Catalyst Interview Series: Kyle Phelps

Knight Creative Communities Institute (KCCI): What drove you to apply to be a KCCI Catalyst?

Kyle Phelps (KP): I heard about the opportunity through the bank, and I had seen some of the products that have come out of previous KCCI projects like Gaines Street and Discovery at Cascades Park. It seemed like a good group of people. I was really excited to hear the ideas that people had for the city.


KCCI: What is Tallahassee Music Week, and what was the mission behind this initiative?

KP: Tallahassee Music Week is a week long celebration of local music here in Tallahassee. One thing that our group talked about that helped form this idea is that we have a lot of talent in this city, but we didn’t really have a way to showcase that talent. Tallahassee Music Week pairs local musicians with traditional, non-traditional and unique venues around the city, and gives musicians the opportunity to perform and gain exposure. The whole idea behind the initiative is that there is a whole week where you just can’t avoid it – whether you’re working, shopping or going about your normal day, you run into music. It really makes the city come alive.


KCCI: How does music play a role in creating sense of place?

KP: As someone who is not very musical myself, this week opened my eyes to the unique spots and venues around town coming alive with music. The week takes place during the spring, a beautiful time of year in Tallahassee, and it creates a really nice environment to showcase local talent.


KCCI:  What can we expect from this year’s Tallahassee Music Week?

KP: People saw us and heard about what we were doing last year, but no one really knew what to expect. After last year’s success, everyone wanted to be a part of the events this year. There is going to be more promotion – WTXL is a sponsor and they will be running ads as well as showcasing some musicians on their morning show leading up to the week. We are also partnering with Springtime Tallahassee and enhancing our relationships with Word of South and the Tallahassee Democrat. Last year we had more than 100 performances at 50 different locations, and I anticipate that we will have even more performers this year. This year you will see the momentum continue to build. Word has already started spreading and it is exciting to be able to support these local musicians.


KCCI: How can members of the community get involved?

KP: Come out and experience the town during this week by attending the performances and supporting the local musicians. However, if you are interested in getting involved further you can get information about volunteering during the week on our website:



KCCI: What was the most valuable thing you learned from your experience as a KCCI Catalyst?

KP: The most valuable thing I learned was how to take the creative process from beginning to end. During this process you experience highs and lows. You have  the excitement of the idea and figuring out how you are going to make it actually happen and then there are always the disagreements and disappointments when things don’t work the way you expect. Sometimes you don’t know if you’re going to get to the finish line, and that is probably the hardest but most important part. Pushing through that grind allows you to come together as a group and makes the end that much more rewarding when you see all the work come to fruition.  The end product always turns out a little different than you expect but for us it turned out better than I could have imagined. You come out of the year with these strong friendships and bonds with people that you wouldn’t have otherwise met in other circumstances.


KCCI: What are some of your favorite places in Tallahassee?

KP: I grew up out west with wide open spaces so certain things in Tallahassee are certainly unique to Tallahassee. For example, our canopy roads – they can be absolutely breathtaking at times with all the old oaks, it’s very unique to this area. Also even though I’m not a Seminole, I think that FSU’s campus is beautiful, and I always enjoy when I get to spend time there.


KCCI: Who should apply to be a KCCI Catalyst?

KP: I don’t think you have to have a specific background to apply – the more diverse the group the better. People of different backgrounds, experiences, skills, ages – anybody can be a Catalyst. Everyone can add value in one way or another to the creative process. You do need to be willing to devote the time, but it is possible with a full time job. For students, if you’re looking for leadership experience and skills this will test you in the best way possible.