses his success to give back to his community. He volunteers for numerous charitable organizations and foundations, including the Straz Center.
“My perspective is a little unique. I know a lot about the mechanics of how the Patel Conservatory works, but I don’t have children taking classes there, so I don’t get to see it in operation,” said Couch, a member of the Straz Center's Board of Trustees, and the co-chair of the Patel Conservatory Education Committee.
When Couch attended the Patel Conservatory's Spotlight Awards last spring, he was treated to an overall perspective of the fruits of his labor.
“I spend a lot of time in meetings discussing what goes on at the Conservatory, but it was fun to actually see the magic,” said Couch.
The 2012 Spotlight Awards are on the horizon. Now in its second year, this annual event is more than just an awards show.
“The awards are a celebration of the Conservatory’s successes over the course of the year, but there’s another important component. It's also a fundraiser,” said Couch. “Attendance is encouraged, but other forms of support are encouraged as well.”
Couch practices what he preaches. A longtime supporter of the Straz Center and the Patel Conservatory, he gives of his time, talent and treasure because he believes in arts education.
“I enjoy that spark that happens when people learn something new, or get really good at some new talent. I think arts education is one of the greatest ways to transform a community,” said Couch, who also played in one of our Rock School bands last year.
The Spotlight Awards is the only production at the Patel Conservatory that brings together performances from all three of our departments: dance, music and theater.
Parents, educators, community partners and supporters get an overview of everything that goes on at the Conservatory. If you’ve never seen Rock School, or a ballet performance or a musical theater production, it’s your chance see it all at one event.
It’s also your chance to support the Conservatory. By sponsoring the event, or placing a parent dedication, you’re helping the Conservatory bring the best of arts education not only to our classrooms, but to thousands of children in the community through our outreach programs.
“The Conservatory is more than just a three-story building. It reaches out to the community, and brings the performing arts to a lot of children on a level that they’d never be able to experience any other way,” said Couch.
“I’m happy and willing to volunteer my time and assets to further arts education.”

For more information about donations and sponsorships, contact Sharon McDonald at 813-222-1037 or

T.J. Couch on keyboards with his Rock School band at the
Spring 2011 Rock School Blowout

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